The second and third rounds of the Players Championship Finals will be completed today and Abigail Davies expects Ryan Searle to make it through...
"Searle’s sublime in-game facial expressions often let you know what he thinks of his darts and there were some fantastic grimaces when his darts landed either side of the 20 segment."
Gerwyn Price is still favourite to lift the trophy on Sunday at 10/3. Winner of four Players Championship events this year, Peter Wright, is available at 9/1 to be crowned champion.
It took a while for the opening day to spark into life with some below par performances from players including Ryan Searle, Krzysztof Ratajski and Michael Smith, with many attributing their slow start to the cold conditions on stage.
Ryan Searle's finishing left a lot to be desired in his opening match against Simon Whitlock, missing 17 darts at a double in the best of 11 match.
It was a scrappy encounter, neither gave a great account of themselves but if Searle can up his game and play somewhere near his best, he has a great chance of progressing past the second round for the first time and also coming through his quarter of the draw.
Searle's sublime in-game facial expressions often let you know what he thinks of his darts and there were some fantastic grimaces when his darts landed either side of the 20 segment.
Heavy Metal has set up a meeting with Ryan Joyce in the second round.
Relentless isn't quite playing as well as he did during his run at the 2019 World Championship but it's great to see him winning matches in televised tournaments again.
I can't see Searle putting in another poor performance in the second round and think he will come out on top with a handicap of -1.5 at 4/6.
Ross Smith eases through
There's a lot to like about Ross Smith. He's not flash, an understated black shirt with plain white flights on his darts these days, he just gets up on stage and gets the job done.
Of course I'm a fan of the flamboyance of Peter Wright and the exuberance of Gerwyn Price but I'm a huge fan of Smith and the way he conducts himself.
The 32-year-old won his maiden PDC title at Players Championship 19 in July, he is improving all the time and is very exciting to watch.
Smudger comfortably came through 6-2 against one of the favourites for this weekend's World Youth Championship, Rusty-Jake Rodriguez, with an average just shy of a ton and an impressive 66.67% success on doubles.
He faces Luke Humphries on Saturday afternoon and Smith will certainly fancy his chances against a player who took a while to get going in his opening match. Wasteful with chances at the end of legs but a superb spell in the middle of the match helped Humphries towards the finish line and reminded the crowd just why he is favoured to become a major PDC champion one day.
Cool Hand Luke will certainly need to up his game on day two and improve on his 93.78 average.
The bet that stands out to me is Ross Smith to win with a handicap of -1.5 at 7/4.
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