The second evening session in the 2021 World Matchplay comes along on Sunday when another eight players get their campaign underway inside the Winter Gardens in Blackpool each chasing a spot in the last 16 of the competition.
We saw some good darts on Saturday night but you suspect the action will be much better in this session given the high calibre of player that we have on show over the course of the evening, with stars such as Michael Smith, Peter Wright and Jose de Sousa taking to the oche.
Joe Cullen vs Chris Dobey
The opening match of the night sees a Joe Cullen who really has underachieved in his career taking on a man who might just be hitting his best form after winning his first PDC title last week in the form of Chris Dobey.
Both these men are talented players but for one reason or another Cullen just can’t seem to relax and throw his best darts on the biggest stages. That might have changed after his display in defeat to van Gerwen at the World Championship but he must be cursing his luck as even when he played his best he faltered at the finish line. Dobey hasn’t really done it on TV either but he’s a lot earlier in his career to his opponent here and will be buoyed by his win at the Super Series last week. Cullen had a mare there. He lost his first three opening round matches then withdrew from the final competition amid suggestions his head wasn’t in it. I can’t be siding with someone in that position so the odds against on Dobey will do me here.
Michael Smith vs Ryan Searle
The second match of the evening sees the beaten finalist of a couple of years ago in Michael Smith, taking on one of the most talented unseeded players in the draw in Ryan Searle in a match which could ignite into a real corker if both play near to their best.
Smith is defending a lot of cash at this tournament so he needs to win here and he’ll be confident against a Searle who away from the World Championship hasn’t really shown his best stuff on TV. He is very dangerous though as all heavy scorers are and if Searle hits his doubles he can certainly make things difficult for Smith, who has been guilty of missing key shots on the big stage for far too long. You get the feeling that this is the sort of match which will be settled on a missed double at the wrong time and that isn’t really a match I like to bet on.
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Peter Wright vs Danny Noppert
Two men who have been deep in the biggest tournaments in the world collide in the penultimate match of a busy day when the former world champion Peter Wright goes up against Danny Noppert who himself has reached a world final.
I guess the first thing to question is which Wright will turn up. We’ve seen many different levels of Wright over the last 12 months or so and not all of them have been good. He’ll need to play well to come through here because Noppert is a tough campaigner who had a decent run in a couple of the Super Series events last week. Wright actually won one of those tournaments though so you would think he comes here in form and ready to put a marker down and showcase that he means business. I’d rather see that first though before committing to it. I’ll sit this one out.
Jose de Sousa vs Gabriel Clemens
The final match of the day sees the Grand Slam of Darts champion Jose de Sousa beginning his quest for a second major title when he takes on the German star Gabriel Clemens, who himself has all the ability needed to take down a tournament of this kind.
De Sousa is arguably in the top three players in the world right now. He holds the Grand Slam title and was only beaten in the final of the Premier League by Jonny Clayton six weeks or so ago. He comes in here off the back of a fine Super Series where he lost in a final and a couple of semi-finals. Clemens was solid without perhaps being spectacular last week but he’ll go about his business here and he’ll probably do it very efficiently which makes me think that over 10.5 180s can land here. We know de Sousa will hit plenty of them. That is his modus operandi but Clemens is no stranger to the 60 bed either and in a good match to conclude the day I expect the scoring to be strong throughout.
Back C.Dobey to beat J.Cullen for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with BetVictor
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Back J.de Sousa vs G.Clemens – Over 10.5 180s for a 3/10 stake at 1.87 with Betfair
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