2016 PDC Unibet Masters – Quarter-final Previews

Sunday sees the 2016 PDC Unibet Masters played to a conclusion with the quarter-finals in the afternoon and then the semi-finals and final both played in the evening session.

Here is how the draw looks.

van Gerwen vs Smith

Taylor vs Wright

van der Voort vs Chisnall

Huybrechts vs Lewis

Now onto my previews for all four matches.

Huybrechts vs Wade

Huybrechts

  • Huybrechts gave a very confident performance in his 10-4 win against Adrian Lewis. He was averaging around 101 when leading 6-3, although his average dipped to 94 by the end of the match. It was his finishing that was most impressive, taking out 3 ton plus finishes as well as 3 further checkouts in the 80s.
  • This is only his 4th appearance in a TV quarter-final (excluding World Cup) since 2012, the last time he competed in a TV quarter-final was at the Grand Slam last November when he lost to MVG, the previous time was a the Grand Slam the year before when he produced one of his best ever performances to beat MVG (Huybrechts also hit a 9 dart finish in that match).

Wade

  • Wade came through a tight tussle against Terry Jenkins in the Last 16 winning 10-8. It was a very patchy display from Wade, a couple of very good legs but he never really imposed himself on the match. Jenkins missed 11 darts at a double in the final 2 legs which proved crucial in the final outcome.
  • He lost in the quarter-finals at the Masters last year to Gary Anderson. In the 2014 tournament on his way to winning the trophy he averaged over 104 in defeating Adrian Lewis at this stage of the event.

Head to Head

Wade leads 10-4 in overall head to head wins between the two players. He had won 7 in a row up until their last meeting in October 2015 when Huybrechts won 6-4 in a Euro Tour semi-final. Wade has won both of their previous 2 encounters on the TV stage (9-5 at the 2014 UK Open and 7-2 in last year’s Premier League).

Verdict

Huybrechts was the more impressive of the two during the opening round, especially his finishing; if he were to repeat that standard on his checkouts he would take some beating. Wade can obviously play a lot better than he did against Jenkins and I would expect him to do so, the draw has opened up in this section with both Anderson and Lewis losing and Wade will see a chance to capitalise on this as he has done in the past.

I am predicting Wade to get through 10-8 in a match where the lead will change hands several times. If having a bet I would recommend over 16.5 legs.

 

van der Voort vs Chisnall

van der Voort

  • Vincent van der Voort was excellent in his win over World Champion Gary Anderson in the opening round. His average was around a 109 after 7 legs when he led 5-2 really taking the game to his opponent. Anderson rallied to level the match at 6-6 but van der Voort didn’t crumble and came on strong in the final stages to earn a deserved win.
  • He has lost in his last two TV quarter-finals; these defeats were at the Grand Prix last October and at the 2015 World Championships. In his defeat at the Grand Prix to Suljovic he won 5 out of the opening 6 legs only to lose the final 9 legs of the match.

Chisnall

  • Chisnall produced a remarkable recovery against Thornton in the opening round, trailing 8-0 he somehow managed to claw his way back into contention at 8-6, Thornton stopped the run to go ahead 9-6 but Chisnall then reeled off the final 4 legs to post a memorable victory. It wasn’t a very good performance stats wise but he showed plenty of fight and determination to stick in when things were going against him.
  • He has lost in 7 of his last 8 TV quarter-finals, 5 of those defeats have been at the hands of van Gerwen and the other 2 losses were against Phil Taylor.

Head to Head

They have only met 5 times previously with Chisnall winning the last 3 encounters to lead 3-2 on the overall head to head record. The last time they played was back in 2013 and they have only met twice since 2011. This will be the first time they have played each other on the TV stage.

Verdict

If I were to pick a winner on the basis of their performances in the opening round then van der Voort would be the favourite, he played some outstanding darts at times against Anderson, whereas Chisnall would be the first to admit he has a lot of improving to do on his overall display against Thornton. Today is a different day though, van der Voort hasn’t always backed up performances like the one he produced against Anderson with the same type of quality in his following match though he is capable of doing so. I am sure Chisnall won’t start as poorly as he did yesterday also.

