Harrows Darts.

World Championship Preview Part One.
So, here it is. The first instalment of the World Championship preview blog sees section one of the first round in action. Players involved include Players Championship semi-finalist Danny Noppert, the only Japanese entrant in this years tournament Seigo Asada, as well as the first of two women competing at the Alexandra Palace this year, Anastasia Dobromyslova. 

Enjoy my ramblings, and don't forget to give me your thoughts and feelings in the comment section!

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Match One: Alan Tabern (10/11) vs Raymond Smith (10/11)

Tale of the Tape:
52 -Age- 38
28th Pro Tour -Qualification Route- DPA Order of Merit
20g Target -Darts Used- 22g Shot
1000/1 -Tournament Odds - 2000/1

The first match of the tournament is the very definition of a close call. Experienced campaigner Alan Tabern is making his World Championship return having not featured in any of the last 6 iterations of the tournament. The Saint has had a lean last couple of years, and even had to enter Q-School at the beginning of the year to save his tour card. Since then, however, he has shown some signs of form. After a nightmare run in the UK Open Qualifiers which saw him fail to get past the last 128 in any of his six attempts, Tabern qualified for the first European Tour event of the year, the German Darts Grand Prix. Heading into that tournament Tabern made the last 16 of two Players Championships, and went on to reach the same stage of the German Grand Prix itself. 

Tabern did go on to make the last 16 of another European Tour event, the German Open, and has reached the last 32 of a couple of other Players Championships. However, his form does seem to have waned the longer the year has gone on. Tabern failed to qualify for both the Grand Slam and the Players Championship finals, as well as losing in the last 128 during four of his last five Players Championship efforts. The Saint isn't in good form, and could have received a much kinder draw than tough Aussie Smith. 

Smith is a player who is enjoying a growing reputation within the PDC. A regular on the DPA circuit, Raymond won a total of five out of the 18 tournaments ran by the DPA, and would have won more had it not been for Corey Cadby. The most impressive form Smith has shown however, is in the PDC World Series. Despite not winning an event, he does have a very creditable win over PDC number 9 Michael Smith. Add to that a good win over Keegan Brown at the World Series finals, and a narrow loss to one of the best to ever play the game in Raymond van Barneveld in the second round, and you have an incredibly solid resumé. 

This one masquerades as a pick'em match as the odds suggest, but I actually don't think it will be as close as the bookmakers suggest. Tabern is faltering of late, and I think he becomes the first casualty from the Pro Tour contingent. Providing big stage nerves aren't too much of an issue for the debuting Raymond Smith, I think he should have too much for the St. Helens thrower. In what would be a minor, minor shock I think Smith takes this match by the comfortable score of 3-1. 

Prediction: Raymond Smith 3-1 Alan Tabern

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Match Two: Danny Noppert (2/7) vs Royden Lam (11/4)
Tale of the Tape:
27 -Age- 43
1st Pro Tour -Qualification Route- Asian Tour
23g Winmau -Darts Used- 21g Cosmo
250/1 -Tournament Odds- 2000/1

For me, this is the first real David and Goliath tie of the World Championship. And what makes it so is the form of young Dutchman Noppert. Danny Noppert arrives at Alexandra Palace as the number one seed from the Pro Tour Order of Merit. He is, in theory, the best player on the PDC tour outside of the top 32. And when you look at the list of names beneath him (which includes the likes of van der Voort, van den Bergh, and Robert Thornton) that is some achievement. 

What makes Noppert so dangerous is his consistency, not only in his performances but in his results. He may not smash in the highest number of maximums in the tournament, but will happily grind down opposition with a number of tons and 140's. A serial figure in the latter stages of most Players Championship events, Noppert managed to make the last 32 or better in half of the events in 2018, even picking up a title at Players Championship 20 in Ireland. Add to that good form on the European Tour which saw him make two semi-finals, and a run to the same stage of the recent Players Championship finals and Noppert is a frightening proposition. 

His opponent is another experienced campaigner in Hong Kong's Royden Lam. Lam has been plying his trade on the PDC circuit for a number of years now, largely focusing on events held in Asia. However, he isn't a stranger to big stage darts having competed in 2014 World Championship and competing for his Native Hong Kong in on numerous occasions in the PDC World Cup. 

