The second round of the PDC World Darts Championship continues inside Alexandra Palace on Friday evening when some of the biggest names in the sport look to extend their campaign into the post-Christmas action.
We have no fewer than three TV tournament winners on show over the course of the night, one of whom has lifted this trophy in the past. There are also some rising stars from Europe and beyond on what looks like a good night of action.
Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Florian Hempel
The opening match of the night sees Dimitri Van den Bergh back on the Alexandra Palace for the first time since coming out on the wrong end of a very one-sided semi-final 11 months ago. The German qualifier Florian Hempel is his opponent.
These two met here two years ago when Hempel announced himself to the world and launched his career with a 3-1 win but Van den Bergh has won both of their meetings since then. You would have to argue that DVDB isn’t anything like the form horse he was prior to their last World Championship meeting, although the fact that Hempel had to go to the PDPA qualifier as a last chance to make it here tells you the sort of year he has had. Nevertheless, the longer the first round match went on for Hempel the better he looked and if he can start here how he finished in that he could be very dangerous. I was looking at the 180s here but the 8.5 line is one higher than I would have been comfortable with so I’ll sit this out because the match odds are about right.
Martin Schindler vs Jermaine Wattimena
The second match of the evening is also a clash between two continental Europeans as the German number two Martin Schindler takes on the Dutch ace Jermaine Wattimena, who was very impressive in seeing off Fallon Sherrock in the first round.
Based on his performance in that match, Wattimena would look to have every chance in this one and you sense he’ll bring a strong game with him now that he has got over that first hurdle. Schindler hasn’t pulled up trees in 2023 but he generally does the business against the lower ranked opponents and those around him in the rankings but falls short against the better players. Generally when these two meet they deliver close matches which has me tempted with the Schindler over 4.5 180s, which certainly lands if this goes to five sets but there isn’t really enough wiggle room should it not go the distance so once again while I’m very tempted to get involved here, I’ll just about rein myself in and leave this one alone.
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Raymond van Barneveld vs Radek Szaganski
Two more continental European players take to the stage in the third match of the night as the former champion Raymond van Barneveld goes up against Radek Szaganski in a match between men at opposite ends of the Alexandra Palace experience scale.
Barneveld won this title prior to it arriving in Alexandra Palace and he’ll be keen to snatch it for a first time in its current venue and he is a warm favourite to progress through to the next round. Szaganski has won a tournament on the floor this year which many thought would make him dangerous for this but he didn’t transfer that form into his first round match, where for four sets he visibly struggled. The pace of that match could have had something to do with it and it is to his credit that the longer it went on the better he got but he’ll need to start much better if he is going to get anything from this one. I would be surprised if Barneveld is beaten here but he has lost to worse on this stage and probably doesn’t have enough TV wins under his belt in 2023 for me to be completely confident in him so I’ll leave this one alone too.
Chris Dobey vs William O’Connor
It might well be that the pick of the matches on Friday night is the last one on the stage as The Masters champion Chris Dobey goes up against the Irish player William O’Connor, who looked very impressive in the opening round on Wednesday.
O’Connor won without dropping a leg in the first round and it should be said he was given no opposition at all but sometimes it is harder to put in high averages in that situation so the fact that O’Connor averaged 98.74 with individual set averages of 104.86 and 100.20 mixed in there suggests that he is feeling good about his game. Dobey should be feeling alright about his too because he has had a huge year and he’ll be out to right the disappointment of not really getting a chance in the quarter final here a year ago when he ran into a full Michael van Gerwen blitz. These two have met six times in the past and it is 3-3 between them and four of those six matches have been 6-4 or 6-5 in legs which suggests that we could be in for a tough encounter here. If we are then there is every chance O’Connor takes this to a decider if he hasn’t already pulled off an upset before then. Dobey can sometimes take a while to get up to speed and if that happens here then O’Connor can definitely make it to two sets if not three.
Back W.O’Connor (+1.5 sets) to beat C.Dobey for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with Betway