Darts – PDC World Championship Match Previews (Days 1 and 2)

Hi folks, I have been putting some match previews together for the PDC World Championships so thought I would blog them.

Here are the previews for the matches being played on the opening two sessions. If anyone is interested I will post more throughout the tournament. Maybe adding some stats as the rounds progress.

Thursday December 18
7.10pm John Part (30) v Keegan Brown

A tough draw for former 3 time World Champion Part, who comes into the tournament on the back of an uninspiring season that has seen him feature more on the TV screens as a pundit than a darts player. Part’s best performances on tour have been two quarter-final appearances in European Tour events.

Keegan Brown won the PDC Under-21 World Championship back in May and caught the public’s attention with his performances at the Grand Slam where he beat Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld before bowing out against Dave Chisnall 16-14 in a match he should have won. Brown has also beaten other players in the top 10 this season including Phil Taylor. The head to head favours Brown, with him defeating Part on two occasions this season.

Verdict: On current form it is difficult to see Part getting the better of Brown and I expect Brown to progress by 3 sets to 1.

8.15pm Christian Perez v Cristo Reyes (P)

This will be the third time Perez from the Philippines has competed in the PDC World Championships, having won his prelim match on both previous occasions, notably beating the steady Danish player Per Laursen 4-3 in the 2010 event before taking a set off Robert Thornton in a 3-1 defeat. Perez has played most of his darts on the soft tip circuit having lost in the Soft Tip Dartslive Grand Final in 2013.

Spaniard Reyes qualified through the Iberian qualifying event beating former World Championship qualifiers Carlos Rodriguez and Julio Barbero on his way to a 6-0 win over Jose Rodriguez in the final. Not a lot is really known of the ability of Reyes but the Spanish qualifiers have usually put in decent enough performances to suggest he will be competitive.

Verdict: Due to the extra experience and knowledge of Perez past World Championship appearances I lean towards a Perez win by 4-2 or 4-3.
9.00pm Jelle Klaasen (29) v Christian Kist
Arguably the most exciting match up of the first round with two Dutch former BDO World Champions facing off. Klaasen has recently broken back into the top 32 and is probably a better overall player now than he was when he won his world title. The highlights of Klaasen’s season have been his performances in the last two TV ranking events in which he has recorded wins over Adrian Lewis and James Wade (108.74 average in his win against Wade). Consistency though is still a problem for Klassen.

Kist has made an excellent impression since moving over to the PDC at the start of the year, qualifying for 3 of the TV ranking tournaments including reaching the last 16 at the UK Open. One semi-final and three quarter-finals on the tour have played a big part in him rising quickly up the ranking.  Very solid in and around the treble 20, Kist has the ability to match some of the heavy scorers.

Verdict: A very hard game to call and a lot depends on which Jelle Klaasen shows up. The consistency of Kist makes me edge towards him but this match could easily go 3-2 either way.

10.00pm Michael van Gerwen (1) v Joe Cullen

Reigning World Champion van Gerwen starts his defence of the trophy on the opening night, van Gerwen is probably not seen as showing the dominant form he had coming into last years event but he has still had a very successful season winning the World Grand Prix and European Championship, not to mention the World Cup with van Barneveld, along with 5 other pro tour ranking event titles. His defeats this year in ranking TV tournaments have come at the hands of Terry Jenkins (twice) and in the World Matchplay final against Phil Taylor.

Joe Cullen is making his fifth consecutive appearance at the PDC World Championships and in his previous four attempts he has not gone past the first round, also failing to win a set in his last three visits. This season has seen him slip down the rankings a little after previously pushing towards the top 32; his best results this season have been two semi-finals in pro tour events, most recently in October where he won 6-4 against van Gerwen on his way to the semis.

Verdict: Although Cullen has had some success against van Gerwen previously (7-4 to MVG on the head to head) 3 of those wins came over 3 years ago when van Gerwen was not at this standard. Cullen might come close in a couple of sets but I see MVG winning this one 3-0.

11.00pm Wes Newton (13) v Christian Perez/Cristo Reyes

Newton has not enjoyed the best of seasons though he did show some positive signs in the recent Players Championship finals where he reached the semi-final before losing to Adrian Lewis. A quarter-final placing at the World Matchplay earlier in the year is a bit more deceiving as Newton struggled through to that stage scraping through ugly games against Baxter and Nicholson. He has reached the quarter-final at the World Championship on three occasions narrowly losing 5-4 in each of these matches.

