Justin Pipe v Andy Jenkins
Rumour has it that Justin Pipe is working to some sort of darting master plan set out by an oracle that lives beneath the boards of the Ally Pally stage. In the space of 24 months The Force has risen from relative obscurity to number nine in the world, and all with his own unique style of play.
First he took to dominating the floor circuit, winning three events in 2011 and topping the ProTour Order of Merit, now he’s looking to take over on the big stage. A run to the semi-finals of the Players Championship Finals a fortnight ago came on the back of two Major quarter-final appearances earlier in the year. Now he looks set for another trip into the latter stages on the biggest stage of all.
Andy Jenkins nabbed the final World Championships qualifying place available via the ProTour Order of Merit this season, pipping Stuart Kellet and Dennis Smith by the measly sum of £100.
Surprisingly, Pipe has only won one of their previous five meetings, so I’m reluctant to back him to win the match at odds of 1.28 or in the handicap market at 1.53.
If Jenkins can take a set then the 1.95 about there being more than 16.5 legs looks a good bet, as does the 1.92 about there being more than 5.5 180s.
Ronnie Baxter v Dennis Priestley
Having played in every single PDC World Championships event since its inception in 1992, Priestley did not qualify for last year’s staging and many believed that The Menace’s time was up. Many, that is, other than the man himself.
Priestley arrives at Alexandra Palace in good form having reached the final and two quarter-finals of recent Players Championship events, and could cause an upset against an inconsistent Ronnie Baxter.
The Rocket has shown in spurts this season that he does still have a solid game in his armoury. But all too often impressive performances are followed up by something altogether more mediocre.
If Priestley can catch his opponent on an off day then he has the game to capitalise, and at odds of 2.40 the 62-year-old is worth taking a gamble on.
Colin Lloyd v Darin Young
Much like Ronnie Baxter, Colin ‘Jaws’ Lloyd still has the ability to beat the top players on occasion; but only on occasion. The former Matchplay and Grand Prix winner was a quarter-finalist at the European Championships earlier this season, beating James Wade on the way, but has failed to make it past the last 32 stage of any other Major event this calendar year.
Darin Young will be making his fifth consecutive appearance at Alexandra Palace after earning one of the international qualifier spots, and he’ll be hoping to emulate his one and only win of three years ago when he defeated Andy Smith in round one.
These two met each other at this very stage of last year’s World Championships and Lloyd came out on top a fairly comfortable 3-1 winner in the end. Young’s capable of taking another set this evening, but I can’t see him getting much more from the match, so back Jaws to again win 3-1 at odds of 3.50.
Priestely to beat Baxter @ 2.40
Lloyd to win 3-1 @ 3.50