The World Championships are back! After a short break for the Christmas festivities the world's best return to the Ally Pally oche as the big tournament comes to the crunch. Wayne Mardle runs through all of Thursday's games and he fancies heavy scoring from Dave Chisnall and Simon Whitlock in the opener...
Simon Whitlock v Dave Chisnall
My goodness, this game could produce a ludicrous amount of maximums!
In Chizzy we have a player who is fast becoming the most prolific 180 scorer in the game. If anything, he lets himself down on the doubles, and that's why I'm not going near the correct score or match odds markets.
In the opposite corner, we all know about The Wizard's quality, and for me, the bet here is over the 180s.
Gary Anderson v Raymond van Barneveld
Gary Anderson has very similar traits to Chisnall, and my betting will be tailored accordingly. Gary's form has picked up markedly recently and he's a contender again, as is the man he's playing.
Barney, the tournament third favourite, was in the darting doldrums for a long time. Winning on tour was easy enough but he lacked the confidence on the big stage. Then - bang! - he wins the Grand Slam of Darts just four weeks ago and has looked a world beater ever since.
Like the previous game I'm finding it difficult to predict a winner with any confidence and the Betfair markets are struggling to as degree - it's 1.768/11 Barney, 2.35/4 Anderson, the closest betting of all Thursday's games.
With two players in good form, my selection is over the 180s.
Adrian Lewis v Kevin Painter
Lewis, the reigning champ and two-time winner, is out of sorts at the moment. If he plays his best he wins the whole thing, but if he plays like he has of late, The Artist will turn him over.
This is too unpredictable, so it's no bet I'm afraid.
Michael van Gerwen v Colin Lloyd
Lloydy is my best pal on the circuit, but I can't side with him here.
Colin is a former world Number One, but even a return to that level of play may prove futile against a rampant MVG, who is in the form of his life, and not before time. In 2007 he was the pre-tournament favourite to win the BDO world championships. He's second favourite to win this tournament (behind The Power) and rightly so.
Wes Newton v Mark Walsh
Newton is on the cusp of a place in the top-four of the world rankings. That's some achievement when you consider the like of Barney, Hamilton and Whitlock are not.
I think Newton is dark horse for the title, he's a consistent performer at a very high level.
Walshie is a 'Steady Eddie', and if Newton plays just his average game against him he'll win in my opinion.
James Wade v Vincent van der Voort
If it's James day he'll take this match with ease, but in the months running up to the World Championships he's not been totally focused and has had his well-reported health problems. At this moment in time, James seems to have to take a lead or he appears to give up.
VvdV is a class act. A massive scorer, if he can hit his double at a rate of 40% ish I think he will win this game and at the prices I have to take a small chance on the Dutchman.
Back Over 16.5 180s in Chisnall v Whitlock @ 2.47/5
Back Over 18.5 180s in Anderson v Van Barneveld @ 2.68/5
Back MVG to win 4-1 @ 4.47/2
Back Newton to win 4-1 @ 4.57/2
Back van der Voort @ 3.613/5