Darts – PDC World Championship Match Previews (Days 1 and 2)

Hi folks, I have been putting some match previews together for the PDC World Championships so thought I would blog them.

Here are the previews for the matches being played on the opening two sessions. If anyone is interested I will post more throughout the tournament. Maybe adding some stats as the rounds progress.

Thursday December 18
7.10pm John Part (30) v Keegan Brown

A tough draw for former 3 time World Champion Part, who comes into the tournament on the back of an uninspiring season that has seen him feature more on the TV screens as a pundit than a darts player. Part’s best performances on tour have been two quarter-final appearances in European Tour events.

Keegan Brown won the PDC Under-21 World Championship back in May and caught the public’s attention with his performances at the Grand Slam where he beat Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld before bowing out against Dave Chisnall 16-14 in a match he should have won. Brown has also beaten other players in the top 10 this season including Phil Taylor. The head to head favours Brown, with him defeating Part on two occasions this season.

Verdict: On current form it is difficult to see Part getting the better of Brown and I expect Brown to progress by 3 sets to 1.

8.15pm Christian Perez v Cristo Reyes (P)

This will be the third time Perez from the Philippines has competed in the PDC World Championships, having won his prelim match on both previous occasions, notably beating the steady Danish player Per Laursen 4-3 in the 2010 event before taking a set off Robert Thornton in a 3-1 defeat. Perez has played most of his darts on the soft tip circuit having lost in the Soft Tip Dartslive Grand Final in 2013.

Spaniard Reyes qualified through the Iberian qualifying event beating former World Championship qualifiers Carlos Rodriguez and Julio Barbero on his way to a 6-0 win over Jose Rodriguez in the final. Not a lot is really known of the ability of Reyes but the Spanish qualifiers have usually put in decent enough performances to suggest he will be competitive.

Verdict: Due to the extra experience and knowledge of Perez past World Championship appearances I lean towards a Perez win by 4-2 or 4-3.
9.00pm Jelle Klaasen (29) v Christian Kist
Arguably the most exciting match up of the first round with two Dutch former BDO World Champions facing off. Klaasen has recently broken back into the top 32 and is probably a better overall player now than he was when he won his world title. The highlights of Klaasen’s season have been his performances in the last two TV ranking events in which he has recorded wins over Adrian Lewis and James Wade (108.74 average in his win against Wade). Consistency though is still a problem for Klassen.

Kist has made an excellent impression since moving over to the PDC at the start of the year, qualifying for 3 of the TV ranking tournaments including reaching the last 16 at the UK Open. One semi-final and three quarter-finals on the tour have played a big part in him rising quickly up the ranking.  Very solid in and around the treble 20, Kist has the ability to match some of the heavy scorers.

Verdict: A very hard game to call and a lot depends on which Jelle Klaasen shows up. The consistency of Kist makes me edge towards him but this match could easily go 3-2 either way.

10.00pm Michael van Gerwen (1) v Joe Cullen

Reigning World Champion van Gerwen starts his defence of the trophy on the opening night, van Gerwen is probably not seen as showing the dominant form he had coming into last years event but he has still had a very successful season winning the World Grand Prix and European Championship, not to mention the World Cup with van Barneveld, along with 5 other pro tour ranking event titles. His defeats this year in ranking TV tournaments have come at the hands of Terry Jenkins (twice) and in the World Matchplay final against Phil Taylor.

Joe Cullen is making his fifth consecutive appearance at the PDC World Championships and in his previous four attempts he has not gone past the first round, also failing to win a set in his last three visits. This season has seen him slip down the rankings a little after previously pushing towards the top 32; his best results this season have been two semi-finals in pro tour events, most recently in October where he won 6-4 against van Gerwen on his way to the semis.

Verdict: Although Cullen has had some success against van Gerwen previously (7-4 to MVG on the head to head) 3 of those wins came over 3 years ago when van Gerwen was not at this standard. Cullen might come close in a couple of sets but I see MVG winning this one 3-0.

