The fifth day of action at the PDC World Darts Championship continues with an evening session with some of the biggest names in the sport taking to the Alexandra Palace stage on Tuesday each looking to make progress in the marquee tournament.
Michael van Gerwen is the headline act taking to the stage on Tuesday evening and he will be expected to breeze into the third round. There are also a couple of world champions and some big talents on show on a good session of darts.
Steve Beaton vs Wessel Nijman
The opening match of the night pits experience against youth in what looks like an appealing clash as the former world champion Steve Beaton takes to a World Championship stage once again when he takes on the Development Tour star Wessel Nijman.
We haven’t really seen the crowd get involved in this tournament just yet but you sense they will do here as one of the darlings of a darts crowd in Beaton takes on a player who has already served a ban for match-fixing despite only being 23 years old. For all his muddy past, there is no doubting the talent of Nijman who has led the way on the Development Tour this season with his overall average at that level having the likes of Gian van Veen, Dylan Slevin and Keane Barry, each of whom we’ve seen perform well enough on this stage already, behind him as well as Luke Littler who everyone is rightfully raving about. There is no doubt that Beaton is below his best but with the crowd behind him and the experience of handling pressure on this stage you would imagine he’ll find it within himself to be competitive here even if he is behind in most legs. Nijman isn’t going to find it easy to hit doubles here so I see this being a prolonged match. Nijman has hit a lot of 180s and copious 95+ averages on the Development Tour this season so he is a worthy favourite but I don’t like taking players who are new to the pressures of being a favourite at this level. We have already seen Gian van Veen bomb out in similar circumstances in this event. The bet I do like though is over 7.5 180s. I don’t see this being a 3-0 match so if we get to four sets we need one 180 per player per set and these two should be good for that.
Mike De Decker vs Dragutin Horvat
The second match of the evening pits a couple of continental Europeans up against each other when the Belgian ace Mike de Decker takes on the German Super League winner Dragutin Horvat with the winner setting up a clash with Madars Razma in the second round.
He is the lowest seed of the lot so the winner of this one would have every chance of being back after Christmas which should add to the intensity of the contest. Horvat has been on the PDC Tour in the past and went well enough in the German Super League with averages around the 90 mark throughout the playoffs but you would imagine he’ll need a bit more than that to see off a De Decker who is beginning to find his way in the game. He has made a final and two semi-finals in the Players Championship in 2023 but he does come in here short of stage wins and having won just three of his last 12 outings in all competitions and the pressure of being the favourite might not sit fantastically with him. That sort of thing tends to manifest itself towards the end of legs though and initially I think he’ll be fine. De Decker is a relentless 180 hitter and I don’t think a 4.5 180 line is beyond him covering. Horvat should be competitive enough to keep sets close if not nick one or two which will give the Belgian enough legs to let the 180s flow. If Horvat does win a couple of sets we need one 180 from De Decker per set and even in a four set match it is only one each set with a bonus one on top. That all feels very likely to be in a match I still fancy De Decker to win but one where the situation might dictate it takes longer than he would like.
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Ricardo Pietreczko vs Mikuru Suzuki
In many ways the high profile match of the night is the penultimate game of the evening as the European Tour event winner Ricardo Pietreczko making his debut in the tournament when he takes on the second woman onto the stage this year in Mikuru Suzuki.
The German is seen as a dark horse for a deep run in this tournament and given that his compatriot Gabriel Clemens reached the semi-final with a similar profile last year it is understandable why that is the case but it is easy to remember that he is on debut here and while he won a European Tour event earlier in the year, he recently got absolutely walloped by Beau Greaves in the Grand Slam and there is a bit of a feeling that when he is good he is very good but when he isn’t on it he is very ordinary and he’ll certainly hope it is the former here. Suzuki probably goes under the radar these days because of the success of Greaves and Fallon Sherrock but she can play this game. She has been on this stage before where she took James Richardson to a deciding leg before bowing out so if Pietreczko allows her to hang around she will do. I don’t think that will happen but that Grand Slam match between the German and Greaves more than scares me enough to leave this one alone.
Michael van Gerwen vs Keane Barry
The one second round match on the night sees the former champion Michael van Gerwen beginning his quest for another world title when he takes on a first round winner in the form of Keane Barry, who could well feel he is free rolling from here.
I don’t think it is being too critical of Barry to suggest he was terrible in the opening round of the tournament. He aveaged 86.68 against Reynaldo Rivera, hit just one 180 and was 9/35 on his doubles. A lot of that was down to the pressure of being the overwhelming favourite to come through on the second night of the tournament and he won’t have any of that here but he will need a huge improvement to compete with MVG in this one. Van Gerwen loves this stage and the set play format suits him down to the ground but we’ve seen him have his issues with these opening matches in the past. He has nearly come a cropper to the likes of Rene Eidams in the past while Christian Kist, Jelle Klaasen, Alan Tabern and Ryan Murray have all taken a set from him in this round of the competition in recent years. That should give Barry some confidence if he can find his form that he might catch the Dutchman cold but even then MVG tends to always find a way and I think he’ll do that here too. It is too early to bet on him though.
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Back M.De Decker – Over 4.5 180s for a 3/10 stake at 1.95 with 888sport
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