PDC World Championship – Day Five Preview
We are in day 5 of the PDC World Championship’s, there is just one session which is this evening and here are my previews and verdicts on all the matches.
Monday December 21 (7pm-11pm)
Warrick Scheffer v John Michael (Prelim)
- Warrick Scheffer has qualified for the World Championships for the 1st time, having won the South African Masters, 23 year old Scheffer defeated former qualifier Charles Losper in the semi-finals of that event.
- He had failed to qualify on the 3 previous years he had attempted but did lose to the eventual qualifiers Charl Pietersen and Devon Petersen on 2 of those attempts.
- Michael is playing at his 3rd World Championships having played in this tournament last year and he qualified for the BDO version in 2013. He earned his place this year by winning the South Europe event, notably beating former tour card holder Alcinas in the final.
- He won his prelim match last year, defeating Jani Haavisto 4-1 and averaging just under 95. He went on to lose 3-1 to Ian White in the Last 64 and never replicated the form from the prelim match.
- Michael reached the semi-final of the WDF World Cup singles this year on the PDC Euro Tour he only qualified for 1 event having participated in 8 of the qualifiers, though in the event he did qualify for, he defeated Daryl Gurney in the first round.
John Michael comes with the more experience having competed on the big TV stage a few times and has some good wins in his career. Scheffer is still young and a bit of an unknown quantity, he hasn’t competed in any PDC or significant international tournaments previously so it’s difficult to know his full ability. On what I know about Michael I would tip him to win but as has been shown previously in prelims it is worth treading carefully if betting on the outcome.
Robert Thornton v Alan Norris
- Thornton is playing in his 10th World Championship (8th in the PDC). He has never been past the quarter-final stage which for a player of his ability could be classed as a surprise. The first time he actually got as far as a quarter-final in the PDC version was last year (he did reach 2 QF’s in his only 2 BDO World Champs).
- He has never lost a 1st round match at any World Championship he has played in and has never been taken to a deciding set in a 1st round match.
- Another stat worth mentioning is that all of his defeats at World Championships have been against top 8 seeded players
- Since winning the Grand Prix he has been beaten in the opening round of 2 TV ranking tournament, although he did reach the quarter-finals at the Grand Slam of Darts.
- This is his debut in the PDC World Championships having only moved across from the BDO earlier this year. He played in 7 BDO World Champs, reaching the final in 2014 where he lost to Bunting.
- He only lost once in the 1st round during his BDO days which was a 3-2 defeat against Robert Wagner in 2010. He has wins against the likes of Waites, Durrant, Wilson, van de Pas and Winstanley on the BDO World Championship stage.
- He qualified for 3 other PDC TV ranking tournaments this year, losing in his opening match in both the UK Open and European Championship but winning against Jenkins in the 1st round of the Players Championship Finals before losing to Adrian Lewis in the Last 16.
This is without doubt one of the most eye-catching ties of the Last 64 with multiple TV ranking winner Robert Thornton against former BDO world finalist Alan Norris who has a ranking tournament win to his name this season. Thornton has been struggling with a foot problem over recent months and hasn’t really been producing his best form since winning the Grand Prix. Norris is capable of some excellent scoring which will create chances but he can be a little erratic on the doubles. I think Thornton will win this one but if betting on the match I would be wary of how his foot is and whether he will be struggling with that. I’m not sure if the 180 market is worth exploring as it could be the kind of match where some sets go 3-0 to either player.
Michael Smith v Jeffrey de Zwaan
- Smith is playing at his 5th World Championships; he lost his first 2 matches on the stage but during each of the last 2 years has reached the Last 16.
- His best World Championship match win came 2 years ago when he defeated Phil Taylor in the Last 32, last year he put out both Mensur Suljovic and Brendan Dolan. His defeats over the last 3 years at the World Champs have been against Barney, Wright and Bunting so all quality players.
- Smith had his best ever run in a TV tournament in November when he reached the semi-finals at the Grand Slam of Darts, beating Chisnall and Adrian Lewis before losing to MVG.
- He will be making his debut in this tournament, having only joined the PDC tour at the start of 2015. He did qualify for the UK Open and European Championships this year also. During his time in the BDO he reached the Last 16 of the Winmau World Masters in 2014.
- In his European Championship 1st round defeat against MVG he took the opening 2 legs, including a checkout out 156, van Gerwen did take control and won 6-3 but de Zwaan showed he won’t be phased by the big stage.
- His best run in a tour event this season was when he reached the quarter-finals of a Players Championship event in April. He also hit a 9 dart finish in a tour event this season.
This could be a tough opening round for the number 8 seed Smith, de Zwaan is a player who has potential and will only improve. Smith hasn’t always shown his best game on the TV stage but he is a quality performer who is capable of defeating anyone on the tour. A lot depends of the attitude of Smith, if he is focused and gets off to a good start he will win but if he doesn’t show up and lets his young opponent settle it could be a tough battle.
James Wade v Scheffer/Michael
- Wade is playing at his 14th consecutive World Championships (12th in the PDC). Although he lost in his first match the first two times he played in the PDC World Champs he hasn’t been beaten in the opening round since.
- Last year he lost in the Last 32 to Stephen Bunting, overall Wade has 3 semi-final and 3 quarter-final appearances in the World Championships.
- In his last 9 PDC TV ranking tournament he has only been past the Last 16 on one occasion, that was at the World Matchplay though where he did reach the final.
Wade has a good record at progressing past the first round at the World Championships having done so in each of the last 9 years, he has produced some very good TV performances this year which might not have always ended in wins but he is a serious contender to reach the final stages of this tournament. The prelim winner might cause some minor concern for Wade but I don’t anticipate an upset.