Lam has had an okay year, securing his World Championship berth via the Asian Tour (a tour on which he won twice and reached the final on another two occasions) and competing in the World Series. In the Shanghai leg of the World Series, Lam produced a display good enough to see of twice World Champion Gary Anderson, despite averaging eight points less than the Scot. A comprehensive first round loss to Australia by a score of 5-1 also featured. 

Whilst there is no doubt that the Hong Kong player can cause an upset should he be allowed the opportunity, I just don't see Noppert being the kind of player to give out an early Christmas present. Lam is more than good enough to take a leg of two away from Noppert, but taking a set from the in-form Dutchman is another task entirely. And three may prove to be almost an impossibility. 

Prediction: Danny Noppert 3-0 Royden Lam

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Match Three: Simon Stevenson (6/5) vs Ted Evetts (4/6)

Tale of the Tape:
46 -Age- 21
24th Pro Tour -Qualification Route- Development Tour
23g Bristows -Darts Used- 23g Bulls
1000/1 -Tournament Odds- 1000/1

One of the closest contests of the entire round. I really could make a case for this finishing 3-0 to Stevenson, 3-0 to Evetts and every possibility between the two. One thing I think is for certain is that we're in for a cagey affair when these two clash on the big stage. This pairing sees a consistent performer on the Pro Tour face a serial winner on both the Youth and Development Tours, with one key similarity: both are yet to show what they can do on the big TV stage. Not only that, but neither have particularly fond memories of Alexandra Palace to look back on. Stevenson's only previous appearance in the tournament came back in 2017 when he lost 2-1 in a prelim to Zoran Lerchbacher averaging a little over 85, whilst Evetts' last appearance was in a 3-0 loss to Gerwyn Price in 2017. 

Stevenson has enjoyed a solid year on the PDC tour, qualifying for multiple European Tour events as well as consistently appearing in the last 16 and last 32 rounds of Players Championship events. And yet despite his apparent consistency, Stevenson has consistently failed to make the most of his starts in tournaments, reaching just one semi-final all year. 

Evetts, in comparison, has enjoyed a very prolific 2018. Whilst not winning on the Pro Tour, SuperTed has managed multiple wins on both the Challenge and Development tours, winning twice and three times respectively. Evetts finished third in the overall Development Tour rankings for 2018, a whole £200 behind both Luke Humphries and Dimitri van den Bergh, which keeps him in very good company. And whilst there is no doubt that Evetts has what it takes to cross the finishing line, it remains to be seen just how well he is at handling the big occasions. 

And for me, that's what makes this particular match such a good draw for Ted. The Pro Tour rankings are littered with competitors that have been there and done it all on multiple occasions, and Stevenson is one of very few who does not fit that particular description. That's why Evetts wins this match, because he has won before. He has won recently. And whilst it may be on the main tour, a win is a win in a PDC-run tournament. Look for this one to be close, look for this to be edgy, but look for the youngster to come through in the end. 

Prediction: Ted Evetts 3-2 Simon Stevenson 

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Match Four: Matthew Edgar (1/1) vs Darius Labanauskas (4/5)

Tale of the Tape:
32 -Age- 42
32nd Pro Tour -Qualification Route- Nordic & Baltic
23g Red Dragon -Darts Used- Cosmo 
1000/1 -Tournament Odds- 750/1

Matthew Edgar is the Lucky Loser of the World Championship field in that he only secured his spot at Alexandra Palace as a result of Corey Cadby's ongoing VISA issues. The 33rd ranked player on the Pro Tour Order of Merit, Edgar replaces the UK Open finalist and will be hoping to make the most of his opportunity when he takes on tough Lithuanian player Darius Labanauskas. 

Having said that, Matthew only secured his spot after doing enough to reach 33rd in the rankings, which is no mean feat. Another player to have regained his tour card in this year's Q-School, Edgar started the year with back-to-back last 16 efforts in the UK Open Qualifiers, before going on to reach the last 32 of that tournament. He has also had relative success on both the Pro and European tours, reaching the last 16 of a Players Championship and a Euro Tour event in Germany. He also boasts a number of individual successes having beaten the likes of Ian White in Players Championship matches. 

