The first round of the PDC World Darts Championship continues inside the Alexandra Palace on Monday night with two of the leading players in the world getting their campaigns underway on what should be a tasty evening of tungsten tossing.
We’ve seen a number of seeds exit this tournament already and on Monday evening Daryl Gurney and Mensur Suljovic will be two big names looking to avoid going the same way. A world champion, a world finalist and a darts legend make up a good looking schedule here.
Kai Fan Leung vs Paul Lim (P)
Hong Kong Country Singapore
34 Age 63
Debut PDCWC Best Last 16
N/A Last Year DNQ
0 Head to Head 0
The opening match of proceedings on Monday evening is the preliminary match which will be of interest to Mark Webster who plays the winner later in the night. This one is an all-Asian clash between Kai Fan Leung and Paul Lim.
Darts fans will be familiar with both of these men as we saw them both in the World Cup of Darts earlier in the year where in fairness Paul Lim rolled back the years at times. You would think this one would be competitive if lacking in quality. Lim has the experience, Leung probably the fluency so it will be interesting to see how this goes but I’m a watcher rather than a player here.
Mensur Suljovic vs Kevin Painter
45 Age 50
Last 16 PDCWC Best Runner Up
Last 32 Last Year Last 32
2 Head to Head 2
Mensur Suljovic begins his first campaign as a genuine contender for the title against a man who has three times gone close to winning this thing in his career in Kevin Painter. With seeds falling everywhere both will see a big opportunity to do their ranking no harm over the next two weeks at least.
Suljovic has certainly been the biggest improver of the year and no longer is it a surprise when he plays well on the big stage. His finishing is incredible but he has added plenty of power to his scoring and more importantly he fears nobody now. Those traits could be used to describe Kevin Painter in his pomp too and while his best years may be behind him few are as competitive as he nor do they rise to the big occasion like he does.
I would expect Suljovic to have enough to come through here. How comfortably he will do so remains to be seen but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a longer than planned night of work for the Austrian. The bet I like is over 3.5 Painter 180s. You would think this will go four if not five sets so to ask someone of Painter’s class to average one 180 or less per set is insulting really. He’s better than that and I expect this line to be covered.
Daryl Gurney vs Ronny Huybrechts
31 Age 52
QF PDCWC Best Last 32
QF Last Year Last 64
1 Head to Head 1
Daryl Gurney begins his quest for a first world title when he takes on the Belgian World Cup star Ronny Huybrechts for a place in the second round of the tournament.
All eyes will be on Gurney here. Make no mistake he is a genuine contender for this title but he can still blow hot and cold as we’ve seen in recent times. He won the World Grand Prix in good style showing all of his fighting spirit and determination but then we saw the bad side of him in the Grand Slam. As a darts player not many are better right now.
Ronny Huybrechts has his work cut out in this match and I expect him to lose. The general consensus would be that he loses 3-0 but Gurney has too many concentration lapses for comfort to take that so I’ll sit out this one and assess the form of the Northern Irishman.
Mark Webster vs Kai Fan Leung/Paul Lim
3rd PDCWC Best
Last 16 Last Year
N/A Head to Head N/A
The final match of the evening is a huge one for Mark Webster who has the chance to bank another £7,500 before probably falling to Gary Anderson in the second round of the tournament. He’ll face the winner of the preliminary match.
Make no mistake there is pressure on the Welshman here but he generally has a decent record in this tournament. I don’t envisage him having too many problems in this one whoever he faces but he needs to do more than edge through if he’s to build the confidence needed to trouble Anderson.
Back K.Painter – Over 3.5 180s for a 4/10 stake at 2.35 with Bwin
Back him here: