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It's been a barren year for Michael van Gerwen but the feeling remains in darts that an in-form Green Machine is still the most formidable force in the sport and the return to one of his favourite hunting grounds might just provide the spark that has been missing from his game in 2021.
The World Matchplay returns to its iconic home the Winter Gardens having been forced behind closed doors in Milton Keynes in 2020, and that could prove crucial from the Dutchman who feeds off the enthusiastic Blackpool crowd better than anyone.
Mighty Mike, a back-to-back winner at Winter Gardens in 2015 and 2016, is 5/1 with Grosvenor Sport to complete a famous treble and that looks a price worth taking.
There have been encouraging signs from van Gerwen coming into this event. Coming off a semi-final loss to the eventual Premier League champion Jonny Clayton at the end of May, in which he was only two hold of throws away from winning, MVG bounced back in the recent block of Super Series tournaments with an average of 99 across the four days.
Although he didn't get over the line in the final, he averaged 106 on the final day against Peter Wright which ought to give him a a good deal of confidence as he heads to Blackpool.
World Matchplay Darts Championship Betting at Grosvenor Sport
Punters looking for a bigger-priced play could do a lot worse than taking the 20/1 about James Wade, who also appeals at 11/4 to win what looks the weakest quarter of the draw.
Wade's record in Blackpool, which includes a win and five further final appearances, entitles 'Mr Consistent' to a great deal of respect. His combination finishing is as relentless as ever and there is no man in the world you would choose for a dart at double ten than Wade.
The Machine's likely semi-final opponent is world number one Gerwyn Price but that won't hold any fears for the 38-year-old who recently beat Price 6-3 at the Super Series. Although averaging only 90 in that game, it was clear that Wade was able to upset Price's rhythm by throwing sedately.
A seventh final appearance in Blackpool would come as no surprise and that would ensure each-way backers are onto a winner.
Michael van Gerwen 5/1
James Wade (each-way) 20/1
- Michael van Gerwen
- The Inside Track – Sport
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