2017 William Hill World Championship – Day One Preview
The waiting is almost over!
The 2017 William Hill World Darts Championship starts on Thursday evening and the opening night is headlined by the defending champion Gary Anderson who begins his quest to win the title for the 3rd year in a row.
This is the 24th staging of the PDC World Championship and this year the total prize money is a whopping £1.65 million with £350,000 going to the winner.
The world number one Michael van Gerwen is a strong favourite for the tournament with the bookies and the fact he has won 25 tournaments this year alone speaks for itself. The second favourite is Gary Anderson, who as mentioned above is seeking his 3rd consecutive world title, winning back to back world titles is no easy feat and on his day he is more than capable of going all the way again. The top two seeds face very strong competition from Phil Taylor, Peter Wright, Adrian Lewis, James Wade, Raymond van Barneveld and Dave Chisnall who all possess plenty of quality.
As usual I’ll be producing stats based previews on all the matches throughout the tournament to hopefully compliment your darting viewing.
Here are my previews for the matches on the opening night.
Thursday December 15 (7pm)
Jamie Caven (29) v Kevin Painter
- Jamie Caven has qualified for the PDC World Championship for the 10th consecutive year, he reached the Last 16 at the 2016 World Championship which was his best ever run in the tournament.
- Caven has won each of his last 3 first round matches at PDC World Championship tournaments. His last defeat at this stage of the tournament came in December 2012 against John Bowles.
- He has won 5 and lost 4 in best of 5 set matches at PDC World Championship tournaments. 3 of those 4 defeats were in matches that went to a deciding set.
- Caven comes into the World Championship having lost his last 8 matches in PDC tournaments, his best performance in a ranking event during 2016 was a run to the final in a Players Championship tournament in May.
- 2004 PDC World Championship runner-up Kevin Painter will be competing at the PDC World Championship for the 16th time; overall this will be his 23rd World Championship tournament having also featured 7 times at the BDO World Championship.
- This is the first time Painter hasn’t been a seeded player at a World Championship since his first PDC World Championship appearance in 2002.
- He has been defeated in the opening round in only 3 of the 15 PDC World Championship tournaments he has qualified for, and hasn’t failed to get through the first round in his last 5 attempts. The last player to defeat Painter in the opening round was Brendan Dolan in December 2010.
- Painter’s record in best of 5 set matches in PDC World Championship tournaments is: Played 11 Won 9 Lost 2. Only 1 of those 11 best of 5 set matches has gone to a deciding set.
- Painter has yet to reach a ranking quarter-final in 2016; the last time he reached the last eight in a ranking tournament was back in October 2015.
Head to Head (Jamie Caven leads 7-4)
Jamie Caven has the edge in their previous head to head matches having won 7 of their 11 meetings since they first faced each other in 2009. They have met twice during 2016 and have won one match each, Painter won 6-5 at the Dutch Darts Masters in February whilst Caven triumphed 6-4 in a Players Championship tournament in April.
Jamie Lewis (30) v Mick McGowan
- Jamie Lewis is appearing in his 5th PDC World Championship tournament and has yet to register a win, having lost in the first round in each of the last 3 years and in a prelim match on his debut in the 2013 World Championship.
- This is the second year in a row that Lewis has been seeded at the PDC World Championship, last year he was the 31st seed and lost on the opening night to Daryl Gurney.
- Lewis has hit a total of 3 180s in each of his 3 first round matches at the PDC World Championship.
- The best run Jamie Lewis has had in a PDC tournament this year was a semi-final appearance in a UK Open qualifier back in February.
- Mick McGowan won the Tom Kirby Memorial Trophy to earn his spot in this tournament, he is playing in his 4th PDC World Championship having made his debut back at the 2007 World Championship where he notably averaged over 101 in a 2nd round defeat against Phil Taylor.
- Last year he returned to the World Championship for the first time since 2008, in last year’s tournament he won a prelim match against Qiang Sun before losing 3-0 to Mark Webster in round one.
