Wright and Cullen can steal the show
The opening night of the 2014 World Championship looks set to be a thoroughly entertaining one with three world champions on the bill including the current PDC champ Phil Taylor.
First on though is three time king of the world John Part who takes on the rarely seen on television Dutchman Mareno Michels. The 29-year-old has been around for a while, first appearing at the BDO World Championships in 2006 but has never made an impact in the PDC and his experience on the big stage is nothing compared to that of Darth Maple.
However, the Canadian legend is not one to blow people away these days and although he will get through this challenge it will not be a walk in the park. It may be a skinny price but it is better to kick off the tournament with a win and back over 3.5 sets at 4/9 with Bet365.
The Power’s opponent is not yet known as he will take on the winner of the preliminary contest between PDPA qualifier Ian Moss and New Zealander Rob Szabo. Little is known of Szabo to be honest whilst Moss did beat some quality and established players to reach the Alexandra Palace. Moss should triumph but these prelims often run close in a race to four legs and over 5.5 legs looks worth backing at 8/11 with Sky Bet.
One of the stars of the PDC tour this year has undoubtedly been Peter Wright who has shot up to 16th in the world and is now a regular force on the floor, if not so often on the stage. He takes on Joe Cullen who has not had such a great season but is a very capable player on his day and this could be a really cracking match. Wright will prosper but if Cullen fires then there could be fireworks and over 7.5 180s at EVENS with Sky Bet looks a distinct possibility.
The final match of the evening should be the tightest as Richie Burnett meets Dean Winstanley, neither of whom will have fond memories of 2013. After a cracking debut season in the PDC including a 9-darter at the Ally Pally 12 months ago, the majority expected Winstanley to be in the top 32 by now but he has had a shocking year and remains 37th on the planet.
Burnett has not pulled up any trees either and this could be a scrappy affair between two men out of form. The Yorkshireman is favourite at 9/10 with Paddy Power with Burnett just behind at EVENS with Betfred which shows just how tight the bookies expect this one to be. Given that, it is something of a surprise that Sky Bet are offering 7/4 on this one going all the way to five sets and after the first round scraps these two have endured in recent years that looks a great bet.
John Part v Mareno Michels over 3.5 sets @ 4/9 with Bet365
Ian Moss v Rob Szabo over 5.5 legs @ 8/11 with Sky Bet
Peter Wright v Joe Cullen over 7.5 180s @ EVENS with Sky Bet
Richie Burnett v Dean Winstanley over 4.5 sets @ 7/4 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
• Walsh in trouble against Komula
• Taylor will prove he is still King of the world