If we’re being honest, following the PDC World Darts Championship with the BDO version is akin to attending the World Cup final on a Saturday before catching your local pub team play on the Sunday morning.
That’s not to suggest the BDO is lacking in star quality – far from it in fact, but their amateur status means that the players simply can’t dedicate as much time to practise as their PDC counterparts; hence the gap in class.
One man who could easily make the step up in grade is Glen Durrant, who has shown at the cross-code Grand Slam of Darts that he more than has the game to compete with the very best.
Duzza will be looking to add a third title to his collection when the BDO World Championship gets underway on Saturday January 5. It won’t be a walk in the park, by any means, but he will take some stopping.
But is there any other betting value to be enjoyed? Let’s take a look as the build-up to the Lakeside extravaganza intensifies.
It’s fairly obvious and doesn’t raise any eyebrows, but Durrant is a red-hot favourite to win that hat-trick of world titles he craves to draw him level with the late, great Eric Bristow.
The man from Middlesbrough has had another stellar year, winning the Finder Darts Masters in December, reaching the final of the Winmau World Masters and once again playing well at the Grand Slam of Darts, despite failing to make it out of his group.
As if to assert his dominance, there were only two averages of 100+ at that Finder Darts Masters renewal, and Durrant was responsible for both. And if that wasn’t enough, he also supplied the next best figure, 99.34, as well.
Those stats are instructive because they show that Duzza plays at a consistently higher level than the rest of the British Darts Organisation. His return at the Grand Slam of Darts – bowing out at the group stage despite averaging 99.20, 97.02 and 104.98 in his three matches – confirms the fact.
A proven horse for the course, Durrant is the best player in the BDO by a country mile, and bookmakers’ quotes of 11/10 should not be seen as prohibitive; Michael van Gerwen went off at a similar price as he romped to a third PDC world title on New Year’s Day so there are plenty of darts betting opportunities for a similar profit in the BDO.
And as we will discover in the last section of this preview, there is a way to massage a bit more value from Durrant’s odds if we’re smart.
The bottom half of the draw is nightmarish for punters, with Durrant, Winmau Masters champion Adam Smith-Neale, the excellent Jim Williams, the rejuvenated Andy Hamilton and the metronomic Scott Mitchell all in the hunt.
And, therefore, the best of the betting value can be found in the top half, where there are some juicy outsiders who could fly.
The bookies are focused on Michael Unterbuchner and Mark McGeeney at just about double-figure prices.
The former is the skilful German who beat both Ian White and James Wade at the Grand Slam of Darts, while McGeeney is the number one ranked player in the BDO thanks to his willingness to play in all events (Durrant isn’t the most prolific as far as attendance is concerned) and a consistency found lacking in many of his counterparts.
But both are vulnerable, to some extent; particularly McGeeney, who will average somewhere between 88 and 95. But if you play very well against him the Gladiator can be toppled.
That should give plenty of encouragement to Richard Veenstra, a general 33/1 shot who reached the final of the Finder Darts Masters barely a month ago.
The Dutchman gave a good account of himself there, averaging more than 92 across eight sets against Durrant, and the Lakeside holds plenty of good memories for him: Veenstra has reached the semi-finals and the quarters in the last three years alone.
Form and pedigree are always a happy blend for punters, and with a fairly comfortable quarter of the draw – McGeeney aside – Veenstra appears to offer plenty of value.
Those of a slightly prehistoric disposition suggested that the addition of two women to the PDC World Championship draw was nothing but a publicity stunt.
Well, they were presumably choking on their words when Lisa Ashton took the first set – averaging 107 no less – against Jan Dekker in the first round.
She ended up losing the match in the end, but this wasn’t a gender battle: it was simply a contest between a professional and an amateur, in which the pro’s experience and class eventually shone through.
The point is that Ashton showed her mettle; indeed, her first round average was higher than that of eventual semi finalist Nathan Aspinall.
The Lancashire Rose is by far and away the best women’s darter on the planet, and there is simply no reason to suspect she won’t add a fifth BDO title to her collection at around the even money mark.
You could even double her up with Durrant for a potentially very handsome payday.