Andy Hamilton v Brendan Dolan
It’s been a fantastic 12 months for both of these players. Andy Hamilton reached the final of the World Championships and was then invited to play in the subsequent Premier League, while Brendan Dolan went all the way to the final of the World Grand Prix in front of his home crowd, with a nine-darter en route.
However, while Hamilton has used his success to go from strength to strength and establish himself as a top 10 player, Dolan has slipped back into the mould of an also-ran.
The Hammer has a 7-3 head-to-head advantage and is a player much more in control of his game than his Northern Irish opponent. The 1.36 available on a Hamilton win may not attract too many as a standalone bet, but this is certainly one that you can confidently add to your accumulator.
Vincent van der Voort v Ian White
Vincent van der Voort is one of the more likeable characters in the game and raises smiles with his adopted KC & The Sunshine Band theme tune. He has, however, had his troubles in recent times battling with psychological daemons both at and away from the oche.
His opponent today is one of the game’s perennial journeymen. Ian White has yet to make it past the last 32 stage of a PDC tournament, but could be presented with his best opportunity to date in Blackpool this week.
A fairly limited three-match head-to-head record is tilted slightly in favour of the Dutchman, but with two of those matches being settled in a deciding leg there is little to choose between the two in that respect.
Van der Voort is undoubtedly the more talented of the two, but he needs to sort a few things out between the ears before he can challenge on this stage again. It wouldn’t be a huge upset should the unseeded White win and at odds of 2.25 he’s worth a dabble.
Phil Taylor v Mervyn King
Against many of the other seeded players Mervyn King could have been chalked up as a clear favourite to progress to the second round. Unfortunately for him, it was Phil Taylor’s name that came out of the hat. Consequently, it's difficult to see him capitalising on his recent run of good form with a long run at the Matchplay this week.
It wasn’t the ideal draw for Taylor either, who is often guilty of taking a bit of time to get going in major tournaments. Yet the fact that the pair have been such fierce rivals over the years, and that The Power will know exactly what to expect from King, should serve to focus the 12-time Matchplay champion from the offset.
King is capable of beating Taylor if things go in his favour, but The Power’s 24-6 record in matches between the pair highlights the enormity of the task. It’s hard to make any serious argument for backing King, even at odds of 5.00.
Mark Webster v Colin Lloyd
The final match of the evening pits 2005 World Matchplay champion Colin Lloyd against 2008 Lakeside winner Mark Webster. Lloyd’s record in Blackpool since winning the title seven years ago is pitiful to say the least – only once has he made it past the first round – but he does come into this year’s tournament in good form having won a ProTour event in Crawley at the beginning of this month.
Webster’s recent performances haven’t been nearly as impressive, with only a single semi-final appearance in 21 events so far this year. Despite the Welshman being the seeded player I would have had no qualms about him being chalked up as the outsider in the betting for this match.
As it is, Lloyd is the one being quoted at an odds-against 2.12 and it is therefore he, who also holds a 5-3 head-to-head advantage in matches between the pair, who is the outstanding value bet.
Hamilton to beat Dolan @ 1.36
White to beat Van der Voort @ 2.25
Lloyd to beat Webster @ 2.12