There’s a double session on Saturday for what promises to be another raucous atmosphere with many dart fan now broke up for the Christmas break. The evening session is headlined by none other than Michael Van Gerwen who awaits the victor of the Thursday afternoon match between Chas Barstow and John Norman Jnr. Once again Carl Fletcher looks ahead to the action…
Day Four of the Championships is on Saturday 18 December
Jamie Hughes vs Raymond Smith
Match due to start at 12:40pm
The opening match sees Black Country arrow smith Jamie Hughes take on Australian Raymond Smith. Hughes who was the Number 28 seed last year is unseeded this year and had a delayed start to his 2021 campaign following elbow surgery in January.
Twice a BDO World Semi-Finalist Hughes hasn’t matched his previous season exploits but it’s not all been doom and gloom for ‘Yozza’ as he has reached the Semi-Final twice on the floor along a with a further Quarter-Final. In each of these games he’s been denied by a top class opponent in Luke Humphries, Dimitri Van Den Bergh and Peter Wright.
It was no surprise to see him lose his opening match at the UK Open against Martijn Kleermaker as this was his first game after his return from surgery although he’ll probably be disappointed not to have qualified for either of the Euro Tour events, the World Series of Darts Finals or Grand Slam of Darts through the qualifiers, particularly the latter which is a local event for him.
His seasonal average of 91.07 is lower than this man can produce and looking at his recent games his performances are on the up. In his last 21 matches he’s notched up four ton plus averages and two whitewash victories and at the final Super Series block of action he won five of his eight matches.
Smith has been in the game a long time and has appeared in this event before back in 2019, losing to Alan Tabern 3-2 at this stage. He claimed his place in this event by winning the DPA Tour Finals, defeating Robbie King 6-1 in the final, averaging 94.44.
That win meant he joined his son Ky Smith in the field to become the first ever father and son combination in the field. This represents a winnable game for him and it’s a difficult call. I think this will go all the way. Who wins? I’m not 100% sure but would slightly favour Hughes albeit he’s not looked at home previously on this Ally Pally stage.
Prediction: Over 3.5 Sets
Callan Rydz vs Yuki Yamada
Match due to start at 1:30pm
For many years Callan Rydz has been tipped up to go on to major things in the sports of darts and this year has been somewhat of a breakthrough year for him.
He claimed both his maiden and second title on the main PDC tour in 2021 winning Players Championship events two and twenty-five but the highlight for him has got to be his run to the Quarter Finals of the World Matchplay. During this event he beat both Glen Durrant and Rob Cross before falling to Krzysztof Ratajski.
He’s had numerous other good runs through the year and even in defeat at the most recent event, the Players Championship finals to James Wade he lost a thriller to James Wade 6-5 despite averaging 100+.
Yuki Yamada a winner on the Asia Tour before is the qualifier from the PDJ Japan Championship Winner averaging 87.05 for the qualifying event. He is making his second appearance at the World Championship after featuring in the 2020 event. On that occasion he reached the second round after causing a minor shock in round one, defeating Ryan Meikle 3-1 before losing 3-0 to Darren Webster in the next round.
As for Rydz last year he came through an opening round match with Australian James Bailey 3-1 before an underpar performance and a crushing 3-0 defeat to James Wade. He’s better than that however and is 94.78 seasonal average is probably what you come to expect of him now. He should be too good for Yamada, I’m expecting a 3-1 victory here.
Prediction: Callan Rydz to Win -2.5 Sets
Darius Labanauskas vs Mike De Decker
Match due to start at 2:30pm
For me the Lithuanian Labanauskas is one of the most underrated darters in the game at the moment, a very consistent player who reached the semi-final of the final Players Championship floor event losing to eventual champion, Krzysztof Ratajski. It’s surely only a matter of time before he claims a title in his own right.
He was a Quarter-Finalist in 2020 losing 5-2 to Michael Van Gerwen at that stage. He also lost to the same opponent in the Nordic Darts Masters this year and that seems to be a regular theme of losing to a top opponent. This year alone in televised tournaments he’s been defeated by Simon Whitlock, Ian White and Jose De Sousa.
He’s never been a big 180 hitter at 0.15 per leg and is seasonal average is a steady 92.81, it’s his finishing that’s the key component to his game with a doubles percentage of 48.57% and winning nigh on 13% of his legs by virtue of a ton plus checkout.
Mike De Decker is fortunate to be here and was the first reserve for the event. He’s replaced Charles Losper after he withdrew due to visa issues.
He was awful last year when he lost to Edward Foulkes 3-0 in this round averaging 86.74. He is capable of more than that and is averaging 90.97 for the season.
What is worrying however was his performance at the recent Grand Slam of Darts. He lost all three group games by an aggregate score of 15-1, he looked completely devoid of confidence after his opening 5-1 defeat to Gabriel Clemens.
With that in mind I think Labanauskas will go through to round two convincingly.
Prediction: Labanauskas to Win
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Ian White vs Scott Mitchell/Chris Landman
Ian ‘Diamond’ White has always found the majors a struggle. He has a lovely throwing action that should really hold it together under the utmost scrutiny but for some reason on the whole he just doesn’t seem to be able to bring his floor game to the big stage.
Having said that he’s not really sparkled on the floor this year with just two semi-finals and a quarter final to show for his efforts. This is evident in his seasonal average of 94.80 which is down two points on his season average from the previous year which was 96.82.
