Three months after it was initially scheduled the inaugural WDF World Darts Championship begins at the iconic Lakeside Country Club on Saturday when 48 of the leading lights of the amateur game descend on Frimley Green in Surrey for what should be a good nine days of darts.
I guess you could argue that technically Wayne Warren is the defending champion having won the final staging of the BDO version of this tournament but officially the title will be won for the first time a week on Sunday.
48 men have made it into the draw. 16 seeded bypass the first round with the other 32 players playing a best of three set match to take on one of the seeds in round two. The second round and the last 16 will be played over the best of five sets with the quarter finals the best of seven sets. The semi-finals are the best of nine sets and the champion will be determined on the second Sunday over the best of 11 sets. The draw has been pre-determined and every dart will be shown live on Eurosport.
The number one seed this year is the Belgian player Brian Raman. He shouldn’t be in the competition but the PDC allowed all those who qualified and then won a tour card in January the chance to compete so he will be looking to take advantage of that. Seven other seeds are in the top half of the draw. Raman will be seeded to meet Aaron Turner in the semi-final but the likes of Neil Duff, Nick Fullwell, Mike Warburton, Richard Veenstra, Antony Allen and the young star Luke Littler will be out to stop that match from happening.
There is a mixture of the young and the old among the players who come into the tournament in the first round. Three-time world champion Martin Adams is in the top half of the draw as are Dave Prins and Paul Hogan. Jim McEwan and Justin Thompson have been around the block a bit as well. Mark Barilli is another household name on this circuit while youngsters Jarred Cole, Ben Hazel and Laszlo Kadar will look to showcase their talent in the tournament for as long as is possible.
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The French tungsten tosser Thibault Tricole is the highest seed in the bottom half of the draw. He has flirted with the PDC tour this year but doesn’t have his card so this is a big week for him. If everything goes the way it is seeded to he will meet the last BDO world champion Wayne Warren in the semi-final but six other seeds will be out to stop that from happening. They are Leonard Gates, Andy Baetens, Scott Marsh, Cameron Menzies, James Hurrell and Jules van Dongen.
Two players stand out among those who aren’t seeded in this half of the draw. They are the tournament favourite Connor Scutt who is now a PDC professional and James Richardson who was on that tour for a long time but has fallen off it. Steve Hine and Ryan de Vreede have also been on the PDC tour while the likes of Sebastian Steyer, Dave Parletti and Jordan Brooks will all be wanting a good week here to launch their career at the top level. David Cameron is a regular on the amateur scene.
I’ll take an outright in both halves of the draw. I’ve got to think being a professional darts player is going to be a massive advantage here and with that in mind I think Cameron Menzies is the most likely champion this week. It just so happens that he has the best draw as well because he’ll run into Wayne Warren in the last 16 who has been struggling with a shoulder issue and from there the draw opens right up with most of the heavy hitters in the top half of the draw with the exception of Connor Scutt. Menzies sits up at 26 in the Players Championship averages this year with a 94.24 average overall and that sort of darts is going to make him hard to beat. That is over 18 matches but when you look deeper into his form he has eight averages over 96 with wins over Michael van Gerwen and Jose de Sousa on his CV this season. To add to all that he has TV experience under his belt so at 9/1 he’s my main bet this week.
In the top half I’ll take my chances on a shot in the dark in the form of Haupai Puha. He isn’t a professional but he has played in the PDC World Championship and some of the World Series events before the pandemic and has been a regular on the Challenge Tour. He played the first five tournaments and averaged over 90 overall. He was second in the third of those events where he won two matches with a 100+ average, one of which was against Jim McEwan who he could meet in the semi-final here. As well as those two 100+ averages, the Kiwi has three more averages over 95. I firmly believe anyone who averages over 90 consistently in this tournament is going to have a big week so at 80/1 I think the New Zealander is worth taking a chance on despite a tough looking draw.
Back C.Menzies to win WDF World Darts Championship (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 10.00 with BetVictor (1/2 1-2)
Back him here:
Back H.Puha to win WDF World Darts Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Bet365 (1/2 1-2)