Michael van Gerwen v Steve Beaton
Having caught the bookmakers off guard by beating Simon Whitlock at big prices, the compilers have taken heed and made Michael van Gerwen a strong favourite to defeat Steve Beaton in the second round.
Analysing previous meetings between the pair would be a futile exercise given the newfound confidence that Van Gerwen is playing with. Nevertheless, the 4-2 advantage that the youngster holds over his opponent only further strengthens my feelings for backing him at odds of 1.53.
It is likely that he will need to beat the very best in the game if he is to go all the way this week, and I’m not sure he is quite there yet, but I wouldn’t put anyone off having a few quid on Mighty Mike at the 30.00 to win this tournament.
James Wade v Mark Walsh
2005 World Matchplay champion James Wade came through a tricky opening round match against Richie Burnett in relatively convincing fashion on Sunday night. Having taken an 8-1 lead in the match there was the customary lapse in concentration from The Machine that allowed his opponent back into the match, but in the end it was a comfortable 10-5 win.
His reward is a match-up against number 14 seed Mark Walsh, who came through a ding-dong battle with Colin Osborne, eventually winning 10-8 with a meagre 89.59 average.
The head-to-head record between the two is tilted slightly in favour of Wade, who has nine victories to Walsh’s six. More significant, though, is that Wade has won their two major clashes in front of the cameras, including at the same stage of this tournament 12 months ago, when Wade won 13-11.
Although there is potential for this to be a close match, I cannot see Walsh getting over the line when it matters. Odds of 1.15 on Wade winning are short, but deservedly so.
Raymond van Barneveld v Terry Jenkins
Terry Jenkins was forced to dig deep in his opening round match against Kim Huybrechts, coming back from 5-9 down to win 11-9. He can’t afford to start as poorly against an opponent of Raymond van Barneveld’s calibre.
While Jenkins was expending mental energy, Barney cruised into round two with a straightforward 10-4 win over young Michael Smith. The Dutchman hit five 180s and managed a three-dart average of 97.93 without really getting out of second gear.
Expect Jenkins to push Barney and put the five-time World Champion under much more pressure, but don’t expect him to cause an upset. There aren’t many trophies in darts that Van Barneveld hasn’t had his hands on, so perhaps this could be the year that he adds the Matchplay title to his long list of honours.
Adrian Lewis v Andy Smith
To whitewash any opponent in a major tournament takes some doing in the modern game. But to beat the man who lifted the most recent Major title 10-0 in front of the television cameras takes not only exceptional talent but also massive cahoonas.
Adrian Lewis’s talent is unquestionable, as back-to-back World titles suggest, but his application is often under scrutiny. This week, however, he has the bit between his teeth. The added incentive of being able to claim the world number one spot with the title in Blackpool has focussed Jackpot and makes him an extremely dangerous opponent.
Andy Smith was solid enough in his win over Paul Nicholson, but with all due respect, the Aussie-Geordie’s game is currently way off the pace required at this level. For me Lewis wins this one at a canter, and could dish out another one-sided beating.
Back Van Gerwen, Wade, Van Barneveld & Lewis all to win @ 2.75