Saturday's Tour Players preview from Rod Harrington
Today sees the last 16 of the Tour Players championship in Minehead and already we have see some shock results.
Steve Beaton came up trumps with a great performance over Raymond Van Barneveld and the young, up and coming Michael Smith came through an edgy game when beating the fancied Ian White. Also an out of sorts James Wade lost to the Irishman Brendan Dolan. Today the format goes up to the best of 19 and that tends to lend itself to the favourite of the pairing, however as we keep mentioning the standard is so good now anything can happen.
First up sees the local man Justin Pipe take on Brendon Dolan and although Dolan beat James Wade I can't use too much of that performance in judging this contest as it was a very below par Wade that he beat. Pipe played really well in his defeat over Colin Osborne, the average could have been alot higher if not for a few missed doubles which tends to be a trait of Pipe in his first round games on TV. This is a Pipe win for me 10-6 or 10-7. Most 180's goes to Pipe here also.
Wayne Jones' defeat of the well fancied Dave Chisnal will give him plenty of confidence in his match against Peter Wright. Wright did beat Colin Lloyd, however the statistics say that it was not the best they both have thrown. Although Wright has been playing really well this year I have got to go with Jones. Normally he is hard to back as he losses alot of games where you feel he should win, however he has his back up against the wall in the rankings and needs the win. Jones for me on this one again 10-6 or 10-7.
Next up sees the abundant talent of Michael Smith take on the very consistent Kim Huybrechts and although Smith has won two tour events, whereas Huybrechts is yet to do so, I have just got to go with the leg-on-leg power that Huybrechts has over Smith at the moment. He just seems to get the job done when push comes to shove and I feel that he will win the messy legs when Smith misses doubles. Huybrechts win here. 10-5 or 10-6 Highest shot out to Huybrechts also.
Last match up in the afternoon session is a cracker between the two Scotsman Gary Anderson and Robert Thornton and no question this will be a tight encounter. Anderson is suffering with a knee problem which was apparent on TV yesterday and for that I'm going with Thornton to nick this one. Thornton is in the form of his life and played really well when beating a tough opponent in Mark Walsh 6-1 and although Anderson overcame Wes Newton I just feel that the knee may be feeling sore this morning. Thornton to win, however I would not lay big money on this one as the talent that Anderson possesses is frightening sometimes. Over on the legs and 180s in this game.
The evening session also starts with another cracking game when the man of the moment Michael van Gerwen takes on one of my favourite Players in Andy Hamilton. There is no question that the form and confidence Van Gerwen has at the moment is going to be hard for anyone to handle and his overall game should see him win this one. The flaw that he does have is missing doubles as he showed against Barney in the Grand Slam final; if he misses any today then the Hammer is the man that will make him pay for it. The grit and determination that Hamilton naturally has wins him games that others don't but I feel he will be chasing Gerwen from the start and that may just wear him down come the end. Very hard to call the score here but a Van Gerwen win. Could be alot of 180s here so get on over.
Simon Whitlock overcame a very on form Jamie Caven and his leg-on-leg power should see him win his match against Ronnie Baxter. Baxter is another one like Hamilton where he does not no how to give up and when beating Paul Nicholson he showed some awesome darts. Whitlock has the form for me on this one and that gets the call. Also Whitlock on the 180s and highest checkout.
This next match is normally saved for semis or finals and the crowd and TV are in for a treat when Phil Taylor takes on the current World Champion Adi Lewis. This call for me should be an easy one, Lewis has not been playing that well this year combined with the fact that his wife may have had the baby by the time he gets on the stage. If she has then Adi will feel that he should be with her and the concentration might not be there, and who can blame him for that. Taylor on the other hand will just play the dartboard and he will want to show everyone that he is still the boss. Phil feels he has something to prove with some people starting to write him off. This is a win for Taylor. Other markets on this game are very hard because of the situation of the birth of Adi's child - not an excuse a fact.
Last game of the 16 round sees Steve Beaton playing Mervyn King. Beaton played brilliantly when beating Barney and the stats say he should win this. He will have the crowd on his side big time so that could be the biggest factor especially when King is going for doubles. King overcame a tough game when beating Terry Jenkins and is playing the best I have seen him for a couple of years and normally I would back him here, however I feel the crowd will play a horrible part in the outcome. Form and crowd say Beaton, however a game that does not get any of my money on the outcome, however over on the legs is a get on - so is are the 180s markets.