Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday Gary Anderson was checking out on 24 to win his second successive World Championship trophy. But, twelve months later, it’s back – darts’ biggest competition.
And to kick things off, Ladbrokes News have got their heads together to find you the best bets from Day One, where the Flying Scotsman will face off against the aptly named Mark Frost as he attempts to make it three World Championships in a row.
He’s not on first, though. That spot goes to Jamie Caven and Kevin Painter, and we’re going against our traders in that one…
Jamie Caven v Kevin Painter
The odds may favour The Artist in this one, but our money is going on Jabba. Neither player has had the best of years, with just one Players Championship final to speak of between them in 2016.
But Caven is some 16 places ahead of Painter in the PDC Order of Merit, and it’s the 6/5 outsider who’s winning in the head-to-heads, too.
Of their previous 11 meetings, Jabba is winning 7-4, with one of Painter’s wins coming in a non-ranking event.
It could go down to the wire, but we reckon Caven will edge it.
Top Bet – Jamie Caven to beat Kevin Painter @ 6/5
Jamie Lewis v Mick McGowan
He may not be the best Lewis in the tournament, but Rasta certainly has enough about him to progress for the second-round for the first time as he faces a man some 41 places behind him in the rankings in Mick McGowan.
McGowan appeared in his first World Championship event for eight years in 2016, falling at the first hurdle in a 3-0 defeat to Mark Webster. And we wouldn’t be surprised if another Welshman inflicts a similar defeat on him on Thursday night.
Lewis has held his own against some top players this year, defeating the likes of Benito van de Pas and Robert Thornton, while narrowly losing out to Simon Whitlock, Stephen Bunting and Dave Chisnall in different events throughout the year.
The 25-year-old heads into this one as the 8/13 favourite, and while we can see McGowan nicking a leg, our money is on Lewis to win this one.
Top Bet – Jamie Lewis to win 3-1 @ 3/1
Gary Anderson v Mark Frost
At 1/20, there’s simply no point in backing the two-time world champ to win this one. So where does the value lie?
It’s in a whitewash, unfortunately for Frost.
The odds are still short, but the Flying Scotsman has lost just two sets in his last four first-round matches.
We were tempted by the 7/4 on offer for a 180 to be hit in the first leg, given that Anderson did exactly that last year in his opening match. But we’re playing it safe and backing him to win three sets on the bounce against the world number 76.
Top Bet – Gary Anderson to win 3-0 @ 8/15
Michael Smith v Ricky Evans
This one is a real case of blink, and you’ll miss it. Smith and Evans are two of the fastest throwers on the planet, but it’s the former who’ll be fancying his chances here.
The odds reflect that, too, with Bully Boy priced up at 2/5 and Rapid at 2/1.
With the potential of five sets to play, combined with both players feeling like they have a point to prove – we’re expecting that treble 20 bed to be pummelled.
Top Bet – Over 8.5 Match 180s @ 4/5
Fancy this as an acca? We’re paying 22/1 four all four Top Bets combined.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing