Well if Michael van Gerwen continually plays to that sort of level then we’ll see him lift the trophy on New Year’s Day, as he whitewashed James Wilson 4-0, winning every leg!
Vincent van der Voort was impressive in the afternoon and his win helped with a 5/4 bet on him with Most 180s and the same bet went in at 10/11 with dancing Dimitri van den Bergh knocking out Jan Dekker.
Mensur Suljovic wrapped up a 4-2 win over Robert Thornton with a 121 checkout on the bull but our Over 5.5 Sets (5/6) had already won by that stage.
The story of the night nearly went to Paul Lim, who rolled back the years, when missing D12 for a nine-darter – something he achieved back in 1990 on the world stage. However, it wasn’t enough for ‘The Singapore Slinger’, who lost 4-1 to Gary Anderson but he did hit six maximums to land the EVS bet on Over 3.5 180s from him.
Today is the final day before they break up for Christmas and play will return on the 27th!
Keegan Brown vs Zoran Lerchbacher
Keegan Brown had shown plenty of ability growing up and that was highlighted back in 2014 when he became the Youth World Champion.
However, he’s never kicked on from that success but in the last six months has come to the boil nicely and that showed with his First Round win.
James Wade was the unfortunate seed that succumbed to Brown’s performance that saw the 25-year-old average 95.45, hit four 180s and finish with a 41.38% on the doubles.
He hit two 100+ checkouts in the match, including a 124 in the very first leg to get up and running – the other was a 102.
This is Zoran Lerchbacher’s third World Championship appearance and in the previous two, he’d never got past the First Round.
That same fate looked on the cards at 2-0 down against Mervyn King, but despite leading the Englishman seemed to have a struggle, which allowed the Austrian back into the game and he took his opportunity when it presented itself.
‘The Hypercane’ is 74th in the PDC Order of Merit and he beat Keegan Brown in July, in which is their one previous meeting, so has form against his younger opponent.
Against King, the Austrian averaged 92.09, hit two 180s and had a 50% checkout success rate. His finishing was fairly sound given how long he was on stage for and he seemed more comfortable as he began to relax.
He’s a tricky opponent and did reach a ProTour Final earlier in the year – it was that event where he beat Brown in the Quarter-Final.
Brown has the slight advantage of having reached the Second Round, so he might be able to cope better with the extra set if required.
In that Second Round game back in 2015, he hit six maximums and when he’s flowing he can score heavily, so I’m backing Brown to Win & Most 180s (11/10) because Lerchbacher isn’t a big 180 hitter and I think the Austrian will be under too much pressure to cope with Brown’s big scores.
Michael Smith vs Rob Cross
Across today’s two sessions and I’d this is game of the day yet it’s on during the football, which baffles me!
Two highly-rated 27-year-old’s do battle in what could be a thriller if both turn up and play to their potential.
Michael Smith has had his name banded around for a few years as a future world champion but hasn’t shown any of the form that saw him crowned Youth World Champion in 2013.
However, ‘Bully Boy’ was on it in his First Round win over Steve Lennon. He led 2-0 before the Irishman pulled it back to 2-2 and I liked how Smith knuckled down to win the deciding set because a couple of years he’d have broken mentally and emotionally allowing Lennon to pull off the comeback.
That was a pleasing aspect from my point of view. In that contest, he averaged 92.63, hit 10 maximums (most of the First Round), took out a 150 finish and had a 32.35% checkout rate.
Those figures sum up the highs and lows of his game. A heavy scorer, who can take out a big number, in a moment of brilliance, but at other times can be scratchy on his doubles.
Rob Cross has been a PDC success story after coming through the Challenge Tour, where he mopped up last year.
This time 12 months ago, Cross was an electrician. Now he’s 20th in the PDC Order of Merit and is looking to make the Last 16 of a World Championship on debut.
Saying his First Round match was his debut on the Alexandra Stage he handled the occasion well. He beat Preliminary Round winner Seigo Asada 3-0 with a 104.12 average, hit six 180s, took out a 121 checkout and his finishing success rate sat at 50%.
