Part and Cullen could deliver an epic
Saturday evening will be billed, rightfully and understandably, as the night the world number one enters the lion’s den of the Alexandra Palace, but there is plenty more to look forward to other than the Power on Saturday night.
First up is Dave Chisnall taking on Australian qualifier Shane TIchowitsch who will be making his second appearance on the biggest stage of all. The Aussie lost in round one to Andy Smith two years ago and despite dominating the darts scene in his home country this year, he will most likely face the same fate this time around.
Chisnall may have flopped at the Players Championship Finals, getting whitewashed by Wayne Jones in round one, but he is highly unlikely to let the same thing happen against the man known as TNT. Tichowitsch has got very used to winning this year though having reached an extraordinary amount of finals in Australia so he is very capable of taking a set off Chisnall even if that is all he manages. Betfred are the one of very few bookies offering odds-against on the Aussie on the +2.5 handicap and I think their generosity at 6/5 should be gratefully accepted.
The preliminary match is next up between German Wunderkid Max Hopp and South African unknown Charl Pietersen. It is a bit of a toss-up, but with Hopp having beaten both Terry Jenkins and Steve Beaton on the big stage earlier this year at the Dutch Darts Masters, that experience could just prove the difference. The youngster is odds-on in places but 11/10 with Sky Bet and that looks a very good price.
Youth taking on experience is again the order of the day as Joe Cullen takes on John Part in what could be a really close battle. This is now Cullen’s third appearance at the world championships and he is yet to get past the first round having lost twice to Terry Jenkins and he will be desperate for a win this time around having had his best year yet on tour with a debut at the Matchplay and a last 16 appearance at the UK Open. Part though is an incredibly tough opponent, he reached the last eight here last year and the same stage of the Grand Slam and a Pro Tour event just last month so he is in decent form.
I fancy Cullen to really push him though and there could be a similar match to when the Yorkshireman narrowly lost 3-2 to the Bull two years ago. The 7/4 on the match going the full five sets looks a good price with Paddy Power. Part should just about nick it, but there will not be much in it.
Then comes the great man as Phil Taylor will take to the stage against a very nervous debutant in Northern Ireland’s Mickey Mansell. In short this match is not really worth betting on, Taylor does not mess around in the first round, he hasn’t dropped a set in the first match of the world championships since 2008 and shouldn’t do here. He is best priced 1/33 to win the match but even the 3-0 win is best priced 1/3 so unless you want to go very heavily on this it is probably worth avoiding.
The final match of the evening will be the winner of Hopp v Pietersen taking on the wily veteran Dennis “The Heat” Ovens. As always it is difficult to say how the preliminary match winner will come into this match but Ovens is very solid and should be able to see either man off.
Shane Tichowitsch (+2.5) to win @ 6/5 with Betfred
Max Hopp to win @ 11/10 with Sky Bet
John Part v Joe Cullen over 4.5 sets @ 7/4 with Paddy Power
• Phil Taylor v Michael van Gerwen betting
• James Wade v Michael van Gerwen betting
• Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld betting
• Favourites to keep on winning
• Two epics in prospect on Friday
• Artist to brush the champion aside
• Newton to down Special Brew
• The Bull could charge through Hamilton
• Beaton could push Wade all the way
• Favourites to prosper on Saturday night
• The Rocket could soar against the Artist
• Part and Bull to go the distance
• Comfortable afternoons for Hammer and Chizzy
• Kellett to KO Big Vince
• Priestley to roll back the years
• King and Winstanley set for five sets
• Everybody loves Raymond
• Rodriguez or Bowles to steal the show
• Dolan to continue stellar form
• Hendriks to strike the right note against Jones
• Don't expect whitewashes on night one
• Big finishes & big averages to come
• Mighty Mike can rule the world
• Hammer has sights set on title
• 9/4 Taylor turns The Power back on
• World title odds slashed as Taylor bounces back