Last year he lost in the second round to Kim Huybrechts despite averaging 102.35 in a high quality game, he lost the previous year to Darius Labanauskas at the same stage and similarly the year before that he lost Devon Petersen 3-2, seemingly losing a game that was easier to win after blazing into a 2-0 lead. That match just typifies what happens to him on the big stage when a glut of missed doubles cost him.
I tipped Scott Mitchell to come through his opening match with Chris Landman and I really think that Mitchell could have decent run in this event. He’s a former BDO World Champion so we know the format and pressure of the event won’t faze him.
Given Ian White’s record on stage I believe it’s worth siding with whoever his opponent is here, whether that be at the normal odds or on the handicap with a 1.5 set start.
Adam Hunt vs Boris Krcmar
Match due to start at 7:10pm
Boris Krcmar came through the PDPA qualifier to be here and similarly he also advanced through the qualifiers in both Euro Tour events held this year and also the World Series of Qualifiers. He really has been strong in that aspect of events this year.
Once qualified however he hasn’t fared quite as well winning just one of his seven matches held in these events afterwards, in particular he was very disappointing in the Grand Slam of Darts losing 5-0, 5-2 and 5-1 with a tournament average of just 88.73.
Similarly Hunt hasn’t been in outstanding form himself either. He’s won just 5 of his last 15 matches coming into this event and is averaging below 90 for the season at 88.88.
Both players were here last year. Krcmar lost to Ron Meulenkamp 3-1 in a game he riled Meulenkamp and averaged 89.82. Hunt fared better and reached the Last 32 after beating Lisa Ashton 3-2 and Jamie Hughes 3-0 before arguably playing his best game against Dirk Van Duijvenbode despite losing 4-0. It’s a funny game at times is darts!
I’m not confident about backing either of these players but the Evens available for Hunt is more than fair and I’d be siding for that.
Prediction: Adam Hunt to Win +1.5 Sets
Ted Evetts vs Jim Williams
Match due to start at 8:00pm
World Youth Champion Ted Evetts has been around for some time now and is a very steady player. He’s averaging 90.07 for the season which is respectable but he comes in this in a very poor run of form, losing 10 of his last 11 matches against the seasoned pro’s.
Jim Williams was a runner up in the BDO World Darts Championships in 2020 and has a string of successes to his name when based within that organisation.
He has featured in both the UK Open and the Grand Slam of Darts in 2021. In the UK Open he came through the first two rounds which included a 100+ average before losing in the third round to the Latvain, Madars Razma 6-2.
He was unfortunate not to advance through the group stage, winning two matches against James Wade and Boris Krcmar, his solitary loss came to Rob Cross. It was a tough group and despite falling at this early stage, he came out of the event with an enhanced reputation, averaging 91.34 across these three games.
Ted Evetts has appeared in this event and his most memorable moment is arguably his defeat to Fallon Sherrock. This combined with his recent run of form is enough for me to prefer Williams in this one and that’s where I’ll be placing my bets at a shade of odds on.
Prediction: Jim Williams to Win
Rowby-John Rodriguez vs Nick Kenny
Match due to start at 9:00pm
A match between the Austrian Rodriguez and Welshman Kenny. Rowby-John despite not being a tour card holder this year featured in 29 of the 30 Players Championship events and performed creditably reaching the Last 16 on three occasions.
In these tour matches they’ve met twice and it was Rodriguez who comfortably won 6-2 on each occasion and averaged the higher both times.
We also saw him at the Grand Slam of Darts and he came through the group stage with two victories defeating Chris Dobey and Stephen Bunting. Unfortunately he was never at the races in the next round as he lost 10-2 to James Wade. He had an excellent tournament average of 95.80.
Kenny came through four qualifying matches to be here averaging mid-nineties in three of them. It will be his second appearance at this Worlds and last year he managed to win his opening match against Derk Telnekes then lost to Jermaine Wattimena 3-1 in round two. On both occasions he averaged around the 88 mark which is also his seasonal average at 88.94.
I believe Rodriguez has the extra gears and will be too good for Kenny in this best of five sets game. What was noticeable from their two games this year is that the Austrian raced into an early 3-1 lead on both occasions so taking him to win the first set is a way to go.
Prediction: Rowby-John Rodriguez to Win
Michael Van Gerwen vs Chas Barstow/John Norman Jnr
Michael Van Gerwen was a long time World Number One but now finds himself third in the Order of Merit behind Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright. He’s struggled this year in comparison to the two aforementioned players and is also way short of the standard set by Jonny Clayton this year too.
He’s averaging 99.34 for the year which is the highest of all tour card holders but his results haven’t been as good as previous years with just titles to his name and he’s now gone a full calendar year without winning a major for the first time in a decade.
His opponent is still to be decided and it’s not an easy game to call. Barstow is the slight favourite to prevail but whoever MVG faces he’ll go a red hot favourite.
You’d be very surprised if he stuttered as this stage and he’ll be desperate to regain his crown that he lost won back in 2019.
Looking at historical data he’s won his opening match by a scoreline of 3-1 in the last four World Championships against players including Christian Kist, Alan Tabern, Jelle Klaasen and Ryan Murray. Like this game you’d have expected him to have won the majority of those 3-0 so perhaps there’s a bit of value in going for a correct score of 3-1. That’s definitely something that’s a possibility with the pressure he may feel under this year with a point or two to prove.
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