Walsh in trouble against Komula
The first afternoon session of the 2014 World Championship begins with a clash between the bang out of form Mark Walsh and the dangerous Finn Jarkko Komula who is a very tempting price to upset the odds at the Ally Pally.
Walsh has had a shocking year on the tour and is moving dangerously close to the edge of the top 32 in the world having previously been in the top 16. He picked up a morale boosting win in his final group game at the Grand Slam over Justin Pipe but this just sugar-coats an awful 12 months.
Komula has not made a huge impact on tour either but his confidence will be higher than Walsh’s as he is on the way up rather than down and he reached the quarter-finals of the Dutch Darts Masters in October which is better than anything Walsh has achieved this year. Komula is a best price of 6/5 with Boyle Sports whilst he is odds-on elsewhere and the Finn is excellent value at that price.
Next comes the preliminary contest between Northern Irishman Colin McGarry and the experienced Dane Per Laursen. Somewhat surprisingly Laursen is second favourite at a best price of 11/10 with Sporting Bet despite having won on this stage before; John Part will certainly not have forgotten his 3-0 defeat in the first round in 2011. It will be a tight one but Laursen certainly looks the better value of the two.
Next up is hardly the highlight of the first round but nevertheless Wayne Jones and Kevin McDine will be looking forward to their returns to the Ally Pally stage. Jones suffered first round defeat here last year but is coming into this tournament in much better form than he was then and is quite rightly the strong favourite to progress to the last 32.
McDine is also in some decent form having made two Pro Tour quarter-finals in November but he is not much of a player on stage and Jones should canter through this one. The Wanderer to win with a -1.5 handicap looks very decent value at 5/4 with Boyle Sports.
Terry Jenkins then takes on the winner of Laursen and McGarry and although the Bull is a little unpredictable nowadays you would still expect him to see off either challenger.
Finally on the Saturday afternoon comes Ian White against Kyle Anderson, the New Zealand qualifier who seems to have the talent but is yet to have the opportunity to really show it on the big stage.
Anderson was here last year for his World Championship debut and went out in round one to Steve Beaton and although he will have improved since then, he will suffer the same fate against the excellent Ian White. There is not too much value to find in this one to be honest but the best price, despite being a slim one, is White to win with a -1.5 handicap at 8/13 with Sky Bet. He is too good for Anderson but the Kiwi could just pinch a set on route to defeat.
Jarkko Komula to win @ 6/5 with Boyle Sports
Per Laursen to win @ 11/10 with Sporting Bet
Wayne Jones (-1.5) to win @ 5/4 with Boyle Sports
Ian White (-1.5) to win @ 8/13 with Sky Bet
• MVG must hit the heights to beat Wright
• Lewis to get the better of MVG
• Wade and Lewis set for another classic
• Newton can out-180 Wright
• Saturday afternoon to be a 180-fest
• Whitlock and Painter to fire in the maximums
• Pipe to win dance-off with Petersen
• Jackpot and Dutch Destroyer to turn on the style
• Part no pushover for Newton
• Painter and Nicholson to go all the way
• Taylor bullied and beaten by Smith
• Burnett can push the Hammer in round two
• Barney and Caven could produce classic
• Webster in trouble against Suljovic
• Bomber Brown to destroy Smith
• MVG and Whitlock to stroll through
• Baxter to be swamped by Evans
• Caven to out Klaas Jelle
• Nicholson and Kellett could go all the way
• Wright and Cullen can steal the show
• Taylor will prove he is still King of the world