Day seven at the PDC World Darts Championship sees three more seeds attempting to avoid an early exit at the Alexandra Palace.
Michael Smith will kick-off the first round games against Steve Lennon before Simon Whitlock takes on German youngster Martin Schindler.
The action concludes with in-form arrowsmith Justin Pipe facing either Xiao Chen Zong or Bernie Smith.
Without further adieu, let’s cast our eyes over tonight’s Ally Pally line-up…
Michael Smith v Steve Lennon
After a disappointing 2016, Smith has shown signs of turning his form around this year.
‘Bully Boy’ has reached the quarter-finals of six Players Championship events alongside a latter stage appearance at the European Championship in October.
He’s gone beyond the last-32 at the last four World Championships and should be able to see off Lennon at 1/3.
As a fast starter, the 27-year-old also looks likely to hit a 180 in the opening leg of the match at 19/10
However, Smith does tend to make hard work of his opening appearances in North London.
The St Helens-born thrower has dropped sets against Ricky Evans, Jeffrey de Zwaan and Morihiro Hashimoto in recent years.
Against Lennon, a solid young player on the PDC Youth Tour, he likely won’t have things his own way.
Simon Whitlock v Martin Schindler
After a couple of lean years, we’re starting to see the best of Whitlock once again.
The Aussie reached the final of the World Grand Prix in October and followed that up with a quarter-final appearance in the European Championship.
He should have no problems dispatching debutant Schindler at 2/7.
While seeds may be falling at an alarming rate at this year’s Worlds, Schindler doesn’t look to pose much of a threat to a seasoned pro like Whitlock.
His last five first round wins at the Alexandra Palace have all come via a 3-0 scoreline. It’s 21/10 for a repeat performance this evening.
And given Whitlock’s proficiency for taking out big checkouts, we also like the look of a 180 in the last leg and the match to be won on the bull at 33/1.
Justin Pipe v Xiao Chen Zong/Bernie Smith
Pipe shaped up for his eighth tilt at the worlds with a run to the semi-finals of the Players Championship last month.
Regardless of which preliminary qualifier he faces in the penultimate game of the evening, we’re expecting the Taunton thrower to come through with flying colours.
Expect The Force to put past Ally Pally disappointments behind him to set up a second round clash with Phil Taylor.
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