His 104 average was the third best from that opening round of matches and overall it was an excellent performance but he’s going to find himself under more pressure in this game against such a power scorer.
That said, on his day Cross can be as equally as adept at hitting the big scores and he’s one of the best cover shooters in the game when going for T19.
‘Voltage’, who has won four times on the tour this year, has beaten Smith in four of their five matches this year and in the last couple of those matches in European Tour events, we’ve seen Cross land the Match Treble in his favour.
The 180s will be a close battle and given the unerring accuracy that they both found that T20 bed with during their respective First Round matches means Over 14.5 180s (5/6 – Betfair) looks a really good bet given I do like this other bet - Rob Cross to Win & Both Players to Win Two or More Sets (7/5 – William Hill).
Cross is the stronger finisher there’s no doubt about it because of this composure at the oche whereas Smith can have a rush of blood or adrenaline when in the moment. That on top of his consistently high averages makes me lean Cross’ way in the winning department but I am expecting at least six sets here with the way they’ll match each others scoring.
If one of them is off it or makes a mistake then they’ll be punished and it is a game where there is no margin for error given the quality they both possess.
Steve West vs Jermaine Wattimena
A match between two First Round underdogs, who KO'd two seeded players, take to the stage in the final match of the afternoon session.
Steve West is a steady and reliable player but it’s surprising to see this is his seventh World Championship between both codes (BDO & PDC) and this is his first time in the Second Round.
He defeated Benito van de Pas with a 95.47 average, four 180s, a 141 checkout and 39.29% checkout success rate.
That 141 was the winning combination shot and it was his third 100+ checkout in the match along with 100, in the opening leg, and a 106.
Jermaine Wattimena was embroiled in a proper battle against Joe Cullen, which was an excellent watch, and the Dutchman came out on top.
The Dutchman averaged 96.83, hit two 180s, took out the same high 141 checkout as West and ended up with a 43.48% rate on the doubles.
That 141 out went alongside a 111, which won him the opening leg of the third set and it’s the finishing on the combination shots of these two players that make me look at the checkout markets.
I’m playing Three or More 100+ Checkouts in the Match (10/11 – Sky Bet). This is under the Request-A-Bet section and I see a similar bet with Betfair at 1/3, so see how the traders at those companies differ in price.
Like I’ve put above, between them they hit five 100+ checkouts and with this being a match where we could go the distance then that opens it up for more of those ton plus outs.
West is a player who goes a bit under the radar and maybe slightly written off at 42-years of age but he’s got quality in him, which he proved when dumping James Wade out in the First Round of the World Grand Prix.
However, I do feel he may meet his match in Wattimena this afternoon because the Dutchman is the slightly more clinical on the doubles and that’s the most important aspect of the game.
One bet I’d be tempted to chance is Wattimena to Win & Both Players Throw Three or More 180s (17/10 – Betfair). He’s the better finisher of the pair and with me expecting a 4-2 or 4-3 victory that should enable it for 180s. West did hit four in his First Round game while Wattimena only managed two but did rattle in 14 140+ scores, so does hit the T20 well enough to have faith in that.
Daryl Gurney vs John Henderson
Daryl Gurney won his first major in the World Grand Prix and in the Semi-Final he beat John Henderson making it three wins out of four for ‘Superchin’ against the Scot.
He’s gone from strength to strength and is undoubtedly one to challenge Michael van Gerwen over the coming years…. No matter what Phil Taylor says!
Despite having a slight dip during his First Round game he still beat Ronny Huybrechts 3-1 with a 100.51 average. In that, he hit seven maximums, took out the ‘big fish’ of the 170 checkout and had a 45.45% checkout success rate.
Plenty to like about those stats and I can’t see a way for Henderson to record a win with the form Gurney’s been reaching.
‘The Highlander’ beat Marko Kantele 3-0 in his opening game averaged ten points lower than Gurney with 90.09, hit two 180s, he took out 160 to win the first set and was successful with 45% of his doubles.
His finishing could dig him out of trouble at times but he’ll need to ramp up the scoring to trouble Gurney.