Despite the solid year that Edgar has had, bookmakers make him the outsider for this particular match, and that's an understandable decision. Darius is as solid as they come, and his form this year is relatively spectacular. Despite the lack of genuine quality opposition on the Nordic & Baltic tour that he plays on regularly, Darius has gone on to win five events this year, making another two finals, and has multiple semi and quarter final appearances to his name. Add to that wins in both the Lithuanian & Latvian Opens and you have a pretty impressive CV. Darius is also a mainstay in the BDO, having featured in the last four versions of their World Championship, and participating in one of the best matches ever seen on the Lakeside stage against Glen Durrant in 2017. 

All being all, Edgar is a solid player, but he shouldn't be on the level of Labanauskas. Expect this one to be a relatively edgy affair early on in the piece, but I think Labanauskas' experience shows through eventually. Labanauskas pulls through and Matthew Edgar becomes the third player from the Pro Tour OoM list to be eliminated in the first round. 

Prediction: Darius Labanauskas 3-1 Matthew Edgar

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And whilst I know you guys were expecting to see eight games featured in this particular post, I feel like I need to call it there. I underestimated just how long it would take to put these posts together, and if I don't get this one published soon I won't get it published today at all. Consider this first blog post a test. Let me know your thoughts and feelings on post length, how informative you think I'm being, and any tips on how you think I can improve. Hopefully you guys enjoyed reading, and I'll see you tomorrow for another dose of World Championship goodness (or maybe even a double dose if I can get things organised). 
Reply
A very good read, you've clearly done your research.  And I enjoy your writing style as well.  I think the length at 4 matches is just about right.  8 matches might make it a bit laborious to get through, although more than willing to give it a try.  Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images.

Very well done Leon, +1...

Edit: This effort is worthy of the PDC News room as mc1958 mentioned previously.  So have taken the liberty of moving it - cheers!
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An enjoyable read, thoughtfully put together +1

Hope you're right about Raymond. I guess nothing prepares you for the Ally Pally stage but here's hoping his increasing experience from the World Series Events and Final plus BDO events like the Winmau and Lakeside Worlds will stand him in good stead.

Darts: Harrows Glen Durrant Duzza Series 2 24g, short Harrows Supergrip shafts, Harrows flights (Marathon/Retina/Optix/Rapide) 


Best 501: 13 darts (League), 14 darts (Pro Darter)

Best Checkout: 154 (League), 160 (Pro Darter)
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(12-04-2018, 01:51 AM)nixer55 Wrote: A very good read, you've clearly done your research.  And I enjoy your writing style as well.  I think the length at 4 matches is just about right.  8 matches might make it a bit laborious to get through, although more than willing to give it a try.  Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images.

Very well done Leon, +1...

Edit: This effort is worthy of the PDC News room as mc1958 mentioned previously.  So have taken the liberty of moving it - cheers!

I appreciate the kind words. And I totally understand what you mean about doubling the length of these posts; I'm still playing around with the format, and might just talk about the matches as they develop in real life as opposed to fantasy booking. I really am undecided on the whole thing, but I'm glad you're in for the ride.

(12-04-2018, 03:03 AM)Banz Wrote: An enjoyable read, thoughtfully put together +1

Hope you're right about Raymond.  I guess nothing prepares you for the Ally Pally stage but here's hoping his experience from the World Series Events and Final plus BDO events like the Winmau and Lakeside Worlds will stand him in good stead.

Again, I appreciate the kind words. As for Smith, I really do think he has the potential to do a lot of damage in the big tournaments. His darting ability combined with his steely nature make him a really difficult prospect. It's just a shame that he has a certain Green Machine to deal with in the second round of this tournament should he win.
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(12-04-2018, 04:40 AM)leon0677 Wrote:
(12-04-2018, 03:03 AM)Banz Wrote: Hope you're right about Raymond.  I guess nothing prepares you for the Ally Pally stage but here's hoping his experience from the World Series Events and Final plus BDO events like the Winmau and Lakeside Worlds will stand him in good stead.
As for Smith, I really do think he has the potential to do a lot of damage in the big tournaments. His darting ability combined with his steely nature make him a really difficult prospect. It's just a shame that he has a certain Green Machine to deal with in the second round of this tournament should he win.

