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The fourth day of the 2017 PDC World Championships And it’s our second double-header of action from the Ally Pally. The afternoon session doesn’t look the most appealing session of darts, if I’m being honest, but the evening session looks like it could be one of the bet sessions we’ve seen so far, as the prelim between John Bowles and David Platt is for the right to face Phil Taylor, and we also have Daryl Gurney taking on Jermaine Wattimena as well as Alan Norris facing John Michael, both of which look tasty on paper and could be close. To be fair, the afternoon session does feature a couple of close ones potentially between Justin Pipe and Chris Dobey, and also Mark Webter against Joe Murnan. There doesn’t seem to be any real star power, though, which does tend to upset the crowd a little bit!
Kevin Simm vs Gilbert Ulang – Prelim Match
The first prelim match of the day, and we have one player we know a little bit about, and one unknown prospect. Kevin Simm has played on the Challenge Tour this year, after failing to win a Tour Card at Q School in January. He hasn’t done too much damage on the tour, but somehow made it to the final of the World Championship Qualifiers, where he lost out, but guaranteed himself a place in the prelim round. Gilbert Ulang, all we know about his, really, is what we know from the World Cup of Darts, and that he won the Philippines Qualifying Event.
Now, here’s the thing, I am trying to avoid the prelim matches for betting, but Ulang looks ridiculously over-priced here. Simm done well to make it to through the qualifying event, but apart from that he’s done next to nothing on the Challenge Tour. Ulang lost to Michael van Gerwen in the World Cup of Darts in January, but he managed to take two legs from MvG, which isn’t bad going considering the level he’s used to playing at. So, as a bit of value, take Gilbert Ulang to win purely for value’s sake. He’s played in front of the TV cameras, so it won’t be a surprise for him, unlike Simm.
Justin Pipe vs Chris Dobey
A tale of two seasons here, as Chris Dobey has started to make headway on the ProTour, while Justin Pipe has struggled to find any real form. These men have played each other once, which was back in May and Justin Pipe emerged the 6-4 winner.
This hasn’t been a great year for Justin Pipe. He had quite a bit of money to defend, especially in the Majors, but it just hasn’t worked out for him. To be fair to Pipe, he has had a much better second half of the season, as he didn’t make a quarter-final until May, but then he made three almost back to back, and then followed up in with a semi-final in October. He then had a decent stint at the Players Championship Finals, although it’s his home event, which does help, as he can sleep in his own bed of an evening. But the Taunton thrower looks to be coming back into a little bit of form just at the right time, which will no doubt please him. If he can keep that up, he could be hard to be, especially given how slow and precise his throwing is.
It’s been a huge year for Chris Dobey, and he had a bright enough start, qualifying for the German Masters and the European Matchplay. Dobey made the quarter-finals of the German Darts Masters, which was a nice way to start the year. He then went into the wilderness a bit until September, when he made the quarter-finals in Barnsley, and then made the final of the Players Championsihp event in October, where he lost to Simon Whitlock. However, it was at the Grand Slam of Darts where Dobey really burst onto the scene. He finished second in his group, beating Adrian Lewis and Scott Mitchell, then beat Jamie Hughes 10-9, averaging a decent 94.01 in victory.
Now, I like Chris Dobey, I do, but I think he’s far too short here at 4/5. Justin Pipe’s made a decent run at the end of the year and those quarter-finals will boost his confidence. Pipe has also won their only meeting, so it might just be that his throwing technique gets to Dobey, although we can’t know for sure. I have them down as 10/11 the pair, so odds-against for Justin Pipe is fantastic value, as far as I’m concerned. Justin Pipe to win is good value here, as I think the bookies have it wrong.
Mark Webster vs Joe Murnan
Another match that the bookies see as quite tight, and looking at the head to head between Mark Webster and Joe Murnan, you can see why. Webster has won three matches, Murnan has won three. In fact, Murnan has won the last three, while Webster hasn’t won a meeting since 2012. It shows how far Murnan has come since 202, while Webster hasn’t been anywhere near his World Championship-winning form.
It really hasn’t been a vintage year for Mark Webster. On the floor, he’s not made a semi-final since February, when he hit a purple patch, also making the quarter-final of the UK Open, after a quarter-final appearance in UK Open Qualifier 5. He does have another three quarter-finals to his name, but that really isn’t good enough for a player of Webster’s calibre. He’s just been to inconsistent this year, with some last 128 finishes peppered with some last 16 finishes.
Joe Murnan has only made one quarter-final this year, and has a lot of last 64 and last 32 finishes. That being said, Murnan looked good at the World Series of Darts Finals, although he did lose to Joe Cullen, as he averaged 93.38 in the 6-5 defeat. He’s just not managed to string a lot of decent performances in consistently, but has a good game on his day.
Like the previous match, I think this is going to be a lot closer than the bookies have it. Webster is around a 4/6 show, and again, I have this a lot closer, looking at the head to head and also just their form coming into this. While Webster is underperforming, Murnan is playing to the level we expect, so I think Webster’s confidence might also come into this. There’s definitely a shade of value to be had here backing Joe Murnan to win, because I think this is going to be a tight one, and I’m all about the value right now.