I think this will be a very watchable match with both players scoring heavily, when they are in full flow they are also both good at taking out high combination checkouts so that is something to consider if having a bet.

 

Taylor vs Wright

Taylor

  • Taylor performed well in his 10-6 opening round win over Jelle Klaasen; playing with another set of new darts he set the tone with a 180 in his first set of three darts of the match. It has to be said though that Klaasen did start the match slowly and didn’t pressure Taylor in the early stages allowing Taylor to win the first 5 legs without Klaasen having a dart at a double.
  • During last season he played in 11 TV quarter-finals and won 9 of these. One of the defeats was against Peter Wright at the UK Open last March.

Wright

  • Wright came through a tough match against Ian White in the Last 16 winning 10-7. He had to come from behind twice in that match, in particular responding very well to White winning 4 legs in a row to take a 6-5 lead, Wright won 5 of the remaining 6 legs to seal his passage to the quarter-finals. All 10 of the legs Wright won during the match were won in 15 darts or less.
  • He also played in 11 TV quarter-finals during the 2015 season, winning 7 of them. Last year at the Masters he lost at this stage of the tournament 10-8 to Adrian Lewis.

Head to Head

Taylor leads their head to head win record 15-5 with them also drawing twice in the Premier League. If you break down the record over the last 13 matches Taylor has won 6, Wright has won 5 with 2 draws, so a lot closer in recent times. The last time they met was also on the TV stage, Wright won that encounter 11-9 in the semi-finals of the World Series of Darts last November with both players averaging over 104. Wright also had a notable win in the QF’s of the 2015 UK Open when he won 10-6, despite Taylor averaging 108.57.

Verdict

This should be a high quality competitive match, both players looked in good shape during their opening round wins and recent games between the two have seen some excellent darts from them both. Taylor certainly looked in a confident mood against Klaasen and more comfortable than he looked during the World Championships but he will be pushed a lot harder here. Wright has proven to himself that he has what it takes to beat Taylor on the big stage and he will also be confident he can get the job done.

It’s a hard game to predict and I think if betting on the match then backing over 16.5 legs would be the best way to go. Taylor starts as the favourite with the bookies but I think really this could go either way; I’m edging towards a Wright win 10-8 or 10-9.

 

van Gerwen vs Smith

van Gerwen

  • MVG was superb in his 10-1 win over Bunting in the Last 16 averaging 112.2; he opened with winning legs of 12, 10 and 11 darts and threatened a 9 dart finish on more than one occasion during the match.
  • He averaged 112.49 in the Masters final last year so the 112.2 opening round average was the second match in a row in this tournament where his average has been over 112.

Smith

  • It was a patchy performance from Smith in his opening round 10-7 win against van Barneveld, with neither player hitting top form the game never caught fire. Smith was in the lead for most of the match and deserved the win though.
  • Smith is through to a second consecutive TV quarter-final which is a first during his darting career. He is now aiming to reach a second TV semi-final having reached his first at the Grand Slam back in November of last year. He was beaten by MVG in that semi-final.

Head to Head

Michael van Gerwen has a 12-4 lead from their previous 16 meetings. Their most recent encounter was in the semi-finals at the Grand Slam in November of last year with MVG winning 16-6 (MVG averaged 102, Smith averaged 93. MVG hit 61.5% of doubles with Smith only hitting 27.3%). Smith has beaten van Gerwen in 2 finals on the Euro Tour, the most recent being September 2015.

Verdict

It was clear from the way van Gerwen played in his win over Bunting that he is determined to put the disappointment of the World Championships behind him and prove he is the number one. If he turns up in that mood again Smith will have his work cut out trying to stay with the ‘Green Machine’. Smith has dealt with van Gerwen over a shorter format but he will have to give one of his best performances if not his best ever on the TV stage if he is going to overturn MVG. I do expect Smith to improve from his Last 16 match but the better he plays may mean van Gerwen ups his level too. My prediction is for van Gerwen to win either 10-4 or 10-5.

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