Bringing you the best bets of the opening night at Ally Pally
There is always something special about the opening night of the World Darts Championships and we have seen some memorable nights over the years. This promises to be a stunning way to mark this years’ Championships with the arrival of Lisa Ashton, 4 time Womens World Champion onto the Ally Pally stage for the first time. Rob Cross also begins the defence of his crown, most likely against rising star and the player all the seeds wanted to avoid…..Jeffrey De Zwaan. We also have a very decent match-up on paper between German World Youth Finalist Martin Schindler and the top Kiwi Cody Harris.
JEFFREY DE ZWAAN V NITIN KUMAR
The most mismatched 1st round encounter according to the bookies. De Zwaan, in my opinion, a potential major winner and darkhorse for the title against Kumar, an Indian with very little tv or top-flight experience outside the World Cup of Darts which has always ended prematurely. De Zwaan will feel the expectation of winning handsomely but the cool Dutchman should win 3-0 and nearly every leg
PREDICTION: JEFFREY DE ZWAAN 3-0 NITIN KUMAR
MARTIN SCHINDLER V CODY HARRIS
Definitely should be a close match-up in the betting with Schindler being the right favourite. Both players made their debut last year and Harris perhaps acquitted himself better, winning a preliminary match, compared to Schindler who looked shaky vs Simon Whitlock. Harris is close with the Aussie contingent on tour and benefits of playing regularly with higher standard players. Schindler lost a World Youth final last month to Dmitri Van Den Bergh and an insight into his psyche before that match would tell you that his confidence wasn’t very high. I can see this being close with the Kiwi outfighting his opponent in the deciding set for a small upset.
PREDICTION: MARTIN SCHINDLER 2-3 CODY HARRIS
JAN DEKKER V LISA ASHTON
The most intriguing first-round match with the best player ever arguably in the Womens game playing against Dutchman and former BDO World semi-finalist Jan Dekker. I would give Ashton a fair chance against many of the names in the hat for the 1st round but I think she has been unlucky in drawing Dekker. Dekker looked very good in this last year, causing a minor upset in reaching the last 16 with terrific doubling stats and solid scoring. But with his strong BDO credentials and cool temperament, he should be able to handle the hysteria, interest and pressure of playing a hugely popular Womens Champion. The 1st set is hugely important to this match and I feel if Dekker wins it then he will win fairly comfortably. But if he doesn’t, a raucous crowd and vicious Ashton could make it a night to forget.
PREDICTION: JAN DEKKER 3-0 LISA ASHTON
ROB CROSS V JEFFREY DE ZWAAN
The World Champion graces the opening night, as per tradition and its been a year to forget for Cross as he bears the curse of being a 1st time World Champion. I’ll not dwell too much on the miraculous story of his 1st year in Professional Darts but both Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson successfully defended their maiden crowns despite disappointing seasons, so I still make Cross a contender for the title given his ability and record on the stage.
Much more concerning, however, is his 1st round opponent. a 21 year-old Dutchman who will be suited by this fast pace and he has the ammunition to worry the defending champ. In any individual sport, as we have seen with Phil Taylor over the years, or at Tennis Majors or even the Crucible, the defending champion rarely puts in a strong showing the 1st round when defending champion. Its all about getting through, but with such a dangerous opponent who will be warmed up already having been on the stage, I sense an upset to catapult Darts into the Sporting limelight this weekend.
PREDICTION: ROB CROSS 2-3 JEFFREY DE ZWAAN