Ian White vs Simm or Ulang
Ian White was another one of the seeds I wanted to take on, and I still might, depending on show the winner of the prelim looks. I think White will be far too short here, and if Ulang or Simm put something together in the prelim, White is there for the taking. Don’t go looking to back White, but since we don’t know how Simm or Ulang are looking coming into this, I have to say, as you might expect, no bet for me on this one, but don’t be afraid to have a small wager on the prelim winner if they catch the eye.
John Bowles vs David Platt
This is perhaps the tastiest of all the prelim matches, as both men are experienced players, they’ve had experience in front of the TV cameras and both have played at the World Championship in the past. The difference is that while Bowles has had to travel from Widnes, Platt has had to come from Australia. Of course, they’ve never met in competition before, so we can’t do anything to compare the head to head, but the bookies see the ProTour experience of John Bowles as being the key to this, and have him as a 4/5 favourite.
I actually think the prices are about right here. David Platt looked in good nick at the Syndey Masters and Perth Masters, taking three legs off Gary Anderson and also off Adrian Lewis. Bowles has just had one of those years where he plods along, picking up a few quid here and there, but not doing too much damage. The value might just be in backing Platt, but I think the prices are about right, so it’s no bet for me.
Daryl Gurney vs Jermaine Wattimena
This one has the hallmarks of a classic here, as both youngster are coming into this tournament in relatively decent form, and it’s number 24 in the world against number 53 in the world, so not too much disparity between the rankings. The one thing worth noting is that Gurney has won all three meetings between the two, with their last meeting finishing 6-4 in favour of the Northern Irishman
.It’s been a good year for Daryl Gurney, all things considered. He was hampered by a hand injury, but he’s managed to make a fair few quarter-finals, a semi-final on the floor and at the World Cup of Darts, and he also made the final of the Dutch Darts Masters, which netted him a nice £10,000. Gurney has just been so consistent this year, and it’s hard to find fault in hims right now. Of course, and problems with his hand injury, as there is a concern that he hasn’t let it heal fully before getting back playing, and he might be in difficult, but there was no sign of that in the last couple of months.
Jermaine Wattimena, like Daryl Gurney, has been consistent this year, although he’s not been as prolific as his opponent. But he’s been making a lot of last 32 appearances, and has qualified for a lot of the European Tour events, which is seeing him get up the rankings. Wattimena had a huge 6-0 win over Joe Murnan in the Players Championship Finals, before losing 6-5 to Brendan Dolan. The key to his game is his finishing, as he’s not the highest scorer you’ll see, but he’s handy on the doubles.
I can’t see past Gurney here, as I think he’s poised to break into the top 16 soon enough, and if he can avoid any silly injuries to his hand again, he should have a huge 2017. There is no real value to be had in backing Gurney, but there is value on the highest checkout of the match. A the Players Championship Finals, Gurney hit a 146 in his opening round match, and Wattimena is going to need to take out a big finish or two to keep up with Gurney, so I think highest checkout over 121.5 is a solid bet at 5/6.
Alan Norris vs John Michael
Two players who are just starting out on their PDC journey, and, naturally, they have yet to face each other, but one has made a real impact already, while the other made an impact at the World Championship last year purely for his walk on. Yes, John Michael’s walk on was very memorable, while Alan Norris has caused people to sit up and take notice over the last 18 months since he defected from the BDO.
Norris has had a huge year, hitting two 9-darters, winning the German Darts Championship, and reaching another floor tournament final. He’s made a few quarter-finals to boot, and apart from from a poor spell in September/October, Norris has had a good season in the PDC. It’s his power scoring that gets him through, as he is a bit iffy on the doubles, but his scoring means he’s usually so far ahead that against slightly weaker opponents it’s enough to see him through.
John Michael won himself a tour card this year, after his debut in the World Championhip last year, where he won his prelim, but was beaten by James Wade 3-0. Michael is going to average somewhere in the mid 80s, you know what you’re going to get. He’s mostly played European Tour events this year and hasn’t set the world alight, so he’s not coming into this in spectacular form, but wining the South European Qualifying Event is no mean feat.
I think if Alan Norris can put in an average of 90+, he should win this comfortably. His scoring is going to be too powerful for John Michael, and he’s going to get plenty of chances at the doubles. However, the handicap line is -2.5, and John Michael might just nick a set, but then the odds aren’t exactly fantastic on that. However, I don’t think we’ll see too many legs, and if Norris can power away with it, there might not be many chances for a maximum-fest. Take under 7.5 180s as I think Norris, while a powerful scorer, might need to do this line on his own, as Michael isn’t going to be contributing much in the way of maximums.
Phil Taylor vs Bowles or Platt
I’m looking at Phil Taylor to go deep here, and it’s a plum draw for him to start his hunt for number 16. Neither Bowles nor Platt will be relishing the prospect of facing The Power in the first round, and it’s easy to see why, as it should be comfortable for Taylor. There is, of course, no value to be had in this one, so just it back and watch a master at work. No bet in the final match of the night.
I’ll be back with more free tips for day five of the 2017 PDC World Championship tomorrow, so enjoy the last double-header before Christmas.