A couple of former world champions look great prices to progress to the second round
After a couple of eye-catching displays at the Grand Slam of Darts, Keegan Brown has gained legions of new fans and has been immediately cast as one of the stars of the future. That may well be the case but this is his World Championship debut and he is taking on a three-time world champ in John Part.
The Canadian legend might have struggled this year and is coming towards the end of his great career, but he is still capable of brilliance and is very well used to performing on the biggest stage. Brown may have raised eyebrows at the Grand Slam but he has struggled on the main tour in general this season and looks far too short for this one at his odds-on 2/5 price.
Part comes in at a very tempting 7/4 and Darth Maple looks too good to turn down at that price. He will have practiced hard ahead of a trip to the Alexandra Palace and nothing will faze him on that giant stage; the former can be said about Brown, but not the latter.
Also on the opening night is a complete 50-50 affair between two Dutch former world champions in Jelle Klaasen and Christian Kist. Picking a winner is tough but offers good value and I think Klaasen is your man in this one.
Kist has had the better year of the two on the tour, but Klaasen looks to be coming into some decent form at the right time. He reached the quarter-finals of the European Championship in October and turned in an immense display, averaging nearly 109 in defeating James Wade at the Players Championship Finals last month. He looks the better bet at 9/10 than Kist who is making his debut on the Ally Pally stage.
In terms of big first round wins, there are often less than expected, despite big names taking on relative unknowns over three sets. There will be some, though, and backing the right player with a -2.5 handicap will prove profitable. The man for the job in this market is Terry “The Bull” Jenkins who takes on Australian debutant John Weber.
The Ledbury veteran has been playing really well this year, especially on the big stage tournaments, even knocking Michael van Gerwen out of a couple of majors. He is going to have far too much for the inexperienced Aussie and should see him off pretty comfortably, looking good to win 3-0 at 9/10.
There should be no giants slain at the first stage this year with the likes of Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis in testing but not worrying contests. Whilst some fringe contenders may be sobbing into their turkey this Christmas, the heavy-hitters will all still be involved come the second round.