Round One is dead, long live Round Two – as the French would say. Thursday’s spectacular array of matches brought to an end a vastly entertaining first round, with more shocks than any other year. Now though we advance into the 2nd round, with Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld and Peter Wright all looking to book their place in the last-16 on Day 8 of the Darts.
Peter Wright vs Per Laursen
In the first game of the second round, ‘Snakebite’ Peter Wright takes on Denmark’s Per Laursen. In the first round it was Laursen who had to overcome the biggest test. After beating Colin McGarry in a qualifier, Laursen, making his third appearance in the last-32, performed well to overcome a spirited performance against Terry Jenkins, winning 3-2. Peter Wright meanwhile had an altogether easier match against Joe Cullen, emerging victorious with a 3-0 win with an impressive 98.68 average. Ranked 15th in the world and a Semi-Finalist at the UK Open earlier in the year, Wright should have enough in his locker and certainly in his wardrobe to overcome Laursen who’s making his first appearance at a Major since 2012.
Head to Head: N/A.
Wright to Win: 1/7 (William Hill)
Laursen to Win: 6/1 (SkyBet)
Raymond van Barneveld vs Jamie Caven
Even with 2013 being a far better year for Barneveld, the Dutchman will be cursing his luck having been landed with an extremely difficult second round tie against Jamie Caven. Despite not being at his best in the 1st Round, Caven managed to get the better of the high scoring Jelle Klaasen, progressing through with a 3-1 win and an 87.03 average. Barneveld however had no such trouble in seeing off Welsh youngster Jamie Lewis, racking up 98.56 average and hitting six 180’s en route to a convincing 3-0 victory. A European Championship Quarter-Finalist, Caven will provide an altogether different test against Barneveld, winner of the Irish Players Championship just over a month ago.
Head to Head: Barneveld 3-1 Caven
Barneveld to Win: 1/3 (PaddyPower)
Caven to Win: 11/4 (Ladbrokes)
Phil Taylor vs Michael Smith
The final game of the evening should, in theory, be the most straightforward, as 16-time Champion of the World Phil Taylor takes on the up and coming Michael Smith. It’s no exaggeration to say that in his first round match, Taylor barely scraped through against qualifier Rob Szabo. After losing the first set, Taylor fought back to win the next three with extreme difficulty, ultimately recording a 3-1 victory, but with a remarkably poor doubles success rate of just 34%. His opponent this evening, Michael Smith, can also be accused of being lackadaisical in the first round, squeezing past Japanese qualifier Morihiro Hashimoto 3-1. The World Youth Champion will have to vastly improve on his 76.69 average and doubles success rate of just 20% if he is to stand any chance against the tournament favourite.
Head to Head: Phil Taylor 5-0 Michael Smith.
Taylor to Win: 1/33 (BetVictor)
Smith to Win: 35/1 (Betfair)
(Previews will return to The Sports Planet as soon as the site sorts out its technical difficulties.)