The World Series 8 have arrived in Australia for the annual Perth Masters event and they are joined by some Aussie challengers who won’t let them have it all their own way.
The draw has thrown up some interesting first round matches including Raymond van Barneveld vs Simon Whitlock and Stephen Bunting vs Kyle Anderson, but it is the 2nd round that is more appealing with a potential Adrian Lewis vs Gary Anderson match-up along with other potential epic encounters. Below I will provide some predictions of the first round matches and the overall Winner:
The first round match that immediately caught my eye was Stephen Bunting vs Kyle Anderson. I think ‘The Bullet’ was very unlucky with this draw as I see Anderson as the best of the Australian challengers.
His rise in the PDC over the past 18 months has been incredible, and if you have read my blog recently you would know that I am a big fan of his. His qualification for the World Matchplay in July was a great achievement in itself, but to nearly get the better of eventual finalist James Wade in the first round was very impressive. He lost the match 10-7 with a 99 average, but that doesn’t tell half of the story as he had ‘The Machine’s’ back against the ropes at 7-7 but lost his way for the last 3 legs, a good performance no the less. Then Wade went on to make the final beating World Matchplay specialist Phil Taylor along the way so this just shows just how well both Anderson and Wade were playing.
Stephen Bunting is also another player who has been progressing well since he joined the PDC and has justified his invites to events in the past year with a good performance in the Premier League along with a run to the Final of the Sydney Masters last year, so he will have good memories of playing in Australia.
The World Matchplay didn’t go as planned for ‘The Bullet’ as he lost 10-6 to Ian White but he was not disgraced with a 101.62 average and he would probably get the title of most unlucky first round loser. His form has been a bit patchy lately, but when he pulls it together in the big matches he can beat anyone which he has shown in the past with wins against Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis and James Wade along with many more in the last past 9 months.
The best of 11 legs format shouldn’t trouble either player as both have played this length of match for the majority of their careers. They have met 5 times in the past with ‘The Bullet’ winning 4 of the matches, although interestingly the last 4 meetings between the pair has went to a last leg decider. This could be another very tight match but due to his inconsistency lately I think Bunting could be the first seeded casualty of the weekend with Anderson marching onto the 2nd round.
Things just don’t seem to be going Barney’s way. He hasn’t been at his best lately, most notably during a 10-7 loss to Andy Hamilton at the World Matchplay where the big Dutchman averaged a measly 89.8. He would have been hoping for a nice draw here to virtually guarantee a 2nd round match against one of the big guns to hopefully give him a confidence boost, but sadly it hasn’t worked out that way.
He has drawn World Number 10 Simon Whitlock, who recently broke his year long TV Major duck by beating the fancied Jelle Klaasen in the first round of the World Matchplay, not exactly good timing for Mr Barneveld but perfect for ‘The Wizard’ returning to his home country. This is another hard match to call, I would love to say van Barneveld should progress, but in my opinion Simon Whitlock will be really up for this and will want to win a match on home soil and to avoid letting the crowd down, who will no doubt be singing their lungs out for their fellow countryman which could only enhance his chances.
The form book goes completely out the window, but due to home advantage and confidence I will be swaying towards ‘The Wizard’.
Simon Whitlock 6-4 Raymond van Barneveld 13/2 Paddy Power
The usual suspects have obvious claims. World Number 1 Michael van Gerwen is fresh off the back of World Matchplay glory, Phil Taylor is the defending champion of the Perth Masters and of course World Champion Gary Anderson is the man on form, but despite these challengers, my prediction for the player to be victorious overall is World Number 4 Peter Wright.
He has drawn Paul Nicholson who is slowly dropping down the rankings and hasn’t found any form at all in the last 12 months, so that should be relatively routine for ‘Snakebite’ if he were to win then it would most likely set up a 2nd round clash with James Wade, a tough task, but one I think the Scotsman can win due to his recent form being so good.
He had a great week in Blackpool where he reached the Semi Finals losing to eventual Winner and World Number 1 Michael van Gerwen but he beat Kim Huybrechts, Andrew Gilding and Gerwen Price very nicely along the way. He is due to win a big tournament soon, he can’t keep playing this well without winning something and think his time is now.
I am also going to give Kyle Anderson a shout. He has been so impressive recently that I could see him having a good run soon, although if he wins his 1st round match he will most likely be facing defending champion Phil Taylor in the 2nd round, an almost impossible task, but with the crowd firmly on his side you never know what can happen.