A double session of darts returns on Tuesday with the final two first round matches kicking us off. From thereon in through to Christmas every game is then a second round match. There’s a glittery array of talent on display throughout and we can sit back relax and watch the likes of Dave Chisnall, Michael Smith and Dimitri Van Den Bergh in what should be a 180 fest of darting action. Our darts expert takes you through the eight games.
Day Seven of the Championships is on Tuesday 21st December
Lewy Williams vs Toyokazu Shibata
Match due to start at 12:40pm
Not too much is known the Japanese thrower Toyokazu Shibata. He came through PDC Japan Qualifier to make his debut here but is tournament average to come through that event was an impressive 90.72.
In the final he beat Shunpei Noge 7-1 in convincing style with an excellent 95.42, hitting a whopping 70% of his doubles. Whichever you look at it he clearly has talent and despite being relatively unknown can be handful for his Welsh opponent.
Lewy Williams is precocious young talent who started off the season in wonderful style. In his opening event he beat Dimitri Van Den Bergh, Kim Huybrechts and then Michael Van Gerwen before losing to Jonny Clayton in the Last 16. That wasn’t his best performance however as he reached the Quarter Final of event 21 on the floor finding Ian White too good after previously beating Nathan Aspinall and Jose De Sousa.
Whilst we haven’t see too much of him on the big stage he did have a good run at the Hungarian Darts Trophy, reaching the Last 16 and despite losing in the opening round of the European Championships on TV he pushed Jose De Sousa all the way.
We’re going to see a lot more from him in the coming years and hopefully a victory here will mean we get the opportunity to see some more of him on the biggest stage of all.
Prediction: Lewy Williams to Win
Jason Lowe vs Daniel Larsson
Match due to start at 1:30pm
The final first round fixture of the event sees the Swede Daniel Larsson take on the man from Cradley Heath in the West Midlands Jason Lowe.
Lowe a no-nonsense sort of character caused arguably the upset of the second round last year when he defeated Michael Smith 3-1, always looking in control. He was then put to the sword too easily in the next round by Devon Petersen.
On the whole he’s a fairly consistent darter, averaging a shade under 93 for the season, he’s not a big 180 hitter as he likes to switch but he’s a steady scorer of 131 to 140. You just know he’ll make you work for you victory.
He’s not been as in good form this year but there has been glimpses of his prowess on the oche with two back to back runs at Players Championship events 8 and 9.
The same can’t be said of Larsson however, we’ve not see any glimpses from him really as we’ve hardly seen him on tour this year. He’s only played 12 matches on tour and one game at the Nordic Darts Masters and his solitary victory was against a very out of sorts Glen Durrant 6-2.
Given that you’d have to favour the Englishman to prevail but Larsson is probably a slightly better 180 hitter. I’m not going to go for that bet however I’m going for Larsson to hit over 2.5 180’s.
Prediction: Daniel Larsson Over 2.5 180’s
Mervyn King vs Ryan Joyce
Match due to start at 2:30pm
To kick us off with the remaining second round action we have a very tight game to call, as it should be from now on. Two very consistent players here who you’d imagine would push each other all the way here and not give an inch.
Joyce having looked in cruise control in his opening match Roman Benecky when he led 2-0 seemed to capitulate after crazily going for a triple bull finish in the third set. He managed to just get over the line but it was an almighty scare against his Czech opponent.
If he can put that out his mind he can make his presence felt here and potentially go on a run here. He was a Quarter-Finalist back in 2019 when it was probably unexpected but ‘relentless’ Ryan Joyce is now a player to be feared and one of the best double hitters in the game.
King needs no introduction, he’s been playing darts for as long as I can remember and has arguably played better than ever over the past 18 months or so.
At the recent World Series of Darts Finals he registered his highest evert TV average of 115.62 at the age of 55, which is also the highest ever TV average by any other English player aside from Phil Taylor.
He’s had numerous good runs this year and was a runner up in The Masters at the start of the year to Jonny Clayton, the winner of which was included in the Premier League. That wasn;t to be for King but nonetheless his standard this year has been good.
He was defeated in the Last 16 last year by eventual champion Gerwyn Price and this former Semi-Finalist can come out on top here.
Prediction: Mervyn King to Win
Dave Chisnall vs Mike De Decker
Match due to start at 3:30pm
No doubt thus us the match of the afternoon session with two players very much in form this year.
Bunting a former BDO World Champion struggled for a few years but rolled back the years as he reached the Semi-Finals here last year. He come through some tight encounters defeating Andy Boulton, James Wade, Ryan Searle and Krzysztof Ratajski before finding just Gerwyn Price too good.
He’s built on that in 2021 by claiming a title on the floor this year when he won Players Championship 17 which included big victories over Gerwyn Price and Dimitri Van Den Bergh. More recently he also had a good run to the Semi-Final of the World Grand Prix where like in this event last year he was defeated by Price.
2021 has also been a good year for Ross Smith, who claimed his maiden PDC title by winning Players Championship 19 and losing another two finals on top.
He’s not been quite as good on TV this year getting no further than a second round in any event he’s played. That was also the stage he was eliminated in this event last year to the in-form José De Sousa.
He’s already come through one game here, defeating Jeff Smith 3-0 in the opening round. He didn’t have to be at his best to advance there averaging in the eighties. He was clearly frustrated with his performance during that match. He is however a big 180 hitter but so can Bunting be on his day. From a betting perspective I expect to see a glut of them here so taking the over count in the 180’s in what could be a five setter is the way to go.
