The World Matchplay begins in Milton Keynes on Saturday and Dan Fitch is predicting some heavy scoring from Michael van Gerwen...
"MVG won two of the five Summer Series tournaments, beating Peter Wright on day one and then Jose de Sousa on day three."
2020 World Matchplay, First Round
Saturday 18 July
Live on Sky Sports Action
Joyce has broken tournament duck
Simon Whitlock 1.814/5 v Ryan Joyce 2.166/5
Start time, 18:15
Big time darts is back on Saturday night with five first round matches in the 2020 World Matchplay. Kicking things off is a closely priced encounter between Simon Whitlock and Ryan Joyce.
The world number 14, Whitlock is the favourite, but Joyce is in form, having won his first tournament on the second day of the PDC Summer Series. Joyce knocked out Glen Durrant and Gary Anderson, before fighting back from 7-3 down to beat Dave Chisnall 8-7 in the final. As the underdog, Joyce is worth backing to cause another upset at 2.166/5.
Ratajski can overcome handicap
Krzysztof Ratajski 1.422/5 v Jermaine Wattimena 3.211/5
Start time, 19:10
Ratajski is a deserved favourite, even at such a short price. The Pole has been one of the most consistent players on the tour over the last year, with a win percentage of 72.32%. Ratajski also has a great record against Wattimena, holding a 6-2 advantage in past encounters and winning each of the last six.
Four of those wins saw Ratajski win by a margin of at least three legs and in a best of 19 leg match, he should overcome a handicap of -2.5 at odds of 2.001/1.
'Machine' will gun down Brown
James Wade 1.364/11 v Keegan Brown 3.55/2
Start time, 20:05
James Wade also won of the Summer Series events, beating Rob Cross 8-2 in the final on day four. En-route to the final, Wade beat an impressive roster of players, knocking out Nathan Aspinall, Michael Smith and Ian White.
'The Machine' has won his last four matches against Brown, which includes a 6-4 win back in March. Let's take a chance on Wade enjoying a dominant victory, with the win, most 180s and highest checkout available at 3/1 on the Sportsbook.
MVG already winning tournaments after break
Michael van Gerwen 1.132/15 v Brendan Dolan 8.07/1
Start time, 21:00
Michael van Gerwen might have opted against competing in the PDC Home Tour, but he was obviously doing some practising over lockdown. MVG won two of the five Summer Series tournaments, beating Peter Wright on day one and then Jose de Sousa on day three.
Brendan Dolan did enjoy a win against Van Gerwen back in February, but overall trails 18-5 in head-to-head encounters. It's difficult to find value in an MVG victory at this starting price, so it might be best to bank on there being a large number of 180s over this long format. Over 6.5 can be backed at 1.910/11.
Anderson will smoke Pipe once more
Gary Anderson 1.241/4 v Justin Pipe 4.84/1
Start time, 21:55
After making the headlines due to his poor WiFi connection, Gary Anderson belatedly entered the PDC Home Tour and was the beaten finalist.
Anderson has won his last six matches against Pipe and can be backed to win the match and score the most 180s at 8/11.
Dan Fitch Darts P/L 2020
Staked: 61.00 pts
Returned: 57.95 pts
P/L: -3.05 pts
Back Joyce to beat Whitlock at 2.166/5
Back Ratajski -2.5 against Wattimena at 2.001/1
Back Wade to beat Brown, score the most 180s and highest checkout at 3/1
Back Van Gerwen and Dolan to score over 6.5 180s at 1.910/11
Back Anderson to beat Pipe and score the most 180s at 8/11