11.00pm Wes Newton (13) v Christian Perez/Cristo Reyes

Newton has not enjoyed the best of seasons though he did show some positive signs in the recent Players Championship finals where he reached the semi-final before losing to Adrian Lewis. A quarter-final placing at the World Matchplay earlier in the year is a bit more deceiving as Newton struggled through to that stage scraping through ugly games against Baxter and Nicholson. He has reached the quarter-final at the World Championship on three occasions narrowly losing 5-4 in each of these matches.

Verdict: Difficult to assess with not knowing who Newton will be playing, sometimes the qualifiers can settle into the game having already played a match on stage earlier in the evening and this might see either Perez or Reyes taking a set from Newton though I still expect Newton to progress by a 3-1 scoreline.

DAY TWO

Friday December 19
7.10pm Andy Hamilton (12) v Dave Richardson

2012 World Championship finalist Hamilton ended his long drought without a ranking tournament title by winning the opening UK Open qualifier back in February, but his performance in TV ranking tournaments has been below the levels of previous years, reaching the last 16 of the World Matchplay has been his best showing on the TV stage.

Canadian Richardson qualified by winning the PDC North American Qualifying Event, defeating Ken MacNeil and Shaun Narain in the final two rounds, although relatively unknown he isn’t likely to be a pushover a lot will depends on how he settles on the big stage.

Verdict: Hamilton has not been showing the consistency of recent years but still brings plenty of experience of the World Championships and should have the capability to ensure he progresses. I wouldn’t rule out Richardson giving him a tough ride at times and possibly taking a set. Hamilton 3-1 is my pick.

8.15pm Kim Viljanen v Sascha Stein (P)

Viljanen from Finland has played most of his darts on the SDC (Scandinavian) circuit this year, winning an event and reaching four semi-finals he finished 3rd on the order of merit behind Haavisto and Komula. Prior to this he has competed in some BDO events over the years including the World Masters on a handful of occasions.

Sascha Stein qualified through the German qualifying event, losing in the final match 10-8 to Max Hopp after beating previous WC qualifier Andree Welge in the semi-final. Stein has mostly competed in soft tip darts over the years and this is his first major steel tip tournament.

Verdict: I can see this match being a very close encounter; neither has played at the World Championships before so both will feel some nerves. Sitting on the fence I predict a 4-3 win either way.

9.00pm Peter Wright (5) v Gerwyn Price   

Peter Wright returns to the stage in which he had great success last year in reaching the final, a result which saw him rocket up the rankings and earn a Premier League spot. Wright has won a couple of tour events this season, though his results in TV ranking events have not been overly impressive with a quarter-final appearance at the European Championship been his best showing.

Welshman Price who is also a rugby player is competing in his first season on the PDC having earned his tour card at the first attempt in January. Price has had a reasonable season having reached a semi-final and two quarter-finals in pro tour events, as well as recording wins against Gary Anderson and James Wade.

Verdict: Wright could be inspired by his great memories of the Alexandra Palace stage having gone all the way to the final last year whilst this is the first big stage appearance for Price. Although Price could give Wright some problems and I think he might take a set it will be Wright who progresses 3-1.

10.00pm Phil Taylor (2) v Jyhan Artut

After a shaky start to the year Taylor has since shown he is still potentially the man to beat. His season highlights being winning both the World Matchplay and the Grand Slam with some dominant performances. Although he has been beaten by Wade (twice), Bunting and Anderson in TV events it has taken some inspired darts by those players to beat him.

Artut is no stranger to the World Championships having competed in them three times previously, most recently running Gary Anderson very close three years ago just losing out 3-2 in the first round. Artut competes regularly on the pro tour and is used to playing the top players but hasn’t had too many wins against top 16 players recently.

Verdict: Taylor has shown too much good form on TV in recent events to suggest to me he will struggle in this match, the biggest danger may be opening round nerves which still affect the biggest names though I think Taylor will win 3-0 with a 100+ average.

