The opening weekend of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship has already provided plenty of excitement, most notably through rookie Gino Vos’ sterling effort at upsetting the Adrian Lewis applecart early doors.
There’re still several eye-catching first round clashes to come and we’ve strung together a fourfold that will hopefully ensure backers begin the last week before Christmas with a tidy 11/1 payout.
Raymond van Barneveld (-1.5) to beat Michael Smith @ 4/9
Original Dutch master Raymond van Barneveld has rediscovered his brilliant best form at the right moment. His Grand Slam of Darts triumph showcased some of Barney’s finest performances witnessed in years and sent out a statement that he should not be ignored at the Ally Pally.
He crashed out of the competition at this stage last year so will be doubly determined to win well against the very much unfancied Michael Smith.
He’s beaten Smith in each of their last three meetings and a five-leg deficit is as close as he’s come to matching Barney in any televised tussle. This makes backing Barney to overcome a 1.5-set handicap and still prevail in this clash well worth a punt.
Mark Webster to beat Ian White @ 1/1
Since winning the Lakeside world crown and making his subsequent switch to the PDC, Mark Webster has struggled to live up to his obvious potential and almost disappeared off the radar over the last year.
Much like Barney, however, he showed signs of his best at the Grand Slam in a comprehensive win over Scott Waites. A reproduction of the effort from this match should see him fare well against Ian White who, although he enjoyed a strong 2012, isn’t the most difficult of opponents he could’ve faced in the opening round.
James Richardson (+1.5) to beat Andy Hamilton @ 5/6
Andy Hamilton is a genuine dark horse for the World Championship and will prove too strong for James Richardson, who heroically dumped Barney out of this tournament last year.
However, the obvious talent that Richardson possesses means he would only have to win two sets for this bet to cop and he’s proved that he’s more than capable of performing on the biggest stage of them all, having cruised past the Dutchman in straight sets on his Ally Pally bow.
Arron Monk to beat Peter Wright @ 6/5
Arron Monk is one of the brightest prospects in darts and has upped his game in 2012. This was no more evident than in his 5-1 trouncing of James Wade at the Grand Slam.
The Machine is without question a cut above Peter Wright and Snakebite could find himself in real trouble in his first round match.
His and Monkey’s head-to-head records are all-square at two wins apiece, but the latter has claimed the spoils in both of their most recent encounters, including a 6-5 Players’ Championship win in November, proving he has what it takes to better his next adversary when they square off at the Ally Pally oche.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date