Gurney to Win 4-0 or 4-1 (8/11 – Betfred) has to be on the radar here. Henderson only wins two sets with some inspired throwing or a Gurney capitulation where he’s averaged in the high 80s, something I just can’t see.
With the Northern Irishman winning most legs in this game then look at Double 16 in certain markets. It’s 5/1 with Sky Bet for it to be the First Leg Winning Double and with Gurney pinning it to win the opening leg of the match against Huybrechts then that does look a juicy price for a man who favours that area of the board for doubling.
Phil Taylor vs Justin Pipe
A short and sweet piece on this one because I’ve no desire on having a punt in this game – it just lacks any sort of appeal
Justin Pipe overcame a scare against Preliminary Round winner Bernie Smith when coming through 3-2 but it’s since been tainted by ‘Coughgate’ where Pipe steps closer to Smith, at the oche, coughs and steps away after the Kiwi had thrown.
It didn’t look good in any which way and it showed how desperate the Taunton-man was not to lose in the First Round, especially after being 2-0 up and looking to be over the line.
Pipe averaged just 89.24, which was the third lowest of players to win. In contrast, Taylor averaged a steady 96.33 and that should be good enough to see him through.
Mainly because Pipe didn’t look comfortable with the angles his darts were entering the board. They do tend to lie down but they were creating him the odd issue on Wednesday night and if having those issues here then he’ll be made light work of.
‘The Power’ hit three 180s and 13 scores of 140+ in his opening win over Chris Dobey and that scoring is something that will put Pipe under pressure.
This won’t be an entertaining match to watch and the maximums won’t flow like they have in certain other games.
The Taylor Match Treble is an obvious angle to approach this one given he managed one more maximum and the only 100+ checkout of the pair in their respective First Round matches. Given how closely matched they are in the 180s department the Most 180s – Draw (13/2) could be worth just a small wager because there won’t be many it in, whichever way it goes.
Raymond van Barneveld vs Kyle Anderson
It was a notable First Round performance from Raymond van Barneveld on Tuesday when beating Richard North 3-0.
The former Postman finished with a 102 average, which was the fourth best of the round, while he hit three 180s and finished with a 47.37% checkout success rate.
We know the five-time world champion has the game but it’s about him believing in his own ability and that confidence came through in his interview after the match.
These two have met ten times with them sharing the wins at five-all. However, it’s ‘Barney’ who has won the last three, including a 2-0 win in the First Round of the World Grand Prix.
Kyle Anderson defeated Peter Jacques in his opening game but will want to improve on that performance because his scoring wasn’t at the usual high, consistent level it is.
‘The Original’ won a tour event back in August and has had a decent year on the circuit, including hitting a couple of nine-dart finishes.
One of those came in the European Championship where he made it to the Semi-Final stage beating John Henderson, Jelle Klaasen and Mensur Suljovic along the way before losing to Michael van Gerwen 11-10, despite averaging a shade more, hitting more 180s and having the highest match checkout.
The Aussie is a capable player and in that First Round he averaged just 93, with four 180s, a 109 high checkout and took out the doubles 55%.
He’s a fairly good doubler and usually, his scoring is better than what he produced in that match against Jacques. It’ll be a tricky game for him because he’s never got further than this stage of the tournament having lost 4-2 in his last two appearances to Andy Hamilton and Vincent van der Voort.
These two can score heavily. In their First Round games, they hit seven 180s between them (4-3 Anderson) while the 140+ scores tallied up to 30 with ‘Barney’ hitting 17 to Anderson’s 13.
There will be plenty of trebles hit through this game and the 180 market will be close but I’m having that in part of the bet – Raymond van Barneveld to Win & Kyle Anderson Most 180s (2/1 – Sky Bet).
Anderson will need to up his game if wanting to match van Barneveld, who could easily average over 100 once again. The Dutchman has made the Semi-Finals in four of the last five years and on his way to that stage last year he averaged 103.59 in beating Alan Norris 4-0 in the Second Round.
The 180s will be close throughout but we’ve seen Anderson rattle plenty in this year, hitting a couple of nine-darters plus in the European Championship he ended with the most maximums in the tournament – 26 in four matches.
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