World Darts Championship Day Three preview and predictions: Thirteen different nationalities in action
Day three of the World Darts Championship sees another bumper double-session at Alexandra Palace, with a very international feel to the schedule.
All three seeds to have played their second-round match have progressed so far, with Daryl Gurney and José de Sousa attempting to do the same against William O’Connor and Ross Smith respectively.
Two Japanese players, Toru Suzuki and Edward Foulkes, make their World Championship debuts, while Luke Woodhouse and Ryan Searle, who have enjoyed good runs in the season-ending event in the last two years, also take to the oche.
Here, Jamie Cameron provides his predictions for the eight games on day three.
MADARS RAZMA v TORU SUZUKI (R1)
Latvian number one Razma has had another year of steady improvement on the ProTour, making his second senior final at the Autumn Series, and is set to comfortably keep his Tour Card after winning it back at the start of 2019.
It’s his second appearance at the World Championship following a defeat to Harry Ward in the 2020 edition. ‘Razzmatazz’ is gaining experience in TV events after reaching the last 32 of the Players Championship Finals for the second time recently.
His opponent, Suzuki, won the PDC Asia Japanese qualifier at the end of the November, beating namesake Kota Suzuki 5-3 in the final.
He played 13 matches on the 2019 Asian Tour, with a cumulative average of 83.06. The winner of this match will play two-time champion Gary Anderson.
Prediction: Razma 3-0 Suzuki
MIKE DE DECKER v EDWARD FOULKES (R1)
Two debutants go head-to-head here, but one is certainly more experienced than the other in the PDC. Belgian 25-year-old De Decker first won his Tour Card in 2016, and although he was unable to renew it at the end of that spell, he is back on the ProTour now.
‘The Real Deal’ has had a steady first year back, doing enough to qualify for the Players Championship Finals, which is always a good target if you’re to stay on tour after the two years.
Foulkes came through the PDJ qualifier in October courtesy of a 5-4 victory over Akihito Morita. He also defeated the capable Seigo Asada on route, so could give De Decker a test.
Prediction: De Decker 3-1 Foulkes
RYAN MURRAY v LOURENCE ILAGAN (R1)
‘Muzz Lightyear’ is arguably still best known for being the man Michael van Gerwen hit two nine-darters against in one match, but he has gone some way to changing that in 2020.
After storming through Q School, the Scotsman consistently picked up ranking money in the floor, culminating in a quarter-final at the Winter Series, before reaching the last 32 of the Players Championship Finals.
His opponent, Lourence Ilagan, hasn’t been in action as much this year for obvious reasons, but is still very handy on his day.
The Filipino thrower has impressed against Vincent van der Voort and Cristo Reyes at the last two World Championships, and played at the World Cup of Darts recently for the fourth time.
Prediction: Murray 2-3 Ilagan
DARYL GURNEY v WILLIAM O’CONNOR (R2)
Many experts have labelled Gurney as one of the seeds most at risk in their first match, but he won’t be too worried by O’Connor’s performance in the Irishman’s first-round defeat of Niels Zonneveld.
‘Superchin’ has only gone past the last 16 at one major this year, when he reached the semi-finals of the UK Open, and will finish 2020 outside the top 16 on the ProTour Order of Merit.
‘The Magpie’ made his second TV quarter-final at the European Championship and is looking to equal his best run at Alexandra Palace with a win here.
The extra ranking points that would come with that would see the Irishman within touching distance of the top 32.
Prediction: Gurney 3-2 O’Connor
LUKE WOODHOUSE v JAMIE LEWIS (R1)
Into the evening session now, and a fascinating clash between two players at different points in their careers.
Woodhouse is sitting at his highest-ever world ranking, and had a great run to the last 16 of the Players Championship Finals last month.
In contrast, former semi-finalist Lewis only won £3,500 on the ProTour all year and seemed to be struggling with his confidence, particularly in the last European Tour event when he was whitewashed by Robert Marijanović.
Because of that, ‘Fireball’ must be given huge credit for coming through the qualifier, although it was a bit of a scrap because he only averaged 86 for his three matches.
Prediction: Woodhouse 3-1 Lewis
RON MEULENKAMP v BORIS KRČMAR (R1)
Dutch thrower Meulenkamp is making his fifth appearance at the World Championship, having won his first match the last two years.
However, 2020 has not been his finest campaign, failing to qualify for the Players Championship Finals, with his best ranking cash to date coming courtesy of a second-round appearance at the International Darts Open.
Krčmar took a while to adjust to his first year on the ProTour, but he has been nothing short of superb in the last couple of months,
The Croatian made three last-16s in the Autumn and Winter Series, beating Michael Smith twice, before losing to ‘The Bullyboy’ at the Players Championship Finals despite an average of 108.
Prediction: Meulenkamp 2-3 Krčmar
RYAN SEARLE v DANNY LAUBY (R1)
Searle won his first PDC title at the start of this year, beating Michael van Gerwen in the final of Players Championship 3.
‘Heavy Metal’ made his debut at the World Grand Prix, and consistently reached last 32s and last 16s on the floor to finish the year 20th on the ProTour Order of Merit.
American Lauby follows in the footsteps of his father, who played in the PDC World Championship on four occasions between 1999 and 2004.
Lauby Jnr qualified by virtue of his victory in the CDC Continental Cup, and has appeared in the US Darts Masters before.
Prediction: Searle 3-1 Lauby
JOSÉ DE SOUSA v ROSS SMITH (R2)
Grand Slam champion De Sousa has been on an incredible rise over the last eighteen months, which culminated with that win in one of the PDC’s biggest events at the Ricoh Arena.
Despite that, a European Tour victory, and three other finals, the Portuguese doesn’t have the best of records at the World Championship. In fact, he has never won a match in three attempts.
He faces a very tricky opponent in the form of Ross Smith, who beat David Evans 3-0 on Wednesday. ‘Smudger’ reached the quarter-finals of the International Darts Open in October and finished 29th on the Players Championship Order of Merit.
The Kent man is looking to reach the last 32 of the World Championship for the first time, where he would play Mervyn King or Max Hopp.
Prediction: De Sousa 3-2 Smith
2021 WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP
Thursday, December 17
Afternoon Session (12pm GMT)
Madars Razma v Toru Suzuki (R1)
Mike De Decker v Edward Foulkes (R1)
Ryan Murray v Lourence Ilagan (R1)
Daryl Gurney v William O’Connor (R2)
Evening Session (6pm GMT)
Luke Woodhouse v Jamie Lewis (R1)
Ron Meulenkamp v Boris Krčmar (R1)
Ryan Searle v Danny Lauby (R1)
José de Sousa v Ross Smith (R2)
Best of five sets – no tiebreaks
(Featured Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)