The second round of the Betfred World Matchplay begins on Tuesday night so check out our match-by-match predictions, best bets and a suggested acca.
Tonight's all-Welsh affair is probably the most eagerly awaited second-round encounter but we also see games featuring the best two players from the first round and the last two champions of this event.
Here's our match-by-match guide of all the action...
‘Voltage’ was one of only three players in the opening round to register a ton plus average as he defeated Ross Smith 10-8 with a fairly impressive performance. Callan Rydz on the other hand although victorious averaged the lowest of all 32 players (82.04) as he beat Glen Durrant 10-6.
That was a sixth straight victory for Cross in all competitions and his thirteenth ton plus average in his last twenty seven matches. He certainly seems to be on the march of late and his action is very much improved since the turn of the year.
It is the polar opposite for ‘The Riot’ however who averaged below 90 for the fifth consecutive game. Having looking booked for a comfortable victory as he raced into a 5-0 lead, he was made to work for his win as he stumbled across the line.
These players have only met once before and it was Cross who prevailed 6-5 on that occasion back in July 2020 on the floor.
Cross won this title back in 2019 on the Winter Gardens stage and he certainly seems back to somewhere near that form this year with a seasonal average of 96.16, nearly two and half points higher than his opponents, which is 93.79.
I expect that superiority and what we’ve seen in the opening round to follow suit here with Cross coming out on top but there’s better to come from Rydz surely too. On the whole there’s nothing to separate the pair on 180 per leg ratio, which sees Rydz narrowly ahead at 0.24 per leg compared to Cross’s 0.23. Similarly it’s Rydz who is getting more of the bigger finishes, winning 10.8% of his legs with a 100+ outshot compared to 8.9% for Cross.
I wouldn’t want to be getting involved majorly on stats based bets in this game and would concentrate on Cross on the handicap. Given the recent form and the fact that Rydz has been whitewashed twice in his last 12 matches in all competitions too I’d expect Cross to win -2.5 legs.
This is a clash between the two most impressive winners and performers in the opening round.
Ratajski won 10-4 against a strongly fancied Brendan Dolan with a 101.57 average, the highest of the first round and Humphries emphatically beat James Wade 10-3 with a 101.08 average, the second highest of the opening set of fixtures.
‘Cool Hand Luke’ out finished ‘The Machine’ on Sunday afternoon as he won eight of his ten legs in fifteen darts or fewer and checked out ten of his thirteen out shot opportunities at 80 or below. When you factor this in with the fact he had a first nine dart average of 110.51 and he hit eight 180’s – the joint most in the first round – he’s a formidable opponent for anyone.
He’s consistent too. He’s averaged 90+ in 24 of his last 25 matches, winning 18 of them and his seasonal average now stands at 96.74 with a 180 per leg ratio for 2021 at 0.28.
Consistent is also a word that can be used to define ‘The Polish Eagle’. He’s averaged 100+ in four of his last five matches and in five consecutive TV matches in 2021.
He actually scored slightly better than Humphries in their first matches, registering a first nine dart average of 113.98 thanks to a 46.6% accuracy on Treble 20. His seasonal stats are also very similar. He has averaged 90+ in 23 of his last 25 matches. His seasonal average is currently 97.54 and his 180 per leg ratio is 0.25.
This is not an easy game to call but I’m going for the youngster to come out on top despite Ratajski leading the Head to Head 2-0. Humphries seems to thrive on the big stage, is capable of improving even further and is a massive 180 hitter when he finds his range on that segment. Ratajski always seems to bump into someone like him and be of the receiving end of a thriller. This could be exactly the same.
Two Welsh World Cup partners clash in the match of the night. It sees the current World Number One, World Champion and best players of 2020 take on the current Premier League champion and arguably the most in form player of 2021.
‘The Iceman’ after a nervy start ran out a very comfortable winner on Saturday evening winner as he beat late replacement Jermaine Wattimena 10-4 with a 96.24 average during which he hit 3 ton plus out shots, the pick being the 132 in the tenth leg which seemingly was the pivotal turning point of the match.
Jonny Clayton won his opening match 10-7 against a very tough opponent in Dirk Van Duijvenbode who amassed seven 180’s and a 164 checkout against ‘The Ferret’ but all to no avail.
The pair have met fifteen times previously and it’s the World Champion who leads the head to head record 10-5 but more importantly on this front, he’s won the last seven meetings between them and their most recent clash saw Price emphatically come on top 7-1. Despite how well Clayton has played throughout 2021 I just have a sneaky suspicion that it’s Price who holds all the aces here and is in front in the mind games before the match has started.
Looking at their seasonal stats Gerwyn is averaging 99.24, has a 180 per leg ratio of 0.31 and has won 11.3% of his winning legs this year with a ton plus checkout. Clayton’s are very similar. His seasonal average is 99.14, his 180 per leg record is 0.28 and he’s won 11.9% of his legs by virture of a ton plus out.
After a close start to this match I’m tipping Price to put a late surge together and run away with the game in the end in hopefully what should be a classic.
A repeat of a Last 16 encounter from the World Championship in what was an absolute belter of a match. On that occasion it was ‘Chizzy’ who came out on top 4-2 in sets (13-11 in legs) despite being out 180 hit by Dimi 12-7 and where both players averaged 100+.
Van Den Bergh was a comfortable winner on opening night as he beat a below par Devon Petersen 10-5 who averaged just 84.05 and didn’t hit a single 180. In fact, the last three opponents the Belgian has faced in all competitions, none have managed to muster a 180 across the 34 legs they’ve played.
I don’t think he’ll be up against a player managing a blank tonight as Chisnall remains one of the best 180 hitters on the Tour. He’s rattling them in at 0.33 per leg during 2021, he hit four in his first match and its thirty games ago that he failed to hit a 180 in a match.
Having said all that it wasn’t his power scoring that was the big statistic to take from his opening match against Vincent Van Der Voort, it was his finishing. He hit 3 ton plus out shots including a 161 and his doubling was the best we’ve seen so far at 71.43% (10/14) as he won 10-8 despite a bit of a mid-game rally from his opponent.
Chisnall has gone about his season in steady form and is averaging 95.69 for 2021. On stage he seems to be playing slightly better. In his last twelve matches on there his average is 99.57 and the lowest average he’s registered in those matches is 96.07.
‘The Dream maker’ is also a player that comes alive on the big stage. He’s the defending champion in this event and his last twelve matches on stage he’s registered eight 100+ averages and is averaging almost identical to his opponent at 99.60.
Coming into his match he’d been on the receiving end of high standards on stage too. His last eight opponents had previously registered a ton plus average against him and he only managed to pick up one victory amongst those; they were in the Premier League and it was probably the reason he failed to make the Play-Offs.
The seasonal stats of Dimi are slightly better than that of his opponent, his average is 97.75 and his 180 rate is a mammoth 0.37 per leg.
It’s that high standard and consistency that makes me favour the Belgian just, but this game should have legs in it and be tighter than a lot envisage.