The second round of the PDC World Darts Championship continues on Thursday night when four more matches take place over the course of an evening where eight players take to the Alexandra Palace stage looking to secure a return after Christmas.
With the first round out of the way the tournament is beginning to pick up some speed now and we have a nice mix of potential champions and rising stars on the schedule on what should be an entertaining evening of tungsten tossing.
Andrew Gilding vs Luke Littler
We actually begin with the most high profile match of the night as the UK Open champion Andrew Gilding goes in search of a place in the third round of the tournament for the first time when he takes on the new kid on the scene in Luke Littler.
Littler lit up this tournament on Wednesday evening when he ploughed in a 106 average on his debut in the event to send his odds for the title plummeting and have the bookmakers running scared. That was a standout display in circumstances you wouldn’t have expected it to come in but I think we should be careful about expecting that regularly. He is unlikely to average 106 here but what that showing does give him is enough wiggle room for an inevitable drop off to still be competitive in this game. Gilding comes here as the UK Open champion and if that doesn’t give him confidence nothing will. He hasn’t really pulled up trees on the TV since then although he did reach the knockout stages of the Grand Slam, only to lose to Stowe Buntz who has already fluffed his lines in this tournament. Clearly we will need the better side of Gilding for him to win this but there is a part of me that thinks he is overpriced at 3/1 to win this match. I certainly wouldn’t put anyone off taking that because this is going to be a whole different ball game for Littler but I think the better bet comes in the form of the youngster to find more than 5.5 180s. He hit seven in three sets against Christian Kist on Wednesday and you would think this would be more competitive which should give Littler plenty to time to plough in half a dozen more maxis.
Danny Noppert vs Scott Williams
The second match of the evening sees a former winner of the UK Open taking to the stage for the first time this year as Danny Noppert goes up against a Scott Williams who has already impressed at Ally Pally this week.
Noppert has been a little quiet by his standards in the big events in 2023 and probably could have done without facing a Williams with his confidence up in the opening match of his campaign. Williams didn’t really score like he can against Haruki Muramatsu in the first round but now that he is over that hurdle you would imagine he will relax and come up with the goods in this one. Noppert is solid but probably won’t blow too many away and his record on this stage is average having never gone beyond the third round so this feels like it could be a banana skin but with things to prove on the side of both men I’m happy to leave this alone and hope they can put on a show and add to the 180 line for my outright bet.
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Gabriel Clemens vs Man Lok Leung
The penultimate match of the evening sees the beaten semi-finalist of last year’s competition, Gabriel Clemens, taking on the man who everyone was talking about prior to Wednesday night in the Hong Kong star Man Lok Leung.
Leung was expected to be blown away by the exciting talent that is Gian van Veen in the opening round but he wasn’t interested in that script and instead he came from two sets down to win 3-2 with an absolute barrage of scoring. The Asian star could have won all five sets such was the quality he showed. Clemens could certainly have done without that. Prior to the Players Championship Finals he had been having a quiet year in the major tournaments. We have already seen Ryan Joyce kick on from a good run in Minehead though and Clemens will hope that he can do the same. He needs to because the style of Leung would suggest that performance in the opening round wasn’t a one-off and that he is more than capable of averaging 95 again. I wouldn’t put anyone off backing Leung but that Minehead run for Clemens just about puts my faith back in him so I would prefer to go down the 180 route here. The line is 8.5 and I don’t see this match not having four sets in it so in a four set match we are looking for a 180 each per set with one on top. That feels very likely to me.
Damon Heta vs Martin Lukeman
The final match of the night sees two players who haven’t really cracked it on this stage meeting when the Australian ace Damon Heta goes up against a Martin Lukeman who came through the first round with the minimum of fuss.
Lukeman has gone well on the European Tour stages in the past so we know he can handle himself here and had this been six months ago he might have really fancied this job because Heta just hadn’t performed on TV at that stage. In the last few events he has shown that he is settling onto the stage. He had an excellent campaign at the Grand Slam and the Players Championship Finals and is beginning to look a player who is settling into showing the form he has had on the floor in these big events. I think Heta will win this but Lukeman brings enough to the party to keep him interested for a bit longer than a straight sets battle. That makes me think the 180 line of Heta is attackable. It is 4.5 and in a four set match Heta is a good enough scorer for one per set and one on top. Heta hit four 180s in a straight sets win over Adrian Lewis at this stage last year. I think he’ll be made to work a little harder here so I’ll take him to add one more to his overall collection in this match.
Back L.Littler – Over 5.5 180s for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with William Hill
Back him here:
Back G.Clemens vs M-L.Leung – Over 8.5 180s for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with Spreadex
Back D.Heta – Over 4.5 180s for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with Spreadex