Wednesday December 20 (7pm) 9/2 Xiao Chen Zong v 1/5 Bernie Smith (P) 2/5 Michael Smith v 9/4 Steve Lennon 3/10 Simon Whitlock v 3/1 Martin Schindler 1/7 Justin Pipe v 11/2 prelim winner
9/2 Xiao Chen Zong v 1/5 Bernie Smith (P) Bernie Smith is 1/5 to win his prelim match. After looking up both players bios i'd put a zero on the end. Smith is vastly experienced and took 2 legs off Gary Anderson. Zong on the other hand got mauled 6-0 in the Shangai masters by non other than James Wade (who remembers him? with a low 80's average win. As not to totally diss the young Chinaman (is that allowed?) he has youth on his side and could play the game of his life in what is the mothership of all darts events. Bernie 2-0 correct score is 8/11 but with the carnage of the first round so far only a lunatic would get involved. One to avoid.
A minor digression - I guess i'm from a different era where "ladies first" (in no way not connected with Britain first) showed good manners etc. Seems it now causes outrage amongst women. Don't dare say woman as it has the word man in it. Question: "How should us as men address you?" Female: "Call us human beings" - As seen on live tv today. FFS! Big Mac was right after all with his "female" reference. Back to the darts...
2/5 Michael Smith v 9/4 Steve Lennon Michael Smith - Bully Boy. A nickname that's not exactly pc in today's upside down ways of society. Who exactly does he bully? Does he frequently hit the bull, or is it because he's a another slob of a dart player? I'm on my highest of horses today. Might need the edit filter to remove some sections. Apparently he's the greatest player ever in the practice room according to his mentor Gary Anderson. On the big stage it's all about temperament, not petulance. One day Mike might reel off a sequence of big stage wins in majors to justify this "potential."
Lennon is coming along nicely, seems unphased by the big stage and threw some decent arrers in the grand slam after winning through the qualifiers. Though am I the only one who thinks he missed a nickname trick? Hands up who'd heard of him prior to the GS? Instead of his name on the back of his shirt surely the way to go was with "Imagine." Could be he's unaware of John or simply avoiding the obvious.
3/10 Simon Whitlock v 3/1 Martin Schindler Both have a German connection. One has a surname known throughout the world for events portraying the best and worst in man kind. The other is a bearded wearing Aussie who shacked up with a fräulein after cheating on the wife (allegedly).
"The Wall" has now surpassed the then great German darts hope Max Hopp. Maybe the pressure on Max's young shoulders took its toll as his inability to close matches out is far from the German way. Maybe he'll come back stronger having not qualified. The Wall on the other hand seems unphased by it. He wears his heart on his sleeve and thrives on the big stage extravaganza. There's been strong ticket sales for German fans who've en massed upon ally pally. Might be tonight that they arrive in large numbers cheering their man on.
Whitlock has had in indifferent season, though recent months has seen him regain some of his brilliance often seen on the screen. When he can pull himself away from the spinning wheel he's quite good at pinging the maxes, and loves a bull finish. I'm on the Wizard to come through an entertaining match which should se plenty of 180's from both players.
Selections - Over 7.5 180s @ 7/10 stars 1pt Whitlock to win 3-1 sets @ 5/2 billies, baldy 0.5pt