11.00pm Stuart Kellett (32) v Kim Viljanen/Sascha Stein
Kellett broke into the top 32 at the start of the year but his results this year have seen his rise up the rankings stall with one quarter-final appearance on the pro tour and also failing to qualify for the major TV events barring the UK Open and of course this tournament. Kellett has failed to win a set in his two previous PDC World Championship appearances having lost 3-0 to van der Voort and Nicholson.

Verdict: This could be a very tricky game for Kellett, due to his uninspiring season he doesn’t come into the tournament with any great momentum. His opponent will have already played on the stage earlier in the evening and it will be worth seeing how they perform before judging this game.

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Grand Slam of Darts Preview (Previous Form)

The Grand Slam of Darts is one of my favourite tounaments so I have decided to bring back a bit of blogging.

Below I have listed the entrants and their previous form in the event. Any feedback is always welcome.

GROUP A

Phil Taylor (1) – Won the event 4 times from 6 attempts.

Kevin Painter – Reached the QF’s in 3 out of the 4 times he has competed.

Paul Nicholson – Only qualified from the Group Stages once from four attempts.

Stuart Kellett – First time he has competed at the event.

GROUP B

James Wade (8) – Only gone past the Last 16 once in six attempts (though did reach the final).

Gary Anderson – Progressed from the Group Stages in all 6 attempts. Reached one final, two semis and one quarter.

Wesley Harms – Reached the Last 16 last year in his first attempt before being beaten by van Barneveld.

Peter Wright – First time he has competed at the event.

GROUP C

Adrian Lewis (5) – Failed to progress from the Group Stage in 4 out of 6 attempts (finishing bottom of group twice).

Christian Kist – Reached the QF last year in his first attempt before being beaten by van Barneveld.

Ronny Huybrechts – First time he has competed at the event.

Richie George – First time he has competed at the event.

GROUP D

Michael van Gerwen (4) – After three attempts where he didn’t progress from the Group Stage he has topped his group the last two years and reached the final last year.

Kim Huybrechts – First time he has competed at the event.

Dean Winstanley – Topped his group both times and reached the semi-final last year.

Vincent van der Voort – Never progressed past the Group Stage in 5 previous attempts.

GROUP E

Raymond van Barneveld (2) – Reigning champion. Has failed to get out of his group only once from six attempts.

Mervyn King – Has only once failed to get past the Group Stage. Finished top of his group 4 times out of 6.

Tony O’Shea – Won his group in his first two attempts but failed to get past Group Stage in past two years.

Ricky Evans – First time he has competed at the event.

GROUP F

Andy Hamilton (7) – Has reached one final and one semi-final from his four previous attempts.

Robert Thornton – Progressed from his group all four previous times he has participated but only reached the QF once.

Mark Walsh – Reached the SF on his first visit two years ago but failed to qualify for L16 last year.

Justin Pipe – Failed to progress from his group in his two previous attempts.

GROUP G

Simon Whitlock (6) – Reached the QF on his first two attempts when he topped his group. Has failed to qualify for L16 the last two times he has competed.

Wes Newton – Progressed from his group two years in a row after failing to do so in his previous two attempts.

Mark Webster – Competed in all 6 years the Grand Slam has run. He has reached two QF but also failed to get past Group Stage 3 times.

Ross Smith – First time he has competed at the event.

GROUP H

Scott Waites (3) – Previous winner and also runner-up. He has failed to progress past the Group Stage twice though.

Dave Chisnall – Never progressed past the Group Stage in his two previous attempts.

Michael Smith – First time he has competed at the event.

Ted Hankey – Reached the QF once, but has failed to progress from his group twice from four attempts.

