Sunday sees the return of World Champion Raymond van Barneveld to the Alexandra Palace stage. Barney has enjoyed a recent return to form in Novembers cluster of majors, it could’ve been dramatically different should the Dutchman have continued his terrible form from earlier in the year. Barney faces the task of dismissing fellow Dutch compatriot Dirk van Duijvenbode. The so called ‘Titan’ reached the last 32 stage of last months European Championship but bowed out in 6-3 defeat to Michael Smith. The 24-year-old will need to be at the pinnacle of his game if he is to join Michael van Gerwen in the second round.
The afternoon session sees former finalist Andy Hamilton take on Bolton boy Joe Murnan. Murnan has proved to be one of the merging talents from this years Pro Tour and second round appearance could propel him into the top 32. Next, this years surprise package Mensur Suljovic takes the stage in front of a crowd that has really warmed to his lets say ‘laid back’ style, over the last 12 months. The big Austrian has reached semi-finals of the Players Championships and World Grand Prix this campaign. A good showing in London could put the Cherry on the cake.
It is now two years since Stephen Bunting won the Lakeside World Championship. Since that magical night the Bullet has endured a maturing phase, Premier League survival, but no major semi-final, could this be Bunting’s year?
Amongst the qualifiers is the once formidable Paul Lim. For those of you who don’t know, Lim was the first player to achieve the feat of a nine-darter and has been throwing for over 30 years at a professional level. Now at the grand old age of 61, the ‘Singapore Slinger’ will Aleksandr Oreshkin to face Mervyn King in the first round.
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
Michael Rasztovits v Rob Szabo (P)
Andy Hamilton v Joe Murnan
Mensur Suljovic v Jermaine Wattimena
Jamie Caven v Rasztovits/Szabo
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Aleksandr Oreshkin v Paul Lim (P)
Stephen Bunting v Jyhan Artut
Raymond van Barneveld v Dirk van Duijvenbode
Mervyn King v Oreshkin/Lim