As the first round draws to a close and Alexandra Palace prepares for Christmas we conclude a fantastic opening week with a wide array of darting talent. Two time World Champion Adrian Lewis has not hit the heights of 2012, but is still expected by many to celebrate his five year anniversary of his inaugural title with a merry conclusion to the season. If ‘Jackpot’ is to progress he will have to go through inexperienced Dutchman Jan Dekker. Despite making the leap of faith from the BDO just last year, the 25-year-old has made quite an impact. Three event wins on the challenge, a last 16 spot in the UK Open and a resurgence in the rankings, reaching number 88. However the match is played out, Lewis will know in Dekker he has a tough task on his hands.
Proceeding Dekker is national compatriot Jelle Klaasen. With swift throwing and that trusty 18, ‘The Cobra’ has become quite a force in the previous three majors. Throughout the past 12 months Klaasen has recorded to Pro Tour victories and an impressive Grand Prix and Players Championship quarter finals. In spite of his tendency to lapse in concentration the Cobra could strike his opponent Joe Cullen out of the tournament.
Benito van de Pas completes the trio of Dutch competitors. He is another name that has come on leaps and bounds in the past few months, reaching a quarter final of the Players Championship, eventually being knocked out by Daryl Gurney. The reset in the rankings could serve Big Ben admirably, in form the man from Tilburg could be a top 16 player, thus qualifying him automatically for a variety of majors. His opponent Max Hopp has outstanding pedigree for just 19 years of age. He reached the first round through the European order of merit, but was given leeway with his Youth Championship victory over Nathan Aspinall. Hopp is said to be the future of German darts, no German has ever reached the semi-finals of the big one, could it be their year?
Andrew Gilding and Gerwyn Price have had indifferent years on the circuit. The pinnacle of ‘Goldfingers’ campaign came back in March is the big man glided into the semi-finals. Compared to his adversaries erratic form, ‘The Iceman’ has lived up to his came and stayed cool under pressure to consistently reach the latter rounds of majors on his debut year in the top 64. Many have said this years World Championship Is unsurpassable by any others simply because of the amount of tight matches. With the outstanding amount of tight matches in the final session at the Ally Pally, this years tournament could be well out of sight.