Random Premier League Darts Stats (Pre-week 9)

Most scores of 100-139                 131 (Wade)

Fewest scores of 100-139              89 (Hamilton)

Most scores of 140-177                 73 (van Barneveld)

Fewest scores of 140-177              48 (Wade)

Most 180’s                                     31 (van Gerwen, van Barneveld, Thornton)

Fewest 180’s                                 16 (Taylor)

 

Highest 3 dart ave                          100.31 (van Gerwen)

Lowest 3 dart ave                           91.26 (Lewis)

 

Most darts at a double                  135 (Anderson)

Fewest darts at a double              96 (Whitlock)

 

Highest checkout %                        49% (Wade)

Lowest checkout %                         28% (Anderson)

 

Most ton plus finishes                        10 (Wade)

Fewest ton plus finishes                    3 (Lewis)

Most legs won                                   48 (Wade, Van Gerwen, Taylor)

Fewest legs won                             36 (Whitlock)

Fewest legs conceded                   36 (Van Gerwen, Taylor)

Most legs conceded                       51 (Anderson)

 

Highest 3 dart match averages:

109.33 (Thornton)

107.65 (Thornton)

107.33 (Taylor)

107.22 (van Gerwen)

105.73 (Wade)

 

Lowest 3 dart match averages:

84.18 (Lewis)

85.66 (Newton)

86.59 (Newton)

87.32 (Wade)

87.53 (Newton)

 

Range of match averages:

80-84.99                               1             

85-89.99                               9

90-94.99                               19

95-99.99                               31

100-104.99                          15

105+                                      5

 

Range of match scores:

7-0                                          0

7-1                                          3

7-2                                          5

7-3                                          7             

7-4                                          10

7-5                                          8

6-6                                          7

Premier League Week 8 Pre-game stats

Some useful stats I have put together (might help you if you are having a wager)

Adrian Lewis v Andy Hamilton

Form Guide:

Adrian Lewis  (L, W, D, W)

In the last three weeks Lewis has recorded wins against arguably the most inform players in the PDC at the moment in van Gerwen  & Thornton

Andy Hamilton (L, L, W, W)

Wins against Taylor & Whitlock in the last 2 weeks. His two defeats prior to that were against van Gerwen & van Barneveld.

Averages

Lewis has only averaged above 95 twice in the 7 weeks so far, his highest average being 97.70.

Hamilton has averaged over 100 twice in the last 3 weeks.

Checkouts

Lewis has only hit two checkout scores of more than 100 (his highest was last week a 155).

Hamilton has hit three checkouts of more than 100 though has had the highest checkout in 5 of his 7 matches so far.

180’s

Lewis has hit an average of 3 180’s per game over his last 4 matches.

Hamilton has had the most 180’s (30) against him of any player in the league.  This is just over 4 per game on average.

       

Simon Whitlock v Robert Thornton

Form Guide:

Simon Whitlock (L, W, W, L)

Two wins from his last three games, this followed on from a run of three defeats in a row.

Robert Thornton (W, L, D, L)

Thornton was unbeaten for the first four weeks of the season but is now without a win in his last three matches.

Averages

After averaging just over 88 for his first two matches, Whitlock has averaged 97.37 over the past five weeks.

Thornton has only twice averaged under 97.50 over the seven weeks so far.

Checkouts

Whitlock has the most ton plus finishes in the league (8).

Thornton has hit checkouts of more than 100 in five out of the seven weeks.

180’s

In his last five matches none of Whitlocks opponents have outscored him on 180’s.

Thornton has scored 4 or more 180’s in five out of the seven weeks.

 

Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld

Form Guide:

Phil Taylor (D, L, L, W)

After three matches without a win, Taylor got back to winning ways against Newton last week.

Raymond van Barneveld (W, W, D, D)

Unbeaten in his last four matches, his only defeat in 2013 PL was against van Gerwen who averaged 104.21.

Averages

Taylor has hit averages of more than 100 in three of the weeks so far and has the highest combined three dart average in the league.

The last two weeks have seen RVB record two out of his three lowest averages so far (95.08 & 96.02)

Checkouts

Taylor has hit checkouts of 100 or more in five out of the seven weeks in the PL so far.

