PDC World Championship Previews – Saturday 20th December (Afternoon)
Saturday December 20
12.40pm Andy Smith (28) v Ronny Huybrechts
This will be Andy Smith 10th consecutive PDC World Championships which is a good achievement, though his actual results have been on the whole disappointing with his best performances being reaching the last 16 on two occasions. Smith is a regular in major TV tournaments but his best results have always been in the floor events which have actually been below his usual standards this season with only two quarter-final appearances.
Having only joined the PDC in January 2013 Ronny Huybrechts has given a good account of himself over the past two seasons, including recording wins over van Gerwen, Taylor, Lewis and Wade as well as many other of the top 16 players. He has played in a number of the big TV events so has plenty of experience on the big stage.
Verdict: No clear favourite in this match and it could easily go to a last leg decider. Andy Smith can never quite translate his form away from the main stage into the big tournaments whereas Huybrechts seems the more likely to raise his level. I tip Huybrechts to squeeze through 3-2.
2.15pm Scott Mackenzie v Daryl Gurney (P)
Mackenzie will be competing in his 3rd PDC World Championship having qualified this time through the PDPA qualifying event. This season he has played some events on the challenge tour reaching two semi-finals as well as the playing in the occasional Pro Tour tournament without any real success. Apart from qualifying for the World Championships his most notable success this season was in his singles match in the Last 16 of the World Cup where he beat Paul Nicholson 4-1.
Gurney previously qualified for the BDO World Championship twice reaching the last 16 on both occasions and losing to Martin Adams also on both occasions. His first taste of the PDC World Championships came two years ago when he won two games (beating Andy Smith in the Last 64) before bowing out to Dave Chisnall. Gurney had some decent results in the BDO but has never really showed the potential he promised since joining the PDC.
Verdict: This might be the highest quality game of the prelim round, the two have met previously in the 2013 qualifying school when Gurney edged their encounter 6-5 and this match could be just close. I think Gurney will win this 4-3.
3.00pm Justin Pipe (17) v Lawrence Ryder
This has been a mixed year for Pipe, he has won a tournament on the tour this season and reached the final of two other ranking events but on the TV stage he has struggled to match the achievements of last season and has exited early in all of the major ranking tournaments, in fact he has been defeated in each of his last six matches in TV ranking events going back to last year’s World Championship when he lost to Devon Petersen in the Last 32.
Australian qualifier Lawrence Ryder finished top of the DPA rankings to qualify for this tournament and will be making his first appearance in a PDC major ranking event. He did compete in the Sydney Masters and the Perth Masters back in the summer where he lost 6-0 to Peter Wright and 6-2 to Raymond van Barneveld respectively.
Verdict: Despite his poor run of form in the TV events Justin Pipe carries a lot more proven quality and experience than Ryder. I would expect Pipe to come through this match fairly comfortably by a 3-0 or 3-1 scoreline.
4.00pm Robert Thornton (9) v Andrew Gilding
Robert Thornton has never been past the last 16 at the PDC World Championships which for a player of his ability is surprising. A former UK Open winner and World Masters champion he is capable of beating any player in the draw on the big stage. Thornton has not gone far in the major ranking events this season though he did win 3 consecutive pro tour events back in April/May.
This season has been a breakthrough year for Gilding, having reached two finals on the tour and also qualified for the UK Open, World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and Players Championship Finals, although he has exited early in those major TV events the experience gained will benefit him as he enters his first World Championships.
Verdict: There are certainly easier matches that Thornton could have had against one of potentially more dangerous unseeded players. Gilding will have no fears as he has recorded wins against some of the big names this season. The outcome of the match really depends how quickly Thornton settles into the game, if he finds the treble 20 early on and his favoured double top he will take some stopping but there is also a chance of Gilding applying good pressure. I am going for a 3-1 victory for Thornton.
5.00pm Ronnie Baxter (24) v Scott Mackenzie/Daryl Gurney
Baxter will be competing at his 23rd World Championships which is an excellent achievement, though he has failed to get past the second round in his last 4 attempts. Still a regular in most of the major TV events Baxter has only won 1 out of his past 12 matches in TV major ranking events, in fairness this season he has come up against the likes of Lewis, Bunting and Taylor in major tournaments. Overall this season Baxter has slipped down the rankings and he needs a good run to get back into the top 20.
Verdict: This could be a match in which the winner of the prelim games poses real problems for the seed they are facing. Again the advantage of having already played on the stage earlier in the afternoon might help Mackenzie or Gurney settle into the game quickly and with Baxter not showing his form of old too often it could be a tough encounter for Ronnie. I tip Baxter just to get through 3-2 but I wouldn’t rule out the winner of the prelim causing a surprise.