Only three days remain of World Championship darts and it’s really hotting up. With prime candidates for the title MVG and Phil Taylor making catastrophic early exits, the tournament has been completely opened up.
Gary Anderson is within striking distance of a second consecutive title, although ‘The Flying Scotsman’ has arguably the toughest quarter final opponent. James Wade has made a breeze of the first three round, dropping just a single set. Renown for his ferocious consistency, Wade is yet to land a World Championship title. Fighting his way past the defending champion would be a huge step in the right direction.
Raymond van Barneveld shocked the darting world with his outrageous victory over countryman Michael van Gerwen. The Dutchman’s finishing under pressure was sublime, a sign of the true champion. If he can replicate this sensational performance over Michael Smith I would have him down for a last four appearance. Unfortunately inexperience may go against BullyBoy this time round. The 25-year-old former Youth Champion is making his first appearance at this stage. In front of such a raucous, ear-crackling crowd at the Alexandra Palace I would expect to see the pressure mount on to the youngsters shoulders.
In possibly the most eye-catching clash of the session, Peter Wright faces an in-form Adrian Lewis. The latter has hit his purple match of his season at the perfect time. He is yet to drop a single set in the tournament, and his 103.52 average against Andrew Gilding in round two signalled his trophy winning intentions. Peter Wright battled through a scintillating tie with Dave Chisnall two days ago. Either player could be competing this evening, but it was ‘Chizzy’ who was sent packing. The loss was a harsh lesson on the St Helens man over 102 in a end to end match. The win will only give Wright the confidence to push on, but I feel Lewis’ power scoring will be too much for the Scotsman.
Alan Norris has upset the odds plenty of times in his career, but wins over Robert Thornton and Mark Webster top the bill. A semi-final impression in London could steer either player towards a coveted 2016 Premier League spot. The ably named ‘Chuck’ has hit 24 maximums and boasts an impressive 44% checkout rate, with both players being notorious big hitters it may come down to the wire, especially on the doubles.
Friday January 1 2016
Afternoon Session (1pm)
Alan Norris v Jelle Klaasen
Gary Anderson v James Wade
Evening Session (7.30pm)
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith
Adrian Lewis v Peter Wright