- McGowan has won a match in each of his 3 previous World Championship appearances (though as mentioned above his win last year was in the prelim round).
- McGowan’s best performance on the PDC circuit in 2016 so far was when he reached the semi-finals of a Players Championship tournament in September.
Head to Head
This is their first competitive meeting.
Gary Anderson (2) v Mark Frost
- The back to back 2015 and 2016 William Hill World Championship winner Gary Anderson will be competing at his 8th PDC World Championship (his 16th consecutive World Championship including his time in the BDO).
- Anderson has won 12 consecutive World Championship matches stretching back to his 4-3 defeat against van Gerwen in the Last 16 at the 2014 World Championship.
- A quirky stat is that Anderson’s winning set in last year’s final against Adrian Lewis was the 180th set he has played in PDC World Championship tournaments since he made his debut back in December 2009 against Jamie Caven.
- Gary Anderson has never lost to an unseeded player at the PDC World Championship.
- Anderson has won all 7 of his previous first round matches at the PDC World Championship.
- It has been 6 years since Anderson averaged over 100 in a first round World Championship match (the last time was in against Hashimoto in the 2011 tournament when Anderson averaged 103.26).
- Anderson has never lost a PDC World Championship best of 5 set match: Played 7 Won 7, Sets Won/Lost W21 L6.
- Mark Frost is making his World Championship debut at this year’s tournament; he earned his spot by winning 7 matches in the PDC qualifying tournament.
- He has previously qualified for the UK Open finals on a number of occasions and also qualified for the World Matchplay back in 2008 where he was narrowly defeated 11-9 by Raymond van Barneveld in round one.
- In October at the penultimate Players Championship tournament of the season he reached the semi-finals, it was his best performance in a PDC ranking event since 2008. His run to the semi-finals of that tournament included wins over top 16 players Jelle Klaasen and Kim Huybrechts.
Head to Head
This is their first competitive meeting.
Michael Smith (11) v Ricky Evans
- This is Smith’s 6th consecutive PDC World Championship appearance. Having failed to win a set on his first two visits he has now made it through the first round three times in a row.
- Smith hasn’t failed to reach the Last 16 here in each of the last 3 years and last year he had his best ever run in the tournament when he reached the quarter-finals before losing in a deciding set to Raymond van Barneveld.
- Ricky Evans will be the first Englishman that Smith has met in the first round at the PDC World Championship; Smith’s previous opponents have been from Netherlands (x3), Austria and Japan.
- Smith has scored a combined total of 15 180s during his last 2 PDC World Championship 1st round matches.
- Michael Smith has lost each of his last 10 matches in PDC tournaments stretching back to September. His best tournament performance this season was an appearance in the final of the Austrian Darts Open in June where he was eventually beaten by Phil Taylor.
- Smith has managed just 1 win from his last 13 TV matches, that solitary win came against Simon Whitlock at the World Matchplay.
- Ricky Evans is returning to the PDC World Championship for the 3rd time and has managed to progress through the first round on each of his two previous appearances.
- Last year he defeated the number 10 seed Simon Whitlock in round one before losing to Jamie Caven, at the 2014 tournament he defeated Ronnie Baxter and lost out to Mervyn King in round two.
- In his match against Whitlock last year he trailed by 2-0 in sets and was 2-0 down in the 3rd set before he managed to somehow turn it around, Evans eventually won 6-4 in the deciding set where he hit a 130 finish to win the match.
- Evans has lost each of his last 7 matches in PDC competitions.
- His best performance in 2016 on the PDC circuit was in September when he reached the semi-finals at a Players Championship tournament, it was his first ranking semi-final since 2013.
Head to Head (Michael Smith leads 6-0)
All 6 of the previous matches between Michael Smith and Ricky Evans have gone the way of Michael Smith, though this is their first encounter since February 2014. Their most high profile meeting was in the final of the PDC World Youth Championship in 2013 when Smith won 6-1.
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