Barnevelds highest checkout in the last two weeks has been 40.

180’s

Taylor has hit the fewest 180’s in the league, having only hit more than 2 on one occasion.

Barneveld has hit 17 180’s over the last four weeks which is an average of 4.25 per match.

 

Gary Anderson v Wes Newton

Form Guide:

Gary Anderson (L, W, D, L)

Anderson has a win against Phil Taylor to his name but he has also suffered 7-2 and 7-1 defeats over the last four weeks.

Wes Newton (W, L, L, L)

Newton last two matches have been defeats against Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen.

Averages

Andersons highest average so far (96.82) came in last weeks 7-1 defeat to Michael van Gerwen.

Newton has only averaged above 95 in two matches so far and they were both defeats (against Whitlock & MVG).

Checkouts

Anderson has the lowest checkout % in the Premier League with 30% hit.

Newton has hit 50% or more attempts at a double in four out of his last five matches.

180’s

Anderson is averaging a 180 every 4 legs during the tournament.

Newton has hit 3 or more 180’s in all but one of his seven matches so far.

 

Michael van Gerwen v James Wade

Form Guide:

Michael van Gerwen (W, L, W, W)

After drawing his first two matches van Gerwen has now won four out of his next five.

James Wade (D, W, L, D)

Wades last four matches have only produced one win but he has drawn against both Taylor and van Barneveld during this time.

Averages

Van Gerwen has recorded averages of more than 100 in his last two matches and only once has he averaged under 95.50.

After averaging 87.32 and 91.54 for his first two games, Wades average over the last five weeks is 100.35.

Checkouts

In the 2013 Premier League so far Van Gerwen has had the most checkout attempts.

Wade has hit 7 ton plus finishes in the last three weeks and has the highest checkout % in the Premier League.

180’s

MVG has the best 180 per leg ratio in the Premier League with a 180 every 2.70 legs on average.

Wade has had the fewest 180’s scored against him with only 16 in the seven matches he has played.

 

Player performance stats in Prem League so far…

Some facts and figures from the 10 players performances in the Premier League so far.

 

Adrian Lewis

3 dart ave for                                     –              91.63

3 dart ave against                             –              93.92

Checkout % for                                 –              33%

Checkout % against                         –              42%

180’s for                                               –              20          

180’s against                                      –              21

Legs won in 15 darts or less         –              19 from 33

Legs against in 15 darts of less    –              23 from 43

 

Andy Hamilton

3 dart ave for                                     –              96.47

3 dart ave against                             –              95.15

Checkout % for                                  –              40%

Checkout % against                         –              36%

180’s for                                               –              19          

180’s against                                      –              30

Legs won in 15 darts or less         –              27 from 40

Legs against in 15 darts of less    –              24 from 37

     

Gary Anderson

3 dart ave for                                     –              94.88

3 dart ave against                             –              99.43

Checkout % for                                   –              30%

Checkout % against                         –              39%

180’s for                                               –              19          

180’s against                                      –              21

Legs won in 15 darts or less         –              19 from 32

Legs against in 15 darts of less    –              30 from 44

 

James Wade

3 dart ave for                                     –              97.24

3 dart ave against                             –              95.63

Checkout % for                                  –              48%

Checkout % against                         –              35%

180’s for                                               –              17          

180’s against                                      –              16

Legs won in 15 darts or less         –              33 from 41

Legs against in 15 darts of less    –              20 from 35

 

Michael van Gerwen

3 dart ave for                                     –              99.76

3 dart ave against                             –              96.70

Checkout % for                                  –              39%

Checkout % against                         –              35%

180’s for                                               –              27          

180’s against                                      –              24

Legs won in 15 darts or less         –              33 from 41

Legs against in 15 darts of less    –              20 from 35

 

Phil Taylor

3 dart ave for                                     –              99.82

3 dart ave against                             –              97.31

Checkout % for                               –              42%

Checkout % against                         –              42%

180’s for                                               –              14          

180’s against                                      –              23

Legs won in 15 darts or less         –              30 from 41

Legs against in 15 darts of less    –              25 from 33

 

