Bunting a worthy favourite
Carl Longhawn feels Stephen Bunting is a worthy favourite for the BDO World Darts Championship, while he's also backing a 50/1 shot.
- Related Content
The dust is still settling on Michael van Gerwen's victory in the PDC World Championship but there is yet more darts action upon us.
Attention has already turned to Frimley Green which plays host to the BDO World Championship, beginning this Saturday afternoon with the clash between Alan Norris and defending champion Scott Waites.
Waites, the 7/2 second favourite, will be hopeful of mounting a successful defence of his maiden world title.
He comes into the tournament on the back of a victory in the Czech Open, just as he did last year, although he was an early casualty in the Zuiderduin Masters which is a bit of a concern.
Overall, Waites doesn't make a lot of appeal given his price. He has a tough run to the final and a lack of competitive action during 2013 is also a worry.
The top half of the draw is dominated by the presence of 5/2 tournament favourite Stephen Bunting, who is without doubt the man to beat this year.
He won eight tournaments in 2013 and reached the final of three more. He retained his World Masters crown without dropping a set, a phenomenal achievement which had not been done previously. Even Eric Bristow in his pomp didn't come close to such an achievement.
As boring and predictable as tipping the favourite may be, it is very hard to see beyond Bunting this week and therefore he deserves to be backed.
His performance levels this year set him a mile apart from the rest of the field. In 18 matches in 2013 which have records available he has averaged 95.58. That figure puts him up with the best of the PDC players and while 5/2 isn't everyone's idea of a good price, I feel he should be significantly shorter.
Looking elsewhere, James Wilson is the leading seed in the bottom half and will be full of confidence following his victory in the aforementioned Zuiderduin Masters last month.
His form over the past 18 months has been a revelation and he shouldn't be underestimated. A concern would be that his lack of experience will count against him and he is probably short enough at 12/1 to be of interest.
Tony O'Shea is reportedly full of confidence coming into the event and few would begrudge him a world title. But he could face former champion Martin Adams first up in what would be a potential clash of the round. Adams has a preliminary encounter to overcome first.
As much my heart would lead me to tip O'Shea for success, the reality is that reaching a third final in succession will be a big ask, so he is swerved.
However, one player I am very keen to get keep onside in this section of the draw is Jan Dekker.
He has been extremely active in 2013 and has won two events as well as a PDC Challenge tour event.
Dekker completed his degree in the summer of 2012 and this has allowed him to devote more attention to his darts game and this has clearly had an impact. The number six seed performed with credit in the World Masters, narrowly losing in the last eight to James Wilson.
His Lakeside record is very good. He reached the semi-finals on debut in 2011, was eliminated by eventual winner Christian Kist in 2012 and last year reached the quarter-finals.
All things considered, odds of 50/1 look very big. His most successful year in darts could well be followed by a run to the final this week so I'm backing him each way.