The world darts tour heads to New Zealand this week for the third edition of the Auckland Masters Darts where some of the best players from Europe and New Zealand will be on show. Four of New Zealand’s top dart players will come up against the very best in the world in the opening round which starts on Thursday, but the later rounds in the tournament will feature the likes of Gary Anderson, Phil Taylor and Peter Wright.
One notable exemption is Michael van Gerwen, who opted to take some time off after his shock defeat to Phil Taylor at the World Matchplay. The world tour events can often through in an upset result, but we’re sticking with the favorites which are paying good value with bookmakers.
Auckland Masters winning prediction
Fresh off his World Matchplay triumph, Phil “The Power” Taylor is paying an incredible 3/1 with bet365 and that’s great value. He might be getting long in the tooth, but Taylor is throwing extremely well this year and if his form in the Matchplay was anything to go by, stopping him in Auckland is going to be a tough task. The 56-year-old defeated the likes of Robert van Barneveld (11-3), Michael van Gerwen (16-6), Adrian Lewis (17-9) and Peter Wright (18-8).
No other player came close to getting a chance at beating Taylor and although he’s calling time on his career at the end of this season, he’s got more wins in store between now and then. Taylor hasn’t had much success at the Auckland Masters in the past, losing twice to Adrian Lewis in the quarterfinals and semi-finals, but there is no Lewis in the field this week and Taylor is throwing much better than he was two years ago. Taylor is likely to get through to the semi-final where he could play Peter Wright and given his recent form against the Scot, we’d back Taylor in all day.
Auckland Masters value tip
Michael Smith (16/1 with Sky Bet) isn’t the most household name in darts, but he’s super talented and he could use the Auckland Masters to spark his career. Smith is more than capable of winning a tournament of this magnitude and he just needs to gather some momentum after losing in the first round of the World Matchplay. His form prior to that included a semi-final defeat at the hands of Mervyn King on the European Tour and he also made the final against Michael van Gerwen the week prior. There’s no doubting Smith’s ability to throw a dart and it’s only his mental game which is holding him back. If Smith can score an early upset over one of the more fancied seeds to start the week, he could easily steamroll the entire tournament.
Best New Zealand player to watch
The New Zealand players aren’t expected to progress through to the finals, seeing as they’re taking on the best in the world in the opening round, but they could offer bettors some early value. Cody Harris is currently a 200/1 chance to win the tournament and those odds are accurate, but he could give one of the higher seeds a run for their money in the opening round. Harris has performed well on the big stage in the past, most notably for New Zealand in the 2016 World Cup of Darts, so this stage won’t daunt him. We’re predicting that he will be a big outsider to win his opening game, so look for the legs handicap market and back Harris with confidence.