Friday sees the start of the 2014 (don’t ask) World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace. A combination of preliminary and first round matches will take place over the next six days to decipher the last 32.
Here are some selections for the coming days.
KIM HUYBRECHTS V RONNY HUYBRECHTS
In what is probably the tie of the round, Belgian brothers Kim and Ronny do battle on the grandest stage of all.
As well as being siblings, these two are often practice partners and know each other inside out. There is a 20 year age gap between the brothers but they are closely knit, as was evident in their latest encounter at last month’s Grand Slam.
On that occasion it was younger sibling Ronny who coasted to a 10-5 victory and most darts fans believe he will enjoy a similar level of comfort in this clash. At the Grand Slam Kim remained professional but definitely took his foot off the pedal a little towards the latter stages; in a World Championship match that will not be happening.
Since a first-round elimination at last year’s event, Kim has developed his game greatly. The 28-year-old has arguably made the biggest improvement of any PDC player and is now up to 12th in the rankings. A successful tournament would also set him on his way to making the Premier League tournament.
The younger Huybrechts will want to at least match his 2012 showing (quarter-finalist) and, family ties aside, couldn’t have asked for a better opening match.
Ronnie to win 3-0 at 6/4 with Bet 365
PAUL NICHOLSON V STUART KELLETT
Semi-pro Stuart Kellett will be looking to avenge his recent defeat to Paul Nicholson at the Grand Slam of Darts by defeating the Asset in this clash at Ally Pally.
Nicholson is probably best remembered for his on stage antics rather than any actual achievements in the game. The egotistical and sometimes downright disrespectful man from Corby has had spats with Phil Taylor and often tries to engage into mind games and could use those tactics in an attempt to get inside the head of Kellett, who has only played once on this stage.
In their meeting last month, Nicholson came out with a comfortable 5-2 victory. Whilst Kellett is definitely capable of upsetting the favourite, the occasion may get to the man who still has a full-time job in web design.
Kellett could well be the fans favourite in this one but I expect Nicholson to win.
Nicholson to win 4/6 with William Hill
A 180s DOUBLE
Some of the ‘match winner’ prices are so tight that you’d need to string at least 6 or 7 together for it to be worthwhile. I’m always wary of a shock and would much prefer to double up on the 180s market.
Double: Anderson and Barneveld to hit the most 180s in their respective matches at 1.61/1 with Bet 365
In round 1, I fancy Gary Anderson to hit the most 180s against Mark Dudbridge. The Flying Scotsman should soar through to round 2 in all honesty and could be worth including in any accumulators. However, I’m more interested in this 180s market; the 2011 runner-up’s scoring has never been in question and he should hit a couple of maximums even if the match is over within 3 sets.
Likewise, Raymond van Barneveld’s progression is very tight whilst the odds of 4/6 to hit the most maximums is definitely one to consider. It’s unlikely that the Dutchman will ever add to his 5 world titles but he is still capable of placing darts into that t20 bed.
Whilst it’s hard to find a case against backing Phil Taylor, a price of 4/5 simply doesn’t appeal as there will be opportunities to make money during The Power’s route to the final.
However, on the other side of the draw the standout has to be MvG. His form has been a little bit off in recent months and questions are still to be answered about his mentality in matches which he trails, but there is no denying his talent. Whilst Lewis could face Wade in a ¼ final, MvG has a relatively easy route to the stage and would still be fancied against either of those potential semi-final meetings.
At 7/2 I think the Dutchman is well worth taking with a view to possibly trading out later in the tournament.