I guess the time to get MvG is early and I don't think players fear him as they may have done a couple of years ago. He (MvG) is obviously going to be up for this as we can guess how desperate he is to win WC number 3. I think set play can be a bit more forgiving than leg play at times but the draw could have been kinder I guess!

He'll have a few people backstage hoping he can get up though!

Looking further down the draw I can see me having to set an alarm if Kyle and G Price meet in the round 2...

Darts: Harrows Glen Durrant Duzza Series 2 24g, short Harrows Supergrip shafts, Harrows flights (Marathon/Retina/Optix/Rapide) 


Best 501: 13 darts (League), 14 darts (Pro Darter)

Best Checkout: 154 (League), 160 (Pro Darter)
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I agree with the above replies, very well researched and put together making a highly enjoyable read. Looking forward to the next instalment - one of the easiest +1's I've ever given
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Good stuff! Hoping to see Smith do well
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Good read. I do wonder what you are going to write about Sedlacek :-)

Just one thing. With previews like this you will spoil the prediction comp (if there's going to be any) because anyone who would bet against your tips would be silly .-) Everything you wrote made a sense to me.

+1
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Great post Leon, certainly deserves a +1 Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images.
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Thanks for posting, it was a very good read. Thoroughly researched as well. My predictions would actually be very similar. Looking forward to more posts
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(12-04-2018, 06:13 AM)Banz Wrote:
(12-04-2018, 04:40 AM)leon0677 Wrote:
(12-04-2018, 03:03 AM)Banz Wrote: Hope you're right about Raymond.  I guess nothing prepares you for the Ally Pally stage but here's hoping his experience from the World Series Events and Final plus BDO events like the Winmau and Lakeside Worlds will stand him in good stead.
As for Smith, I really do think he has the potential to do a lot of damage in the big tournaments. His darting ability combined with his steely nature make him a really difficult prospect. It's just a shame that he has a certain Green Machine to deal with in the second round of this tournament should he win.

I guess the time to get MvG is early and I don't think players fear him as they may have done a couple of years ago.  He (MvG) is obviously going to be up for this as we can guess how desperate he is to win WC number 3.  I think set play can be a bit more forgiving than leg play at times but the draw could have been kinder I guess!

He'll have a few people backstage hoping he can get up though!

Looking further down the draw I can see me having to set an alarm if Kyle and G Price meet in the round 2...

The draw absolutely could have been kinder. Although I think if Tabern manages to get past Smith then he gets absolutely smashed off the board.

One of the things that makes this years tournament so interesting for me is that the top 32 are coming into their first games cold, whereas their opponents already have their feet in the door so to speak. I actually think we might see more shock first round defeats this year than ever before.

(12-04-2018, 06:24 AM)mc1958 Wrote: I agree with the above replies, very well researched and put together making a highly enjoyable read.  Looking forward to the next instalment - one of the easiest +1's I've ever given

Thank you, brother. It's nice to receive such positive feedback, and I look forward to getting the next part up for you a little later on.

(12-04-2018, 01:40 PM)elevendarter Wrote: Good read. I do wonder what you are going to write about Sedlacek :-)

Just one thing. With previews like this you will spoil the prediction comp (if there's going to be any) because anyone who would bet against your tips would be silly .-) Everything you wrote made a sense to me.

+1

Haha, you'll find out what I have to say about Karel in part two! I really appreciate the kind words, and who knows, maybe my 'knowledge' of the game could win someone a little something over Christmas. But you can bet your ass I'll be entering any kind of prediction competition.

(12-04-2018, 02:11 PM)Getagrip Wrote: Great post Leon, certainly deserves a +1 Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images.

Making a good impression on the moderators too? Does life get any better than this? Appreciate the kind words, my man.

(12-04-2018, 03:19 PM)Phenohyte Wrote: Thanks for posting, it was a very good read. Thoroughly researched as well. My predictions would actually be very similar. Looking forward to more posts

Thank you very much! I do try and be as knowledgeable on the subject as I can. You think Stevenson goes first round too? That was one I really struggled with when writing.
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Part two is now live. Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images.
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Just getting caught up on this, well done Leon and a definite plus one from me. Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images.
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Very informative post, many thanks.
Kevin a.k.a. "Sniper".  Guests cannot see images in the messages. Please register at the forum by clicking here to see images.
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