Michael Smith, James Wade and Simon Whitlock are among the star names set to make their 2019 World Championship bows this evening.
The trio will all be looking to make it through to the third round as the Ally Pally action focuses solely on the second round for the first time. We’ve previewed all of tonight’s matches below.
James Wilson v William O’Connor
This should be a humdinger to open the night. William O’Connor is a player on the up in 2018, while James Wilson is having his best year yet since switching from the BDO in 2015.
Lethal Biscuit is bang in form ahead of the worlds after making two quarter-finals and a semi-final on the tour in the last two-and-a-half months.
He also reached the final of the German Darts Championship in September. With his finishing improved and an average consistently in the late-90s, he should prevail at 4/9.
Simon Whitlock v Ryan Joyce
Relentless didn’t set the world alight with a 90.34 average. But his combination finishing was something to behold as From Russia With Love was sent packing.
That gives him a puncher’s chance here if seven-time TV tournament quarter-finalist in 2018 Whitlock is off-colour. He’s 9/4 to take a set off the Aussie in a 3-1 loss.
Michael Smith v Ron Meulenkamp
Things didn’t go quite to plan for Ron Meulenkamp against Diogo Portela. The Dutchman went 2-0 down against the Brazilian before producing a sterling recovery to prevail 3-2.
That sort of sluggish start will land him in hot water against Michael Smith. Bully Boy has been excellent this year after finally adding more consistent scoring to his ultra-impressive finishing.
Both players do love the treble bed, though. Smith hit 10 in his first round tie last year, while Meulenkamp knocked in eight against Portela yesterday. Over 9.5 180s is even-money, with Over 4.5 for the Dutchman at 6/5.
James Wade v Seigo Asada
It’s been quite a few months for James Wade. Fresh from becoming a father for the first time, the Machine won his first TV tournament in four years with victory in the European Championship.
Much like London buses, that was followed by another success a week later in the World Series of Darts Finals. So it’s safe to say the three-time World Championship semi-finalist is in good form.
He should prevail at 1/6 against Seigo Asada, although the Japanese ace is one tough cookie. He fought back from 2-0 down to beat the highly-fancied Krzysztof Ratajski in the last round.
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