Peter Wright v Arron Monk
After a number of slightly one-sided first round matches, tonight’s opening match could be a real tungsten tussle. Peter Wright’s run to the quarter-finals of the Players Championship Finals a fortnight ago was a timely reminder of what Snakebite can do. Following a breakthrough 2011 the Scot had disappointed in 2012, but has shown signs of improvement in recent months; winning a ProTour event in Killarney and reaching the latter stages of a couple of others.
Arron Monk’s darting education continued apace this year and he arrives at Ally Pally having topped the 2012 Youth Tour Order of Merit ahead of the likes of Michael Smith and James Hubbard. The youngster has also enjoyed success at the Grand Slam of Darts recently, beating James Wade and Jan Dekker to qualify for the last 16.
The gun-to-head bet in the Match Odds market would have to be Monk at odds of 2.20, but there’s better value to be had in some of the other markets. I can see this going all the way to a deciding set, so Over 17.5 legs at odds of 2.00 is worth a nibble, while it is a 2.65 chance that we see more than 4.5 sets.
Mark Webster v Ian White
When the draw was made a couple of weeks ago there were two particular players that none of the seeded players wanted to face. Dean Winstanley was one of them (he plays Mervyn King) and Ian White was the other.
And it’s a particularly bad draw for Mark Webster. The Welshman has been struggling with his game lately, and would have been praying for one of the easier opening round opponents. The Welshman reached the semi-finals at Ally Pally two years ago, which means that he comes into this tournament defending that prize money, thus cranking up the pressure even further. A first round defeat would nock £44,000 off his prize money in the Order of Merit, and drop him possibly 10 places and outside the top 20.
White doesn’t have any such worries as he makes only his second appearance on Muswell Hill. Diamond is a player enjoying an unlikely resurgence in his career and plays with the aura of a man who is happy to have the chance to be playing darts in front of big crowds and earning good money.
Perhaps surprisingly, it is the world number 33 White who is made the 1.85 favourite to beat world number 11 Webster. But that’s an indication of just how much Webby is struggling and I have to agree with the compilers here.
James Wade v Pete Hudson
If James Wade is at his best then this is a match that he would win at a canter. But it is now a long, long time since we saw The Machine at his best, making it impossible to advise any sort of bet at odds of 1.15.
There are also a couple of other reasons that Wade makes little appeal this evening. Firstly, his relatively disappointing record in this event. Although he has had some memorable moments at Ally Pally he’s never been able to rediscover the form that has seen him win multiple other Majors, and also suffered a shock defeat to Mensur Suljovic here two years ago.
The second worry is his poor record against Pete Hudson. Considering that there are 61 places separating these two players in the rankings, Hudson’s 2-1 head-to-head advantage is notable.
There’s no point in looking for something that isn’t there, so lets just leave this match alone from a betting perspective, and see what we can learn about Wade ahead of a potential second round match with Steve Beaton.
Over 17.5 legs @ 2.00 in Wright v Monk
Over 4.5 sets @ 2.65 in Wright v Monk
White to beat Webster @ 1.85