There were a few winners across the double session yesterday, which saw some fantastic darts thrown, especially in an evening where Gary Anderson stole the show.
Joe Cullen delivered on the 180 front for an EVS bet. Benito van de Pas hit 122 & 124 checkouts to land the 5/6 bet on his checkout bar while Klaasen -1 180s also came in at 4/5.
Alan Norris vs Kim Viljanen
Alan Norris has had a disappointing end to the year after it started so well. He won a floor event in February before going on to reach the Semi-Final of the UK Open.
But in the last couple of months he struggled for any sort of consistency in his game and that showed in the European Championship Second Round when whitewashed 10-0 by Simon Whitlock having missed 13 darts at a double.
When he’s on it, he’s good but when things aren’t going his way he can be truly dreadful.
Kim Viljanen usually has to go through the Preliminary Round, so this is something new for the Fin with a place straight into opening round.
However, he’s never won a set in the first round having lost 3-0 on both occasions to Kevin Painter and last year he had the most difficult of the lot in Michael van Gerwen.
Viljanen has had a quiet year but if you go back to June he beat Peter Wright 6-5 in the Austrian Open – I’m still scratching my head as to how given he averaged just 85 but his finishing was excellent with six doubles hit from eight attempts (75%).
It’s a tricky game to call given Norris’ lack of form and Viljanen having a quiet year. The Fin will average in the high 80s and try to steal legs with his solid finishing – it’s that part of his game that is arguably stronger than the Englishman’s.
This is a game where you sit and watch given the inconsistent nature of Norris plus he’s playing a tricky opponent.
Kyle Anderson vs Peter Jacques
Kyle Anderson is one of the most improved players this year. He’s always had the potential and the components of a solid player but finally he’s started to put them together.
He won a Players Championship floor event back in August, hitting a nine-darter along the way, plus in October he reached the European Championship Semi-Final’s where he also hit another nine-darter.
The Aussie is a power scorer and a big 180 hitter. Despite losing to MvG in that Semi-Final he still hit 11 maximums and averaged 95.
He’s got form on this stage too for hitting a nine-darter, something he achieved back in 2014, so I’m already looking at Anderson Over 4.5 180s (10/11 – Betfair) given how well he groups hit darts and finds the T20 bed with unerring accuracy.
People will look at Peter Jacques record this year and say he hasn’t got much of a chance. It’ll be difficult for him but he’s not a no-hoper by any stretch of the imagination.
These two met earlier in the year and it was the man from Huddersfield that came out on top and he’ll be buoyed by how well he played at the Players Championship Finals before falling to Jan Dekker, who we saw win last night.
‘The Terrier’ is a steady player and his rhythm will slow Anderson down but if he sticks to it, focusing on his own game, then he could have some joy.
Just look back to the first Players Championship event in February, you’ll see that he reached the Final beating Gary Anderson, Michael Smith and James Wade along the way proving he isn’t a mug.
This is his World Championship debut, so if the occasion and the bright lights of Alexandra Palace don’t become overbearing then I do think he’ll win at least a set if playing his best game.
Therefore, I’d be looking at the 3-1 Anderson score but I’d be more confident in backing the Anderson 180s shout above.
Jonny Clayton will face the winning of Kenny Neyens vs Jamie Lewis. From that Preliminary Round match, I would expect Lewis to win that Prelim match 2-0 and then take a set off Clayton in the first round proper.
James Wade vs Keegan Brown
Two players that have gone massively off the boil this year and this is a good opportunity for both players to find some form on the biggest stage of them all.
James Wade has spoken a lot lately of how he has to start performing in events rather than living off his name/reputation of being at the darting top table.
The last couple of years have magnified a gulf in quality between the likes of MvG, Gary Anderson and Peter Wright to Wade, who just can’t cope with players averaging 100+ against him.
‘The Machine’ is a grinder when it comes to winning and we all know that on a good day he’ll average mid-90s and win but on a bad day that slips to high-80s/low 90’s when he starts to question his throw.
And that questioning came to the fore quite recently when a number of former professionals pointed out how high his throwing action was compared to his glory days.
He’ll need to have corrected his throw here and during the Players Championships we saw some flashes of brilliance and the very worst of him.
In his Second Round match against Jamie Caven he won it with just an 80 average while he took out some classy combination finishes.
Keegan Brown won the Youth World Championship back in 2014 but hasn’t kicked on from there.
Of this year’s majors, he’s only appeared in the UK Open and that was a fleeting visit when knocked out in the first round to Paul Hogan.
To be fair to him, he nearly made the Grand Slam but lost in the final round of qualifying to James Wilson, who proved on the opening night to be a dangerous opponent.
However, it has been a year of toil and trouble for the 25-year-old. He must arrive here low on confidence after his dismantling in no time by Jermaine Wattimena at the Players Championship. The Dutchman beat him 6-0 in under ten minutes and that must be demoralising for anyone, especially with Brown averaging just under 80.
The H2H record is 3-3, so we know Brown has the beating of Wade but it the question you have to ask yourself is whether either can produce their best in the form they’ve being playing of late.
Wade hasn’t lost a first round match at Alexandra Palace since 2006 and I don’t think he’ll lose this but he’s far too short in the betting. I expect this to be full of tension and nerves from both players because they both know if they progress they have a winnable game given they know they’ll face Zoran Lerchbacher in the next round.
If pushed for a bet I still think Wade’s class on the finishing will see him over the line and Wade Highest Checkout Over 107.5 (5/6 – Betfair) is a fair bar and price. In last year’s tournament his high finishes were 141, 104, 121 and 155, so three out of four and the fact he’s quite sharp when leaving himself on 121 this looks worth a small go.
Dave Chisnall vs Vincent van der Voort
While the previous pair arrived out of form, these two arrive having a injury-hit year it’s fair to say.
Chisnall has had a mix of shoulder/back problems while van der Voort struggles with his back, quite severely at times as well.
These two are vastly experienced players and they’ll compliment each other beautifully on the oche with their rat-a-tat-tat approach to the game.
There won’t be any messing around or antics on stage because the quicker they throw, the better the scoring we should see.
‘Chizzy’ doesn’t make it easy for himself on this stage. Last year he survived a scare when forced all the way by Rowby John Rodriguez while van der Voort struggled in his opening round defeat to Max Hopp.
Who will hold their nerve on the doubling front? That’s the biggest question to ask. Two fluent throwers, who score well but can become snatchy in tight affairs on the outer ring.
That was highlighted by Chisnall in Minehead last month when losing to William O’Connor in the second round of the Players Championship Finals hitting just three darts of an attempted 18 at double (16.7%).
I’ve always said that part of his game is his Achilles heel and it could prove costly against a dangerous opponent such as Vincent.
Last year’s first round exit was something new for van der Voort, who had always progressed beyond in his nine previous visits to the PDC World Championship.
He’s been unlucky in a few games of late having shown that the ability is still there but the fact is you get judged on your results and it’s them that keep you up the rankings – something the Dutchman has failed to do and therefore slipped down.
‘The Dutch Destroyer’ lost in the final round of qualifying for the Grand Slam of Darts to Robbie Green. It was the same opponent that knocked him out of a very close first round tie at the Players Championship that could have gone either way.
This could be a coupon buster and there looks little scope for a good bet here because the bookies aren’t taking much risk by setting high bars on the 180s front, so I’ll swerve this to see how both throw, but more so Chizzy because if he wins you want to see a fluid release and follow through rather than a snatch with plenty of shoulder movement.
Ian White will play either Willard Bruguier or Cody Harris. Whoever White plays, he should be able to see through with a 3-0 win.
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