THE beginning of a double session today sees PDPA qualifier Brendan Dolan in action against Alan Ljubic after winning the Eastern Europe Qualifier in ever-growing popularity in the Baltic states.
Jeff Smith of Canada, who has played in a PDC event before makes his debut on the Alexandra Palace stage having chosen to compete at this event over the BDO code where he had previously made the final in recent years and can potentially be a first round threat to former two-time champion Gary Anderson if Smith wins his prelim.
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
- Brendan Dolan v Alan Ljubic (P)
- Benito van de Pas v Steve West
- Mervyn King v Zoran Lerchbacher
- Robert Thornton v Brendan Dolan/Alan Ljubic
The game certain of the afternoon in my eyes is the Pas/West game as Benito has not had the best of years on the circuit whereas similar could be said for Steve West whose resurgence in Autumn 2015 has seen Westy as a considerable threat at times and will give Pas a match.
Big Ben is the marginal favourite hear just above the 8/13 mark with West attractive at 6/4. Benito’s lack of maximums is where West can powerscore although the Belgian is fairly effective on his cover shooting.
West will need to fly out the blocks and take the first set to stun the Belgian and wouldn’t put anyone off at 11/10 to see Steve win this with Bet365 and Skybet.
The Englishman is 1/1 with ladbrokes to win the maximum count by two or more or 4/9 generally to win the count without the Handicap.
Admittedly games prices relatively close in some eyes may bring longevity to the game and this is where considerations of the checkout line come into play. With the line set at 122.5 with Marathonbet considering the player checkout line (111 – Pas and 107 West) you may find better value on nominating a player to hit a more common three dart combination at the same price.
Merv King should be too much for Zoran Lerchbacher with the former major finalist having the best over the Austrian and has a 2-0 record in favour of King, both in 2017.
Lerchbacher has enjoyed some success on the European Tour, but over the longer format King is well healed to the set format and will do his usual prep and routine. I think King -1.5 sets is a fair price at 13/10 with 888 sport and Unibet especially considering King’s work ethic.
A Thornton/Dolan matchup in the finale could see Dolan stun the Thorn, however must see off Alan Ljubic in the prelim.
Evening Session (7pm)
- Jeff Smith v Luke Humphries (P)
- Joe Cullen v Jermaine Wattimena
- Jelle Klaasen v Jan Dekker
- Gary Anderson v Jeff Smith/Luke Humphries
The evening session kicks off with Jeff Smith, who has Luke Humphries in the opening best of three. The reputation of Smith sees him the worthy favourite and will attract plenty of 2-0 backers in the process around the 6/4 mark.
Joe Cullen should see off Jermaine Wattimena in the next game as the odds suggest. The former postman has been there or there about’s over the years and is Premier League material with his style of play. The Rockstar could well be in contention for a place with my feeling the Premier League could provide us with 2-3 newer faces in the mix but will need to raise the eyebrows of the selection panel.
Cullen is fairly strong on the maximums and depending on how long the game is anticipated should weigh up the 4/11 on most maximums and 4/6 to win by 2 or more. Paddy go 11/10 for the rockstar to win by 3 or more which is potentially too risky to consider.
The 5/6 on Cullen to net a 111 or better checkout is a consideration.
Jan Dekkar could upset the seedlings with his matchup versus Jelle Klaasen in the penultimate game. The Cobra has had a below par second part of 2017 which has seen first round exits in many events. Opponent Jan Dekkar, to those that are unfamiliar was a BDO regular before making the jump across. Dekkar’s 2017 admittedly a tricky one on the circuit made the quarter final of the pro tour finals a few weeks back and has the pedigree to play against the elite, which bookmakers are making a shade under 2/1 underdog.
I looked at the maximums here as when Klaasen is on song he can be as good as the next player. Double Decker is also reputable on this and layers have marked up 7.5 as the line. I’d be willing to take on Dekkar to land three or more maximums which Skybet has chalked at 8/11 is acceptable