Justin Pipe v Andy Jenkins
Justin Pipe is a man on the up and I fancy him for the whitewash here. Pipe has only been on the circuit for a few years, and he found it tough in the early stages but all of a sudden things have clicked for him. He's won tour events and makes quarters, semis and finals regularly. The Somerset man is very slow and methodical and that technique seems to put his opponents out of their rhythm.
Jenkins can play but he's missed the last few World Championships and he's not quite where he once was. In contrast, Pipe is tuned-up and ready to go. He's a tough opponent, ultra consistent and rarely plays a bad game. He has to be the bet tonight.
Haruki Muramatsu v Dave Harrington
I'm leaving the betting for this prelim alone. Neither man looks much cop and I just don't have a strong fancy. But a word on the man awaiting the winner - Simon Whitlock. If The Wizard puts in a performance his tournament winner odds will tumble from the current [15.0] to single figures. And you have to think he will put on a show against the outsiders. No disrespect to either Muramatsu or Harrington but they are just unbackable against Whitlock. It's like me taking on Tiger Woods over 18 holes and beating him - it ain't gonna happen!
Ronnie Baxter v Dennis Priestley
This match is all about Dennis Priestley. He's in his 60s, is looking to retire from darts soon and only plays the minimum amount of tournaments, yet Dennis remains a class act. Three years ago my money would have been on him but not now. You've got to get with the man you can rely on and that is Baxter. As the more regular player of the two, Ronnie is more likely to bring his A-game.
Apart from the prelim, the betting here is the tightest of all the night's games. The market makes Baxter a clear favourite, but at [1.64] they are not totally convinced. I'm not either, but I have to make him the bet at those odds.
Colin Lloyd v Darin Young
Lloyd has to be the bet here, but I fancy the Big Daddy to pick up a set so we'll wade into the correct score market with a bet on my fellow Essex man to win 3-1.
Colin tends to go off the boil just for a couple of minutes when he's ahead and his American opponent is good enough to claim a set.