The PDC World Darts Championship is well underway, and it’s part of Christmas tradition to watch some of the planet’s top tungsten stars take to the stage at the illustrious Alexandra Palace. Several first round matches have already taken place, with the rest of the games plus the second round contests set to be played between now and the 29th of December.
There were few surprises on the opening couple of days of the competition, with Gary Anderson and Peter Wright both easing through with straight set victories over Andy Boulton and Keegan Brown respectively. Day Two was much more lively as number 12 seed Kim Huybrechts became the biggest casualty of the fledgling tournament, going down 3-2 to Englishman David Pallett after surrendering a 2-1 lead. Michael van Gerwen also survived a huge scare as he was taken to a tie break in his opening game with Rene Eidams. Mighty Mike raced into a two-set lead, but the 26 year-old German – making his TV debut – won six out of seven legs to take the game to a deciding set, then forced van Gerwen to a tie break at at two legs each. The world number one then produced two sterling legs to avoid an embarrassing exit, and declared afterwards that the early pressure would do him good.
The shocks continued on day three, with Ricky Evans getting the better of number 10 seed Simon Whitlock, and Dimitri Van den Bergh seeing off number 9 seed Ian White. There were no such problems for Phil Taylor who produced a 3-0 whitewash against Keita Ono to book his place in the next round. Day four saw Raymond van Barneveld and Stephen Bunting also complete 3-0 whitewashes, as they beat Dirk van Duijvenbode and Jyhan Artut to set up a second round match against each other.
The action continues throughout the week, and we’ve got our eye on some of the big-hitters over the next few days.
Adrian Lewis v Jan Dekker
The Jackpot has a real liking for Alexandra Palace and this tournament in particular, having won it twice in 2011 and 2012. He’s up against European Pro Tour qualifier Jan Dekker, and the Dutch player will find opportunities hard to come by if Lewis is at his best. The Englishman was a semi-finalist at the European Championship, a quarter-finalist at the Grand Slam of Darts, and a finalist at the Players Championship. He’s coming back into form at just the right time, and will fancy his chances of going all the way, let alone past the first round. At a best price of -769 to win the match outright, there’s little appeal unless you’re a ‘money-buyer’, but the 3-0 correct scoreline is much more enticing.
Gary Anderson v Daryl Gurney
Gary Anderson is set to play his second round match on Saturday, and he can be backed with a -2.5 sets handicap at -133 with Betfair
Daryl Gurney has had a good couple of months, including the shock 10-4 defeat he inflicted on Anderson at the recent Players Championships. He advanced to the semi-finals of that competition before coming up against a rampant Michael van Gerwen, and will hope to further his reputation at the World Championships. However, Anderson will be brewing for revenge for that defeat, and he will not take Gurney lightly here.
The Scotsman admitted he was nervous about defending his title, but that barely showed as he brushed Andy Boulton aside in straight sets. The second round is played over the best of seven, and although Anderson is a short price for the match outright, the odds on him beating the -2.5 handicap look more presentable.
Michael van Gerwen v Darren Webster
Michael van Gerwen often hits back with a vengeance after a poor performance, and he’s more than capable of whitewashing Darren Webster 4-0 at +150 with Skybet
We’ve already backed the current world number one to win the whole competition, and after winning the last four TV tournaments in a row, he’s still on course to make it five from five. Webster claimed a great result in the first round, knocking out Scotland’s John Henderson, but this is as big a step up as one can imagine and he’ll be hard-pressed to dent van Gerwen’s title charge. Again there’s no real value in the outright win, so our Sunday punt is on the 4-0 correct score.
Phil Taylor v Kevin Painter
We’ve also backed Phil Taylor to win his quarter of the tournament, and he can also overcome the handicap in his second round match against Kevin Painter on Monday. He’s -175 with Coral to overcome a -2.5 set deficit, and the Power has got the bit between his teeth again.
He said after beating Keita Ono in the first round that he was ‘sick of losing’ and ‘sick of Michael van Gerwen’, at least in the sense of watching someone else do a ‘better job’ than him. That’s the sort of fighting talk we like to hear from Taylor, and the early +500 we took on his each-way chances will look better and better as the competition wears on. Painter beat Finnish player Kim Viljanen 3-0 in the first round and will relish a televised clash with Taylor, but he will be well up against it, particularly with the vocal crowd likely to be on the Power’s side.
We wouldn’t put anyone off a small accumulator with these four selections to win their games outright, as we expect them to, but we’re searching for the better prices at this early stage.
Adrian Lewis to beat Jan Dekker 3-0
Wednesday 23rd December, 21:30 GMT
Gary Anderson -2.5 Handicap to beat Daryl Gurney
Saturday 26th December, 21:00 GMT
Michael van Gerwen to beat Darren Webster 4-0
Sunday 27th December, 22:00 GMT
Phil Taylor -2.5 Handicap to beat Kevin Painter
Monday 28th December, 21:30 GMT
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