Mark Walsh v Darren Webster
Darren Webster returns to the PDC World Championships stage after a six-year hiatus when he takes on Mark Walsh in tonight’s opening match. And the 44-year-old can call upon some exciting memories having reached the quarter-finals of the event back in 2007 when it was last staged at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet.
Back then Webster was required to win three qualifying matches just to earn the privilege of playing in the main event, then went on to win another three before losing to Phil Taylor in the quarters. A lot, however, has changed since then, with Mark Walsh since recovering from the dartitis that contributed to him losing 3-0 to the little-known Rico Vonck in round one.
46 places now separate the pair in the PDC Order of Merit and Walsh goes into the match as a deserving, although unappealing, 1.33 favourite.
Special Brew has, however, had a disappointing year both in front of the cameras and on the floor. There’s potential for an upset here and it’s worth having a few quid on Webster to win the match at odds of 3.15
Kim Huybrechts v Scott Rand
Kim Huybrechts arrives at Alexandra Palace on the back of his first ever Major final, but not in the high spirits that would have ensued from that success. In the days after the Minehead event Huybrechts’ father suddenly passed away.
The Belgian has vowed to play at Ally Pally tonight in his father’s memory, but it’s difficult to know what sort of mindset he will be in. Regardless, it is beyond reason to talk about betting in regards to this one.
Scott Rand showed his capabilities in a first round win over Andy Smith at last year’s World Championships, but has since struggled to rediscover that form. Let’s just hope for an exciting game that would be a fitting tribute to Kim’s father.
Vincent van der Voort v Stuart Kellett
Stuart Kellet booked his place at Alexandra Palace by winning the PDPA Qualifier days before the first round draw was made. In that event he beat Monday’ night’s hero John Bowles, who defeated Carlos Rodriguez then Jamie Caven to qualify for the second round here. Suffice to say that, like Bowles, Kellett is in good form.
Vincent van der Voort, by contrast, is not. The Dutchman has struggled with a spate of injuries over the past 12-18 months and consequently slipped to number 20 in the world rankings. He also defends some considerable prize money this winter having reached the quarter-finals here two years ago. The pressure is on VDV and I’m not so sure he is in a position to handle it.
These two have met just once before, at the German Masters earlier this year, with Van der Voort emerging a narrow 6-5 winner. This one could be similarly close, so back the 2.65 about there being more than 4.5 sets, while it is 2.40 that Kellett books his place in round two.
Webster to beat Walsh @ 3.15
Kellet to beat Van der Voort @ 2.40
Over 4.5 sets in Kellet v Van der Voort @ 2.65