Two days of last 16 clashes, and two results that have shaken the PDC World Darts Championship to its very core. First the world number one and seemingly unstoppable Michael Van Gerwen was, well, stopped by Raymond Van Barneveld in a tungsten tussle of the highest order on Tuesday. And then sixteen-time champion Phil Taylor was downed by Jelle Klaasen on Wednesday.
Those shocks have done funny things to the betting for the quarter finals and beyond, although there is still plenty of quality – and not to mention punting value – to enjoy.
Scot to Trot
Reigning champion Gary Anderson is now a heavy 2/1 favourite with the bookmakers following Phil Taylor’s defeat, and that’s largely because his route to the final is slightly easier than most of his foes.
The Flying Scotsman will meet James Wade in the quarter final; no easy task of course, but with the Machine looking a bit flaky in his last 16 clash with Jamie Caven (where he averaged little over 93) it’s fair to say that Anderson will be a strong favourite given his 4-0 demolition of Vincent Van Der Voort in his last outing. It’s unlikely that the Scot will feel too much pressure either given that Wade is capable.
And then in the last four he would meet the winner of the Alan Norris and Jelle Klaasen encounter. It’s been a dream PDC World Championship debut for Norris, and he couldn’t have wished for a better draw: an out-of-sorts Robert Thornton, a game but underwhelming Joe Murnan and then a last 16 clash with Mark Webster, who is playing well at the moment but still eminently beatable nonetheless. ‘Chuck’ averaged 95 in a routine victory over the Welshman.
But it was Klaasen who really caught the eye against Taylor on Wednesday evening. He smashed in 15 maximums and a 102 average against The Power in a thrilling 4-3 win, and now the Dutchman will be fancied to take out Norris in the last eight.
And that would set up a semi final date with Anderson, and given Klaasen’s occasional inconsistency on the doubles, you would have to assume that the Scot will make his second consecutive world final.
Peter Made of the Wright Stuff?
But it is the top half of the draw that offers the most intrigue….and betting value. The first of the semi finals will see Michael Smith take on MVG’s conqueror, Raymond Van Barneveld. In sport there is the theory of ‘After the Lord Major’s Show’, where a player finds it impossible to replicate their performance level of a previous notable triumph.
The good news for Barney fans is that he has had three days to ‘get over’ his brilliance against Van Gerwen, the bad news is that he now meets the power scoring of Smith, who is one of the top maximum hitters left in the competition. But his finishing can often go awry under pressure, and with Barney being so experienced at this level we have to fancy him to get the job done; and at 4/5 we can back him to do just that.
It is the other quarter final that serves up the most mouth watering clash. Two-time world champ Adrian Lewis takes on Peter Wright, who overcame Dave Chisnall 4-3 in an Ally Pally classic on Wednesday. That victory may have taken too much out of Wright – that ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’ psychology – and with Lewis in fine fettle at the moment we’re siding with Jackpot to win.
So an eye-popping semi final date between Barney and Lewis could be in the offing….and that really is a pick ‘em match. Bt there is something irresistible about Lewis at the moment, and we can back him at 4/1 each way to lift the trophy and still pick up a nice sum should he succumb in the final.