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World Darts Championship Preview
The Irish Darts Fan breaks down & predicts winners from Round 1 at the Alexandra Palace.
World Darts Championship
Round 1 Preview (Part 2)
Justin Pipe – Benjamin Pratnemer
Justin Pipe has had a resurgence in 2019, making a Pro Tour final and qualifying for the World Championship after missing out last year. Pratnemer, of Slovenia, was the surprise winner of the East Europe Qualifier, and also impressed earlier in the year, reaching the Last 32 of the World Masters. However, ‘The Force,’ should have way too much for the debutant.
Jose de Sousa – Damon Heta
Arguably the tie of Round 1, the Portuguese star De Sousa takes on the Australian revelation Heta, to take on Glen Durrant in round 2. De Sousa has come from nowhere to win his tour card before claiming 2 Players Championships titles within a month in 2019. Heta caused arguably the upset of the year, winning the Brisbane Darts Masters, beating James Wade, Gary Anderson, Simon Whitlock and Rob Cross en route. ‘The Heat’ has superb TV form, so could go close to causing a mini upset.
Ted Evetts – Fallon Sherrock
Ted Evetts is looking to finish the best season of his career in style, on the back of winning an unprecedented 8 Development Tour titles during the year. Fallon Sherrock was the star player in the UK/Ireland women’s qualifier, coming through quite comfortably. There will be a lot of focus on ‘Super Ted’ in this game, but if he can replicate his pro tour form, he should come through this game comfortably.
Ron Meulenkamp – Ben Robb
It’s been another impressive year for Ron Meulenkamp, reaching 4 Pro Tour semi-finals in 2019, but agonisingly failing to get over the line in any of them. Ben Robb came through a strong field in the DPNZ Qualifier, seeing off the likes of Rob Szabo and Warren Parry. However, Meulenkamp has had a very decent season, so should win here without too much discomfort.
William O’Connor – Marko Kantele
Limerick man Willie O’Connor has had an outstanding season, winning a Players Championship title, reaching the World Cup final and coming within a leg of the recent Players Championship Finals semi-finals. Marko Kantele won his tour card in January, but was quite disappointing on the Pro Tour, only qualifying via the Nordic and Baltic tour. O’Connor has discovered some excellent TV form in 2019, so is expected to set up a box office Round 2 tie with Gerwyn Price.
James Richardson – Mikuru Suzuki
One of the more eye-catching ties in Round 1, James Richardson, the man who shocked Van Barneveld on the same stage in 2012, is hoping to prevent a seismic shock against him, with Mikuru Suzuki the antagonist. Richardson claimed one of the final Pro Tour spots, but his 180 hitting is up there with the best, as long as he finds his consistency. Suzuki is, of course, the women’s world champion, but her Grand Slam displays were nothing out of the ordinary. Richardson should win, but Suzuki could very well give him a scare.
Harry Ward – Madars Razma
Harry Ward has had an excellent debut season on the Pro Tour, winning his maiden Players Championship title after coming through Q School on day 1. Madars Razma also won his tour card at Q School, but failed to find his best form on the Pro Tour, saving it instead for the Nordic and Baltic Tour, which he topped. Ward’s form tailed off slightly towards the end of 2019, so there is a good opportunity for Razma to win through on his debut.
Ross Smith – Ciaran Teehan
‘Smudger’ Ross Smith will be high on confidence, after defeating Michael van Gerwen in the recent European Championships. After just missing out on the World Matchplay, he will be hoping to bring his 2019 form to date to the big stage. Ciaran Teehan squeezed in via the Development Tour rankings by £50, and will be hoping to use the experience he gained from the World Masters (where he reached the quarter finals) to good use. However, Smith is in excellent form over the last 18 months, and is expected to win.
Kim Huybrechts – Geert Nentjes
It’s been a frustrating season for Kim Huybrechts, whose results have not matched the levels some of his performances deserved. Geert Nentjes made his debut at the World Championships, losing 3-0 to Nathan Aspinall, and has qualified again via the Development Tour, where he seems to play his best stuff. Huybrechts has had a better year on the Pro Tour, and has a lot of stage experience, so should have enough to come through this potential banana skin.
Steve Lennon – Callan Rydz
Steve Lennon has had a very inconsistent season, failing to find his feet on the Pro Tour, yet hitting top form on the world stage, partnering Willie O’Connor to the World Cup final. Newcastle man Callan Rydz has had a very decent season, winning the Challenge Tour with relative ease and also impressing on the Pro Tour when he got the chance. This game is almost a coin flip, but Lennon should get over the line if he can find his World Cup form again.
James Wilson – Nico Kurz
It was a very disappointing start to the year for James Wilson, but that has since been put down to a nasty eye injury affecting him. He has found a little bit of form in the latter part of the year, reaching a semi-final, and also beating Peter Wright in the recent Players Championship Finals. Nico Kurz has had an impressive 2019, winning the strongly contested German Superleague to qualify. Wilson has been very inconsistent, so an upset could be on the cards here.
Luke Humphries – Devon Petersen
The tie to look forward to on opening night, 2 men who played superbly this time last year clash in Round 1. Humphries has had well documented issues in 2019, yet has still played some decent darts, especially in winning the recent World Youth Championship. Devon Petersen performed brilliantly at the World Cup, but his Pro Tour form has not reached that same very high standard. This game has 5 sets written all over it, and it was the final set where Petersen thrived this time last year.
Rowby-John Rodriguez – Noel Malicdem
Austrian star Rodriguez has had a resurgence in 2019, making the most of the tour card he won via the Development Tour. A series of consistent results in the Players Championship events saw him squeeze into the 30th spot on the Pro Tour (with 32 qualifying). Malicdem is another of the Asian Tour stars, famous for hitting a 9 darter on the tour in 2018, and also impressing on his way to Round 2 last year. This is a tough game to call, and there is a good chance it will go all the way, but I’ll tip Malicdem to just about nick it.
Mickey Mansell – Seigo Asada
Mickey Mansell gained the final Pro Tour spot into the World Championships, but was handed arguably the toughest draw of all, against Japanese star Seigo Asada. Mansell has had a below par year by his standards, only reaching one quarter final, while Asada qualified via the Japanese qualifier, having also finished 3rd on the Asian Tour. Mansell has never won a game on the Ally Pally stage, and while it pains me to say it, I can’t see past Asada in this one.
Vincent van der Voort – Keane Barry
For many people, the tie of Round 1, experienced ‘Dutch Destroyer’ Van der Voort, takes on the 17 year old Meath man Keane Barry. Van der Voort is after his best season in years, qualifying for both the World Matchplay and World Grand Prix, and is in the right form to go on a run. Standing in his way is the Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay champion Barry, who has been extremely impressive in 2019. One thing for sure is this game will be rapid, with 2 very fast-paced players, but van der Voort should have enough to get through.
Raymond van Barneveld – Darin Young
In his final tournament before he retires, Raymond van Barneveld has been given a slight banana skin in CDC Tour winner Darin Young. Van Barneveld needs no introduction, but one Pro Tour final is not what he would have hoped for in his farewell season. Young has had an excellent year on the CDC Tour, and certainly doesn’t lack experience, having made his World Championship debut in 2005. Having said that, Barney is the class player, and should set up a box office Round 2 clash with Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Enjoy the World Darts Championship!