PDC World Championship – Monday 28th December Preview

Here are my previews for the two sessions being played at the PDC World Championships today.

Monday December 28

Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)

Norris vs Murnan

Norris

  • Norris made his PDC World Championship debut in impressive style defeating World Grand Prix Champion Robert Thornton who was seeded number 6. Norris won the match 3-0, only dropping 3 legs.
  • In that 1st Round win he averaged 96.88 but more noteworthy was his checkout percentage of over 56%.
  • He does of course have the experience of going all the way to the final at the BDO World Championships in 2014. The last time he lost to an unseeded player at a World Championship was when he lost to Christian Kist who went on to win the tournament.

Murnan

  • Murnan had a real battle in the 1st Round against Andy Hamilton, eventually winning 6 legs to 4 in the final set. It wasn’t a game of high quality but Murnan did impressively win the last 3 legs of the match all with his first dart at a double.
  • A win here would take him past the Last 32 stage of a PDC TV tournament for the very first time, though he does only have limited experience of competing in them.
  • This is the first time that Murnan and Norris have met in a competitive darts match from their time in the BDO and the PDC.

Verdict

This is a great opportunity for both unseeded players to win a place in the Last 16 of the World Championship and earn valuable ranking prize money.  Both players have won a ranking tournament this season which is a great achievement as Norris only joined the tour this season and Murnan didn’t actually have a tour card. Norris showed in the 1st Round how dangerous he can be if his doubles are going in, he has good scoring power and will always create opportunities and I think he will carry that performance across to this game. Norris to win 4-2 is my prediction.

 

Jenkins vs Webster

Jenkins

  • Jenkins made hard work of his 3-1 win against Darin Young in the 1st Round, as can be the case with Jenkins, there were some legs of quality darts but also too many inconsistent darts creeping in.
  • Only 3 of his wins in PDC World Championship matches have been against players seeded inside the top 23 (Webster’s seeding is 22).

Webster

  • Webster defeated Mick McGowan 3-0 in his opening match, all 3 of the sets went to the fifth leg. Webster’s scoring wasn’t notable but his checkout percentage of 60% a big reason why he clinched the key legs.
  • Webster trails Jenkins 8-3 in their head to head meetings, he hasn’t played against Jenkins since September 2012 and his last win came back in October 2011. Jenkins also won the only 2 times they have met in PDC TV tournaments (9-7 at the 2009 UK Open and 6-4 in the 2011 European Championships).

Verdict

There wasn’t a lot to separate these two on their opening round average but Webster had a far superior checkout percentage and although stats are only on one game they may show a good indicator as to how the match will pan out. Webster has had some good results on tour and on the TV this season he looks confident in his game and getting back to the form he is capable of. Jenkins can throw in a good performance from nowhere and isn’t an easy player to write off. I just feel the combination finishing of Webster at key moments will prove the difference.

 

Pallett vs Suljovic

Pallett

  • Pallett earned his place in Round 2 with a 3-2 win over number 12 seed Kim Huybrechts, Pallett recovered from 2 sets to 1 down, winning 6 legs without reply including 132 and 122 finishes in the final 2 legs of the match.
  • His best run in a PDC ranking tournament came in September on the Euro Tour where he reached the semi-final of the European Matchplay beating Cavan, Klaasen, Norris and Kim Huybrechts.

Suljovic

  • Suljovic had one of the highest averages of the 1st Round, having averaged 99.44 in his 3-1 win against Jermaine Wattimena. He trailed 1-0 in that match and only won the second set on a deciding leg. He really raised his level in the final 2 sets dropping only 1 leg in the process.
  • This is the first time he has gone this far in the World Championships since the 2011 tournament.
  • Suljovic has only met Pallett once in a competitive tournament, that encounter came in October on the Pro Tour with Suljovic claiming a 6-1 win.

Verdict

Pallett impressed in his 1st Round win against Kim Huybrechts and he has a good mentality not to be overawed by the big occasion. Suljovic has raised his game to a new level in the TV tournaments this year and is a very hard player to beat up on that stage. I do think Suljovic will get the better of Pallett but this won’t be an easy win, I’m predicting Suljovic will win 4-2 with a number of those sets going to the fifth leg.