Raymond van Barneveld

3 dart ave for                                     –              98.72

3 dart ave against                             –              97.66

Checkout % for                                    –              39%

Checkout % against                         –              37%

180’s for                                               –              27          

180’s against                                      –              21

Legs won in 15 darts or less         –              30 from 43

Legs against in 15 darts of less    –              27 from 33

 

Robert Thornton

3 dart ave for                                     –              98.66

3 dart ave against                             –              96.32

Checkout % for                                    –              42%

Checkout % against                         –              46%

180’s for                                               –              27          

180’s against                                      –              18

Legs won in 15 darts or less         –              28 from 38

Legs against in 15 darts of less    –              28 from 39

 

Simon Whitlock

3 dart ave for                                     –              94.92

3 dart ave against                             –              97.20

Checkout % for                                  –              38%

Checkout % against                         –              34%

180’s for                                               –              20          

180’s against                                      –              18

Legs won in 15 darts or less         –              20 from 35

Legs against in 15 darts of less    –              29 from 40

 

Wes Newton

3 dart ave for                                     –              92.50

3 dart ave against                             –              95.28

Checkout % for                                      –              36%

Checkout % against                         –              41%

180’s for                                               –              20          

180’s against                                      –              18

Legs won in 15 darts or less         –              19 from 30

Legs against in 15 darts of less    –              25 from 44

FOUR IN FORM

FOUR IN FORM

Although the PDC Premier League of Darts dominates the Darting media around this time of year, there are of course other events in the PDC that have been taking place in which players have been picking up valuable prize money.

Five PDC tour ranking events have taken place so far this current darting year and I will try and pick out my four form players from across these events.  (The four are in no particular order).

Michael van Gerwen  (Tournament record W, W, L16, W, SF)

Matches Played                33

Matches Won                    31

It will come as no surprise that van Gerwen features in this list having won the first three UK Open events this season and looking well on course to make it a clean sweep until he was knocked out in the S/F last Sunday by Rob Thornton.

To win 31 out of 33 matches is a tremendous feat, all of these over a short format of first to 6. The man is playing with a huge confidence and will surely be adding many more tournament wins to his record this year.

 

John Part (Tournament record L32, L16, W, QF, L16)

Matches Played                31

Matches Won                    27

John has plenty of calibre but hasn’t really been producing his consistent form for quite a while. He has really knuckled down this year though, and is showing what a danger he can be in every tournament he enters.

The highlight has to be his win in the UK Masters event at Minehead when he walked away with the £20k first prize. Part already had to play qualifying matches to actually get into the event so an even greater achievement in winning the competition. John followed this up by strong showings in the two UK Open events last weekend as well as winning three matches to qualify for the next European tour event.

 

Robert Thornton (Tournament record QF, L32, QF, SF, W)

Matches Played                28

Matches Won                    24

Rob has been showing his class in the Premier League with some very impressive performances in his debut season, but away from the TV he has been doing some serious damage in the other tour events having reached the Quarters or better in four out of the five events so far.

Last weekend was extremely profitable for ‘The Thorn’ having won on the Sunday in Wigan he defeated three of the form players John Part, Peter Wright and MVG in consecutive games.

Thornton will be looking to add to his major trophy haul this season and I wouldn’t be surprised if he retains his UK Open title.

 

Peter Wright (Tournament record L16, SF, L64, SF, QF)

Matches Played                 26

Matches Won                    21

This has been a consistent start to the season by Wright, reaching two Semis and one Quarter in his five events. In all of the events the player who has beaten Wright has gone on to reach the final (MVGx3, Kellett & Thornton)and in the case of MVG and Thornton they went on to win the events.

I believe Wright is a player to watch this season, he impressed me in the latter part of last year and I think has the game to get a place in the top 20 and maybe top 16.