The Japanese leg of the Masters, a returning fixture on the series, will this time play out at the Yoyogi Olympic Hall in Tokyo, which replaces last year’s host city of Yokohama. The event concludes on Thursday, with round one matches having been contested over the best of 11 legs; quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final will all be best of 15.
As well as looking to find some form before the World Matchplay later this month, the players will once again battle it out for World Series ranking points which count towards November’s finals in Glasgow. At the same time, event sponsors Zipang Casino have put forward a £50K bonus for a nine-dart finish and have also pledged £1,000,000 for two 9-darters in the same match by the same player.
The Usual Suspects Win Round One
As with previous events in the series, competitors have been drafted in from the top ranked eight players, plus eight local qualifiers. Last year saw Phil “The Power” Taylor beat Peter Wright in the final to take home the trophy and this year’s draw saw Taylor paired with PDC Tour Card holder Haruki Muramatsu to begin the defence of his title.
Despite being Japan’s most experienced player, Muramatsu didn’t provide his rival with any real competition and the Englishman, with an average of 97.35, duly won out 6-2. The first round also saw Dave Chisnall face off against Shintaro Inoue and, averaging 96.64, he emerged as the 6-1 winner.
Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld overcame Keita Ono by the same score, while an impressive Peter Wright took on Chikara Fujimori and hit 100% of his double attempts on the road to a whitewash victory. Adrian Lewis and James Wade both won 6-1 against event debutants Tsuneki Zaha and Masahiro Hiraga respectively.
Following on from victory at the Shanghai Masters, Michael van Gerwen met Masumi Chino and the Dutchman made surprisingly hard work of things; he was broken twice but still managed to win by six sets to three. Scotsman Gary Anderson, winner in both Dubai and Auckland, took on Seigo Asada, who took part in both the Lakeside Championship and BDO World Trophy earlier this year, and also beat his Japanese competitor 6-1.
Looking Ahead To The Quarter-Finals
This all leaves the next round of matches looking very tight indeed. Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld go heads up in the Thursday opener before Adrian Lewis and Peter Wright step up to the oche. Next up is event favourite Michael van Gerwen, who must see off Dave Chisnall, after which James Wade will take on Phil Taylor.
Anderson went into the event leading the World Series Rankings four points ahead of Van Gerwen before suffering defeat to James Wade in the Shanghai quarter-final. From a darts betting perspective, we are always looking for the best value and with eight players remaining it becomes easier to look at the draw.
Finding The Best Value For The Tokyo Darts Masters
For an outright win, there is even money to be made on the bookmakers’ clear favourite Michael Van Gerwen but after that, prices (even on the big names) begin to drift. To that end, why not take a look at Skybet’s offer of 5/1 on Taylor, who took the crown in Japan last time around. James Wade stands in Taylor’s way at the quarter-final stage and can be backed for 5/2 for that match at Bet365 against the much shorter-priced Taylor at 3/10.
That said, Van Gerwen’s compatriot Raymond Van Barneveld is an outright winner best price of 20/1, also at Skybet. This looks a peach of price given the form he is capable of, especially when each way pays 1/3 of the odds for a top two finish.
The very same bookmakers are also offering the same price on both Dave Chisnall and James Wade, which is well worth some thought. Peter Wright, who is hoping to end a run of three consecutive quarter-final defeats, is a best price of evens at bet365 to buck the trend at the fourth attempt and overcome Adrian Lewis.
In the UK, coverage of the event will be shown on ITV4 at 8pm BST on Thursday July 7.
As we stand, the current World Series of Darts Rankings are as follows:
- Gary Anderson (27pts)
- Michael van Gerwen (23pts)
- James Wade (16pts)
- Adrian Lewis (14pts)
- Phil Taylor (13pts)
- Dave Chisnall (13pts)
- Raymond van Barneveld (11pts)
- Peter Wright (9pts)