All eyes will be on two-time world champion Michael van Gerwen tonight, as the Green Machine makes his 2019 World Championship bow at the Alexandra Palace.
MVG will face the winner of this afternoon’s clash between Alan Tabern and Ray Smith in the final game of the evening session.
There are three tight tungsten tussles to come before that, though. And we’ve previewed each of them with a full complement of tips.
Toni Alcinas v Craig Ross
It’s been a tough few months for Toni Alcinas. The Spaniard has won just four of his last 12 ranking matches, with each of those coming in separate tournaments.
The good news for El Dartador is that his opponent this evening vastly inexperienced New Zealander, Craig Ross. The Kiwi could only make the last-32 of the New Zealand Open in August and is making is making his Ally Pally debut here.
That’s not a very good form line. And although Alcinas has been struggling, he should have the class and quality to prevail over the set format at 1/4.
Ryan Searle v Stephen Burton
Two World Championship debutants meet in the second match of the night, as Ryan Searle takes on fellow Englishman Stephen Burton.
Both players will fancy their chances of a second round date with Mensur Suljovic. Yet it’s Searle who looks the most likely to edge through based on recent form in the floor and TV tournaments.
The 31-year-old saw off Josh Payne at the Ladbrokes Players Championship and also performed admirably without winning a match in the Grand Slam of Darts last month.
Keegan Brown v Karel Sedlacek
Keegan Brown is the overwhelming 1/5 favourite to see off Slovakian qualifier Karel Sedlacek. The Needle should thread his way through comfortably – but only if his doubling holds out.
The Durham arrowsmith has been slightly off with his finishing over the longer format of late and could drop legs and even sets if he can’t clean up on his doubles.
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