Kist faces stern first test
The BDO world championship gets going on Saturday afternoon in a contest that could well be described as youth versus experience as debutant Jason Cullen takes on veteran of the Lakeside stage Martin Atkins.
The Assassin will be making his ninth consecutive appearance at the world championships having produced his best performance last year when he reached the quarter-final stage, losing to Ted Hankey. He won the British Open back in September and got to the final of the Czech Open at the end of November, so should be in confident mood coming into the biggest tournament of the year.
24-year-old Cullen, on the other hand, is appearing at his first world championship and really has very little experience on any stage to call upon as he takes on the man more than 20-years his senior. He only just about scraped into this tournament with the final qualification place and the first round should be as far as he gets.
The first round is best of five sets and Atkins to win with a -1.5 handicap is odds-on in most places but evens with Boyle Sports so this looks like an offer not to turn down.
The highlight of Saturday afternoon is the defending champion Christian Kist taking on the fifth seed Robbie Green in what could be the game of the first round. Kist has still been seen very rarely on television having won the title on debut last year and not making it to the World Masters in October, but he did impress at the PDC’s Grand Slam of Darts in November where he beat Raymond van Barneveld and Wes Newton.
Green is a very tricky opponent though himself having lifted three trophies this year including the Belgium Open and British National Championships and reached the second round at Lakeside in both the last two years.
There are usually not many first round matches that go the full five sets, but Kist will be nervous coming to defend his title and Green will push him all the way. The Dutchman should win it but it may well go all the way and over 4.5 sets looks good at 7/4 with Paddy Power.
The third contest of the afternoon is a level looking affair between tenth seed Gary Robson and Yorkshire’s Garry Thompson. Both men have reached the quarter-final at Lakeside in the past and both most recently in 2011 but each suffered disappointing first round defeats last year.
There really is not a great deal between the two men despite Robson being the odds-on favourite. Thompson has won both the Lancashire Open and more impressively the Swedish Open in 2012 and beat Robson when they faced in the British Classic in 2011 so he looks a good price at 6/5 with Sky Bet.
The final contest on Saturday afternoon sees Richie George (son of the legendary Bobby) taking on Dave Prins in another youth versus experience clash. George is making his world championship debut at the age of 23 whilst at 44 Prins has been here before but is yet to win a match at Lakeside in his three outings.
George will have the crowd on his side and is favourite to win the clash, but at evens, Prins looks good value to draw on his added experience and end of the romanticism of a George run at the world championships.
Martin Atkins (-1.5) to win @ evens with Boylesports
Garry Thompson to win @ 6/5 with Sky Bet
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