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World Championship Darts: Day 6

Mark Webster’s terrified, Paul Lim’s on fire! What a Monday night, as 63-year-old Paul Lim won his Preliminary Round game and then knocked out Mark Webster. The veteran faces Gary Anderson in the second round!

The night went much smoother for Mensur Suljovic, who ran out an easy 3-0 winner against Kevin Painter, who won just two legs, while Daryl Gurney is also through defeating Ronny Huybrechts 3-1 after a mini-wobble.

Tuesday night sees a two-time and a five-time world champion toe the oche!

John Henderson vs Marko Kantele

Marko Kantele arrives at his first World Championship since 2009, where he was a first-round casualty – losing 3-1 to Ronnie Baxter.

The Fin is a big player around the Nordic scene and has spent most this year competing in European Tour qualifiers in the Nordic and Baltic region, with a fair degree of success.

From the 12 events, he won two and ended up in the final on four other occasions. Despite the small nature of the field sizes, there are some big names with the likes of Kim Vijanen, already seen here this week, Per Laursen, Magnus Caris and Ulf Cedar.

He played in the European Matchplay, which saw him beat Antonio Alcinas 6-5 in the opening round before losing to Alan Norris in the Last 32.

Against Norris, he was below his best with an 80 average and just three out of 17 darts at double were successful (18%). He’ll have to up that here to stand a chance of beating the rocking Scot.

John Henderson has had a mixed year but it’ll be remembered for his run in the World Grand Prix, which saw him make the Semi-Final.

To have beaten MvG in the First Round shows that he has the game to match but with his action/motion at the oche then one moment of lack synchronisation can throw it all out of timing.

He won that game against MvG with a 76 average but was better than the world number one on the doubles and that’s the telling stat in that tournament, which is double-in and double-out.

The Scot then beat Alan Norris and Raymond van Barneveld before losing to eventual winner Daryl Gurney. That run helped to propel him up the rankings, which sees him with a nice first round tie.

In the last three years, he’s lost his first-round matches to the likes of Vincent van der Voort (3-2), Darren Webster (3-1) and last year Andrew Gilding (3-2).

Last year, he played an inspired Gilding but Henderson didn’t play too badly ending the game with an 88 average with three 180s, a high out of 121 and 50% on the doubles.

It’s his finishing that gets him over the line and sometimes out of trouble because he can find the one’s and five’s too often but when on the outer ring he is fairly solid.

During the Players Championship Finals, Henderson finished to a very high standard. He lost in the second round 6-5 to Ian White with a 98.64 average, three 180s and a 161 out. His checkout success rate stood at 62.5% but in the end, it wasn’t good enough.

If the ‘Highlander’ can get his rocking rhythm going early then he’ll prove too good for his Finnish opponent. I’ve gone on about Henderson’s finishing and Henderson Highest Checkout Over 106.5 (10/11 – Betfair) is definitely one angle to approach this match.

While the Match Treble – Henderson to Win, Hit Most 180s and Highest Checkout (9/4 – Sky Bet) has been boosted from 7/4 to 9/4, so is worth backing because if firing straight he’ll hit more maximums and should have too much for Kantele.


Raymond van Barneveld vs Richard North

We all know what Raymond van Barneveld is capable of; he just needs to have more belief in his own ability at times.

He’s made the Semi-Final stage here in four of the last five years but this time around it’s a big ask being in the top half of the draw with a certain MvG.

‘Barney’ hasn’t played too badly of late; he’s just bumped into inspired opponents. His defeat in the Last 16 of the Grand Slam came against the man everyone in darts is raving about – Rob Cross, while in the Players Championship Finals he averaged 96.88 but lost in a deciding leg in the first round to Ian White.

He became a grandfather once again a couple of months ago, so if he’s been spending more time with family than being on the board, which is perfectly understandable, then we may see some rustiness in this first round clash.

The Dutchman has already beaten Richard North once this year but the Englishman will have nothing to fear on his World Championship debut.

North won a two-year tour card back in January and could prove a dangerous opponent having reached a few Quarter-Finals on the tour this year.

On the couple of occasions I’ve been able to watch him play, I’ve been impressed by him. He won in the first round of the Players Championship 6-1 against Pete Hudson averaging 99 and with a 130 highest checkout.

Even in the second round, he didn’t play too badly despite losing to Adrian Lewis, he just missed too many darts at doubles at crucial stages in the match.

He has handled the TV stage in that tournament, plus when he made his World Grand Prix debut earlier in the year. Again he won his first round match, in this format, 2-0 against Mark Webster, so has proven himself against some of the more established names on the tour.

The question is how will he handle playing on the Alexandra Palace stage for the first time because we’ve seen in the past it can do funny things. It can inspire you but it can bring up the nerves and throw you off your game.

For me, I’d feel that North will deal with whatever is thrown at him here, whether is a RvB in full flow or just coping with the crowd and the situation that confronts him.

Looking through the betting and past stats, then there is a couple of bets I’d be looking to take.

Firstly, I feel the bookies have underestimated North somewhat and I do feel he’ll hit a few maximums here, so Over 2.5 North 180s (5/6 – William Hill) – this seems to be priced at 4/6 elsewhere!

In the last three years, ‘Barney’ has hit eight 180s in his first round matches, split 3, 2 & 3. He isn’t one to hit full flight early on here and if North can settle in then start grouping those darts around the T20 then he could have a shout in the 180s department, so North Most 180s (11/4 – Betfair) is a big price because he’s already matched Adrian Lewis in this department before and his opponent hasn’t been too fluid in recent events.


Adrian Lewis will face the winner of Aleksandr Oreshkin and Kevin Munch. If he faces the Russian then his slower pace could knock Lewis out of stride but all the vibes from ‘Jackpot’ are positive and that’s his scoring is strong, so look at Adrian Lewis 180s in that one.

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