Prediction: Dave Chisnall to Hit the Most 180’s
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Vincent Van Der Voort vs Adam Hunt
Match due to start at 7:10pm
Adam Hunt was expected to be in a tight game with Boris Krcmar in his opener in a match the bookmakers struggled to find a favourite.
He won however with relative ease and by a scoreline of 3-0. That will have done is confidence oodles of good and he’ll be hoping to match last years feat of reaching the third round. Whilst he starts underdog here, it’s not the worst draw and definitely a winnable match for him.
Having said that Van Der Voort is an experienced professional making his fifteenth appearance in this event and has been twice a Quarter Finalist. His longevity is superb and he comes into this event as the 29th seed.
He acquitted himself very well in this event last year reaching the Last 17 before defeat at the hands of Daryl Gurney 4-2. He averaged around the mid 90 mark for the event and was performing to that standard in each of the three matches he played.
He comes into this in decent shape, averaging 92.81 for this years campaign on the back of a run to the Quarter Final of the most recent event the Players Championship Finals. The giant Dutchman where’s his heart on his sleeve and you’ll soon tell if it’s not going well for him.
This match should be played at a fair clip and should suit both, which may help on the maximum count so we could see a plethora of 180’s especially if Hunt can push Vincent all the way.
Michael Smith vs Ron Meulenkamp
Match due to start at 8:00pm
Michael ‘Bully Boy’ Smith was eliminated in the second round last year by Jason Lowe after he produced a very under par performance. As a result he was not invited to take part in this years Premier League and he felt aggrieved by that.
He’s certainly tried to silence any doubters and he’s in decent form this year. A dual winner on the floor, also a runner up and a further seven quarter finals. That’s a third of the Players Championship events that were held in 2021.
Looking at his performances on stage, he’s picked up in this respect in the second half of this year. A Quarter-Finalist at the Matchplay he was emphatically put to the sword by Peter Wright but so was everyone else that week. He was runner up in the Hungarian Darts Trophy to Gerwyn Price and he was a Semi-Finalist at the Grand Slam of Darts. The manner of the last defeat would’ve hurt however as he had a comfortable lead but couldn’t withstand a Peter Wright revival. He’s a lively outsider here with his power scoring as he boasts a 0.29 per leg strike rate on the 180 front.
His opponent is also good in that respect, although he surprisingly drew a blank in that statistical field in his 3-0 victory against an out of sorts Lisa Ashton. The pressure and occasion of that match may not have helped and it should sort him more here.
He also amasses 180’s at 0.29 per leg and this match promises 180’s galore.
Prediction: Over 8.5 180’s
Dimitri Van Den Bergh vs Florian Hempel
Match due to start at 9:00pm
Florian Hempel won the battle of the Germans in his opening 3-0 victory over Martin Schindler and this former professional handball player really is progressing at a rate of knots this year.
It was a tight encounter to call prior to the match but he just was the tidier finisher of the two on the day and as the game wore on he just looked the more likely victor.
He will have to improve on that performance further to beat his Belgian opponent but he may be capable. He’s already defeated Peter Wright on stage at the European Championship, in front of the TV cameras but that was only a relatively short format. Here however he faces a top class opponent over three sets but his steep progressive curve suggests he could be up to the task.
One area he may lack in, is his 180 per leg ratio. 0.26 over the course of the season isn’t bad but here he faces the second best 180 hitter over the course of 2021 in Dimitri Van Den Bergh at 0.35 per leg.
The 2020 Matchplay champion went close to defending that title this year, losing in the final to good friend Peter Wright. During last year’s event he was immense arguably the most impressive before losing a classic to Dave Chisnall.
His 180 per leg ratio during the event was 0.43 and you’d have to say he’s a player who thrives on the big stage and bounces off the atmosphere provided by the crowd.
This currently may be as step too far for Hempel at this stage of his career and I think the power scoring of Van Den Bergh will be too much.
Prediction: Van Den Bergh to Hit the Most 180’s
Devon Petersen vs Raymond Smith
Match due to start at 10:00pm
Australian Smith was one of the most impressive winners in the opening round as he averaged 94.84 in defeating Jamie Hughes 3-1. His doubling was superb too, hitting 58.8% of his attempts it really was the complete performance from the experienced arrow smith.
Impressive isn’t a description you’d give to the season being experienced by the likeable South African Devon Petersen. One of the biggest 180 hitters in 2020 and one of the stars on the circuit as he claimed his maiden Euro Tour title.
This year however has been a stark contrast and it simply hasn’t clicked for him. He’s won just 41.5% of his matches in 2021 and has exited in either the first or second round of 21 of the last 24 players championship events and won just 2 of his last 18 matches.
He did produce a good run at the UK Open where he lost in the Quarter-Final to Gerwyn Price but since then he’s lost his opening match at the Hungarian Darts Trophy, Gibraltar Darts Trophy, World Matchplay and Players Championship Finals.
One of the biggest reasons for his loss in form has to be his 180 ability has deserted him. In 2020 he was hitting them at 0.38, this year that’s just 0.23, a nearly 40% drop in his efficiency.
The bookies can’t separate them and I’d favour Smith in this one but take him on the handicap here to prevail.
Prediction: Raymond Smith to Win +1.5 Sets
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