Dan Fitch is expecting Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price to come through their respective semi-finals, but thinks that Nathan Aspinall and Peter Wright have what it takes to make them competitive...
"Wright threw twelve 180s against Humphries."
Van Gerwen clear favourite
Monday is semi-final day at the PDC World Darts Championship and it should be a cracker.
All four semi-finalists looked in ominous form in their quarter-final victories on Sunday, setting up two matches which have clear favourites taking on live outsiders. Michael van Gerwen is expected to defend his crown and has narrowed to 1.564/7. His opponent Nathan Aspinall is the outsider at 20.019/1 to win his first World Championship.
In the other semi, Gerwyn Price is 5.04/1 to finish his great year in style, coming in from the 6.205/1 which was available when we tipped him to win the tournament. Peter Wright is 8.615/2 to lift his first world crown and other than Van Gerwin, is the only semi-finalist who has previously made it past this stage.
Wright plays a blinder, but has he peaked?
Peter Wright 2.3811/8 v Gerwyn Price 1.715/7
Live on Sky Sports Darts
Wright's form has been uneven at times over the month, but there was nothing inconsistent about him in the quarter-finals as he recorded the heaviest scoring of the day.
'Snakebite' averaged 105.86 and his finishing was very good too, pulling off a 170 checkout and enjoying a checkout percentage of 48.65 in a 5-3 win. With his opponent Luke Humphries producing the best performance of the losing quarter-finalists, Wright had no choice but to rise to the occasion if he wanted to proceed.
It can sometimes be tough for a player to reach such a level again after overcoming a spirited challenge. Backers of Price will hope that's the case and the Welshman certainly had an easier quarter-final against Glen Durrant, who he saw off with relative ease with a 5-1 win.
So Price will be the fresher man and after winning only one of his first 14 matches against Wright (D1 L12), he has become dominant in recent times, winning four of the last five encounters. This includes both Premier League matches this year and the final of the Grand Slam of Darts in November, in which Price crushed Wright 16-6.
This should be a match played at a very high standard and over 21.5 180s is 2.01/1. Wright threw twelve 180s against Humphries and another option is for him to have the most 180s and lose the game at 2.8815/8.
Aspinall can give Van Gerwen biggest test yet
Michael van Gerwen 1.171/6 v Nathan Aspinall 6.411/2
Live on Sky Sports Darts
Van Gerwen dropped sets for only the second occasion at this tournament in his 5-2 quarter-final win against Darius Labanauskas.
MVG lost the first set, but soon had the match under his control. He's yet to really look his best, which is no surprise as he's not faced the level of opponent likely to test him. Regardless, a 99.50 three-dart average, with a 158 highest checkout and a 45% checkout percentage in the quarter-final, are hardly shabby statistics.
Everything points to Aspinall giving Van Gerwen his biggest challenge so far, even if he is the underdog at 6.411/2. He's been consistent throughout and has seen off a higher level of opponent than Van Gerwen, having beaten Gary Anderson in the fourth round.
In the quarter-final, Aspinall disposed of Dimitri van den Bergh with a 5-3 win that could have been more conclusive, as 'The Asp' was 4-1 up at one stage. Aspinall should go into this match with more confidence than most that face MVG, for he has a good record against the world number one, beating him twice in four games (L2), which includes a 6-3 win in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy when they last met in September.
There's enough to suggest that Aspinall can at least make a match of it, even if Van Gerwen is the rightful favourite. He lost 6-3 to Michael Smith in the semi-finals of last year's World Championship and over 8.5 sets can be backed at 1.910/11.
Dan Fitch Darts P/L 2020
Staked: 43.00 pts
Returned: 46.41 pts
P/L: +3.41 pts
Back over 21.5 180s between Wright and Price at 2.01/1
Back over 8.5 sets between Van Gerwen and Aspinall at 1.910/11