The greatest darting spectacle on the planet has kicked off in typically rancorous fashion, and with fifteen of the top sixteen seedings either smashing their way into the second round or falling over the line, there will be plenty of quality on display when the second phase of the competition kicks off on Friday and resumes after Christmas on Tuesday the 27th.
There has been barely any change at the top of the outright market – expected given that no top seeds have departed the tournament, and so instead for betting value we must investigate the match markets and see if we can identify any value there.
Good news, tungsten aficionados: there is plenty to be found:
Simon Whitlock vs Darren Webster – Over 11.5 Maximums (11/10)
Friday December 23, 19:15
This match is likely to have plenty of legs, literally and figuratively speaking – these are best-of-seven encounters in the second round remember, and with to equally-matched players in good form a minimum of six sets looks probable.
Webster has been in excellent form of late and tossed in eight 180s in his 3-2 win over Stephen Bunting in round one, and the pocket rocket will be looking to build on that as he takes on the bearded Aussie.
Whitlock only contributed one maximum in his comfortable 3-0 triumph against Dragutin Horvath, but don’t worry about that: the Wizard hammered in 19 scores of 100+ in total and was never troubled by the Croatian debutant. His standard will improve here considerably.
Gary Anderson vs Andrew Gilding – Over 11.5 Maximums (5/6)
Friday December 23, 20:30
The 2017 World Championships has already witnessed 30 more maximums at this stage of the competition than the 2016 renewal, and so we have no qualms about jumping on board the 180 bandwagon once again here.
These two combined to deliver 13 maximums in their first-round matches, and considering reigning world champion Anderson wasn’t pushed at all by his opponent Mark Frost that is some achievement. In contrast Gilding’s contest with John Henderson went all the way to sudden death, which artificially pushed his 180 count up, but he is a power-scorer by nature and his eight maximums reflective of that ability.
We’re anticipating a one-sided contest here – with Anderson probably winning 4-1 or 4-0 – and with the pressure of the first round off his shoulders we expect the Flying Scotsman to pepper the treble twenty bed. Gilding, gallant in defeat, will do likewise.
Adrian Lewis vs Joe Cullen – Over 5.5 Sets (5/6)
Friday December 23, 21:30
The performance of round one went to Joe Cullen, who finally delivered on his undoubted potential to see off cocksure debutant Corey Cadby in an Ally Pally classic.
The Barnsley chucker averaged 101 – 111 for sets two and three – on his way to a 3-1 victory and probably the best TV performance of his career.
It would be some effort for him to repeat that level, but tonight’s opponent Adrian Lewis – as breathtakingly good as he is in full flight – has a habit of letting his opponents in. Jackpot could have dropped two sets to Magnus Caris in round one; the Swede had numerous darts to win key legs. And that’s a guy averaging 80, so Lewis will have to buck his ideas up here.
We expect the two-time world champion to win out in the end, but expect Cullen to win at least two sets.
Robert Thornton Most 180s against Daryl Gurney (13/8)
Tuesday December 27, 14:00
Gurney outscored Thornton 5-4 on the maximums in round one, but then the Irishman had an extra set to play in over his Scottish rival. With an equal playing field here, we expect the Scot to just get over the line.
Thornton’s form has been inconsistent, to put it mildly, in 2016, but his scoring has never deserted him – it’s the finishing that’s his Achilles Heel.
We accept Gurney is an outstanding young talent, but Thornton is a double major-winner and you don’t achieve those kinds of accolades without hitting plenty of maximums along the way.
Michael van Gerwen v Cristo Reyes – Over 11.5 Maximums (Evens)
Tuesday December 27, 20:00
Even if MVG wins this match 4-0, we still expect there to be at least twelve 180s scored here. The Dutch destroyer is the premier maximum hitter on the planet, and he notched five in a rudimentary 3-0 win over Kim Viljanen in round one.
Here he takes on a Spaniard with a penchant for the treble 20 bed. Reyes has hit nine-darters on the tour before, and his game is built around consistency of scoring. He bludgeoned four 180s in round one and will have been delighted to see off Dimitri van den Bergh 3-2; the Belgian averaged 100 after all.
So yes, a comfortable enough MVG win here, but plenty of maximums to be enjoyed too.