Verdict: Difficult to assess with not knowing who Newton will be playing, sometimes the qualifiers can settle into the game having already played a match on stage earlier in the evening and this might see either Perez or Reyes taking a set from Newton though I still expect Newton to progress by a 3-1 scoreline.

DAY TWO

Friday December 19
7.10pm Andy Hamilton (12) v Dave Richardson

2012 World Championship finalist Hamilton ended his long drought without a ranking tournament title by winning the opening UK Open qualifier back in February, but his performance in TV ranking tournaments has been below the levels of previous years, reaching the last 16 of the World Matchplay has been his best showing on the TV stage.

Canadian Richardson qualified by winning the PDC North American Qualifying Event, defeating Ken MacNeil and Shaun Narain in the final two rounds, although relatively unknown he isn’t likely to be a pushover a lot will depends on how he settles on the big stage.

Verdict: Hamilton has not been showing the consistency of recent years but still brings plenty of experience of the World Championships and should have the capability to ensure he progresses. I wouldn’t rule out Richardson giving him a tough ride at times and possibly taking a set. Hamilton 3-1 is my pick.

8.15pm Kim Viljanen v Sascha Stein (P)

Viljanen from Finland has played most of his darts on the SDC (Scandinavian) circuit this year, winning an event and reaching four semi-finals he finished 3rd on the order of merit behind Haavisto and Komula. Prior to this he has competed in some BDO events over the years including the World Masters on a handful of occasions.

Sascha Stein qualified through the German qualifying event, losing in the final match 10-8 to Max Hopp after beating previous WC qualifier Andree Welge in the semi-final. Stein has mostly competed in soft tip darts over the years and this is his first major steel tip tournament.

Verdict: I can see this match being a very close encounter; neither has played at the World Championships before so both will feel some nerves. Sitting on the fence I predict a 4-3 win either way.

9.00pm Peter Wright (5) v Gerwyn Price   

Peter Wright returns to the stage in which he had great success last year in reaching the final, a result which saw him rocket up the rankings and earn a Premier League spot. Wright has won a couple of tour events this season, though his results in TV ranking events have not been overly impressive with a quarter-final appearance at the European Championship been his best showing.

Welshman Price who is also a rugby player is competing in his first season on the PDC having earned his tour card at the first attempt in January. Price has had a reasonable season having reached a semi-final and two quarter-finals in pro tour events, as well as recording wins against Gary Anderson and James Wade.

Verdict: Wright could be inspired by his great memories of the Alexandra Palace stage having gone all the way to the final last year whilst this is the first big stage appearance for Price. Although Price could give Wright some problems and I think he might take a set it will be Wright who progresses 3-1.

10.00pm Phil Taylor (2) v Jyhan Artut

After a shaky start to the year Taylor has since shown he is still potentially the man to beat. His season highlights being winning both the World Matchplay and the Grand Slam with some dominant performances. Although he has been beaten by Wade (twice), Bunting and Anderson in TV events it has taken some inspired darts by those players to beat him.

Artut is no stranger to the World Championships having competed in them three times previously, most recently running Gary Anderson very close three years ago just losing out 3-2 in the first round. Artut competes regularly on the pro tour and is used to playing the top players but hasn’t had too many wins against top 16 players recently.

Verdict: Taylor has shown too much good form on TV in recent events to suggest to me he will struggle in this match, the biggest danger may be opening round nerves which still affect the biggest names though I think Taylor will win 3-0 with a 100+ average.

11.00pm Stuart Kellett (32) v Kim Viljanen/Sascha Stein
Kellett broke into the top 32 at the start of the year but his results this year have seen his rise up the rankings stall with one quarter-final appearance on the pro tour and also failing to qualify for the major TV events barring the UK Open and of course this tournament. Kellett has failed to win a set in his two previous PDC World Championship appearances having lost 3-0 to van der Voort and Nicholson.

Verdict: This could be a very tricky game for Kellett, due to his uninspiring season he doesn’t come into the tournament with any great momentum. His opponent will have already played on the stage earlier in the evening and it will be worth seeing how they perform before judging this game.

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