 

Evening Session (7.30pm-11.30pm)

Lewis vs Gilding

Lewis

  • Lewis came through his 1st Round match against Jan Dekker winning 3-0 with an average of 99.53, a checkout percentage of 50%, topped off with a final leg finish of 164.
  • He has only failed to get through to the Last 16 on 1 occasion from his 9 previous World Championship appearances, that was 7 years ago when he lost in the Last 32 4-3 to Paul Nicholson.
  • All but one of his defeats in World Championships have been against players seeded in the top 16, the solitary loss against a player not seeded in the top 16 was the defeat against Nicholson mentioned above.
  • The only time Lewis and Gilding have met on the TV stage was at the 2014 World Matchplay, Lewis won that game 10-0, averaging 110 with Gilding only having 2 double attempts in the whole match.

Gilding

  • Gilding had a comfortable 3-0 win over Gerwyn Price in Round One. On paper that should have been a very tough match for Gilding but Price didn’t play to the level he is capable of and Gilding took his chances well.
  • He has shown he can perform to a high level in TV ranking tournaments, notably at the UK Open earlier this year where he defeated Painter, Klaasen, Wade and Suljovic in consecutive matches before losing a close match 10-8 to MVG in the semi-finals and averaging 108 over those 18 legs.
  • Gilding did beat Lewis the last time they played, this was 6-2 in a UK Open Qualifier back in February.

Verdict

Adrian Lewis looked good in his 1st Round win against Dekker; he has an excellent record on the World Championship stage and has the game to go all the way. The last time they met on TV in 2014 Lewis completely dominated Gilding winning 10-0. Gilding is more comfortable on the TV stage now so I wouldn’t expect such a whitewash. Gilding has beaten most of the top players away from the TV screens and if his game clicks he can be a tough nut to crack. I think Lewis will be very much focused on getting the job done here and take control from the start. I’m predicting a 4-1 or 4-2 win for Lewis.

 

Wright vs Huybrechts

Wright

  • Wright only dropped 2 legs in his 3-0 1st Round win over Keegan Brown. The 95.91 extended his run of not having averaged fewer than 95 in his last 12 World Championship matches.
  • He has only been beaten by an unseeded player once at the World Championships; this was against Jelle Klaasen 4 years ago. As mentioned in my preview of Wright’s 1st Round game, all his 8 World Championship defeats have been against a player who has won or has gone on to win a World Championship.

Ronny Huybrechts

  • Huybrechts overcame Dean Winstanley in Round One, it was a match that went all the way into extra legs in the fifth set, Huybrechts eventually winning 6-4 in that deciding set with Huybrechts taking out 3 ton plus checkouts in the final 4 legs.
  • This is a repeat of their meeting at the same stage at last year’s Worlds. Wright won 4 sets to 1 on that occasion, which was also the last time they faced each other. Wright leads 4-2 overall in their head to head meetings having won their last 3 encounters.

Verdict

Number 4 seed Peter Wright has become accomplished at getting through to the later rounds of TV ranking tournaments, only once in the last 2 and a half years has he been beaten by a player outside the current top 32 in a TV ranking tournament. Ronny Huybrechts has had some good wins on TV including one against Phil Taylor but he hasn’t been playing his best darts this season and I don’t think he is playing well enough to trouble Wright. This could be a repeat of Wright’s 4-1 win at this stage of the tournament last year.

 

Taylor vs Painter

Taylor

  • Taylor dropped just 2 legs in his 3-0 opening round win against Ono. Although he averaged 89 for the first set he had upped this to over 98 by the end of the match (averaging 110 for the last 5 legs).
  • He has been beaten at this stage of the tournament in 2 of the last 4 years (the other 2 years he went all the way to the final).
  • Taylor has a huge lead of 30 wins to 1 in their head to head meetings; this includes 4 wins at the World Championships, the most famous of these in the 2004 final when Painter pushed Taylor to the deciding set. The last time Painter defeated Taylor was in 2001 at the World Grand Prix.

Painter

  • Painter had a comfortable 3-0 win over Kim Viljanen in the 1st Round, it was a confident performance from Painter but his opposition did offer limited resistance.
  • He had a run of getting to the World Championships quarter-finals in 7 out of 9 years from 2000 to 2008 but since then the Last 16 has been his best showing.
  • Since losing 7-6 to Taylor in the World Final back in 2004 he has played Taylor 3 times at the World Championships losing 5-1, 5-1 and 4-1.

Verdict

Taylor switched the weight of his darts significantly before the tournament and there were comments that he struggled in the first round, he did take a while to get going but averaging 110 over the last 5 legs with two ton plus checkouts is very good form. Painter’s record against Taylor isn’t good at all, and he comes into the tournament on the back of a below par season, if Taylor does struggle to get going at the start of the match and Painter can take his chances he may have a chance but I don’t anticipate an upset.

 

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