PDC World Darts Championship 2024 – Day 1 Tips and Betting Preview

The opening night of the PDC World Championship takes place inside Alexandra Palace on Friday as the biggest tournament of the year gets underway in what is sure to be a party atmosphere to get the Christmas period up and running.

As is now traditionally the case, the defending champion Michael Smith headlines the opening night of the competition but he’ll have to wait to find out who he faces. Before then, a former finalist and a couple of future stars will be on show.

Kevin Doets vs Stowe Buntz

The opening match of the 2024 PDC World Championship is a bit of a galactic affair as the continent of Europe is represented by the Dutch player Kevin Doets. He meets the American qualifier Stowe Buntz who will be looking to follow up his excellent run at the Grand Slam of Darts.

Both men are on debut in this tournament so it will be interesting to see who settles first but Doets has played the two TV events which tour card holders get into. He made the fifth round of the UK Open and the second round in the Players Championship Finals. Buntz reached the quarter final of the Grand Slam of Darts where he took care of Peter Wright and Stephen Bunting in the group stage before beating Andrew Gilding in the last 16. Doets averages over 90 for the season and hits a fair amount of 180s so if he settles well on this stage then I think he has the better of a man who I’m not convinced did anything but take advantage of the format and a couple of out of form opponents at the Grand Slam. 4/5 is probably not much more than a fair price though so I’ll sit the opener out but might include Doets in some multiples.

Cameron Menzies vs Rusty-Jake Rodriguez

The second match of the night sees the former Lakeside semi-finalist Cameron Menzies looking to make it through to the second round of the tournament when he takes on Rusty-Jake Rodriguez, who will be looking to replicate the form he showed at the PDPA qualifier where he averaged 106 in winning his final match.

Menzies is a solid campaigner but he can be very erratic on the doubles and if he has a poor night on them then he would certainly be vulnerable and potentially left watching on when his girlfriend Fallon Sherrock enters the event later in the week. Rodriguez has been here before and went fairly well. He won his opening match before taking Chris Dobey to a decider, hitting six 180s in both matches. This feels like a crackerjack of a match and if the Rodriguez that was here two years ago turns up I think he has every chance. The fact he had to go through that final qualifier tells us he didn’t have the best year on the circuit but to perform so well in the last chance saloon suggests he has plenty about him. I did like Menzies in this match but then he posted on social media on Friday morning that he was still doing his day job ahead of the contest. RJR is drifting to a tempting price but I’m not quite tempted enough.

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Simon Whitlock vs Paolo Nebrida

The last of the first round matches on the opening night of the tournament sees a man who has been all the way to the final of this event in the past in Simon Whitlock, going up against the Philippines qualifier Paolo Nebrida.

Nebrida was in this tournament last year where he took Danny Jansen the distance with some good scoring. It has to be said his finishing left plenty to be desired but having tasted the environment and gone back home and qualified once again via a very competitive Asian Tour these days tells us that he should come back a better player than we saw a year ago. This match will still be all about Whitlock. I don’t think it is pushing it to suggest if he loses in the first round here this could be the last time we see him on this stage. I don’t think he will lose and I think he would have put in a bunch of work to ensure he is as good as he can be in this event. Practicing has never been his problem but missed doubles have been in recent times. If he hits his doubles he’ll be fine here but I’m not going to take that chance. The bet I do like is for Whitlock to cover 3.5 180s. If Nebrida can win a set then we would need an average of one 180 per set from Whitlock here but even if he doesn’t we’re going to get around a dozen legs and the Australian is usually good for one every three legs or so on the big stage. I like over 3.5 Whitlock 180s here.

Michael Smith vs Kevin Doets/Stowe Buntz

The second round also begins on the opening night when the defending champion Michael Smith starts off his title defence when he takes on the winner of the first game of the night which will be either Kevin Doets or Stowe Buntz.

Obviously we can’t delve too deep into this one because we don’t know who Smith will be facing but we do know that it is an advantage for the lower ranked player to have had a match on the stage. We very rarely get many 3-0 blowouts in the second round matches since this new format came to the fore and you would imagine the underdog could be good for a set at least, especially if it is Doets. He is a pretty heavy scorer and by the time this match comes around he will have settled. Clearly though this one will be all about Michael Smith. If he is anything close to the form he had with him last year he wins this but he hasn’t completely convinced with his new darts and looked terrible in losing to Richard Veenstra at the Players Championship Finals. If it is Doets I’ll be looking to get involved in some handicaps but until the identity is known we can’t get betting in this one.


Back S.Whitlock – Over 3.5 180s for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with Betway