Lakeside-lover Scott Mitchell can cash in over shaky favourite
Dutch outsider Dirk Telnekes worth a second look
Men's tournament preview
Starts Channel 4, 1pm Saturday
A week after the defending champion and red-hot favourite flopped at Alexandra Palace, lightning could strike twice at the BDO Lakeside World Championships in Frimley Green.
Glen Durrant, who bolted up at the Lakeside last year, is arguably the classiest performer in the BDO ranks, and at 11-8 is widely expected to become just the third first-time winner after Eric Bristow and Raymond van Barneveld to successfully defend his crown.
But similar prophecies were being made about Michael van Gerwen at the William Hill World Championship before his semi-final exit to new champ Rob Cross.
So is there a version of Voltage at the Lakeside, someone who can bring joy to the hearts of the bookies and despair for punters by chinning the hottest favourite for 12 years? And is Durrant capable of dealing with the off-oche angst which is engulfing a player who is desperate to make a bolt for the PDC?
If the answer to those two questions is yes and no, then Scott Mitchell would look good on any shortlist at 12-1.
The Dorset farmer loves the Lakeside, where he took the title two years ago, and even though he doesn’t play as much as some of his rivals, he managed to win five titles in 2017. He also looked very good at the Grand Slam where he averaged more than 100 in defeat to Dave Chisnall and won one of his three group games.
Super-consistent, Scotty Dog just doesn’t throw in bad games which means his opponents, whoever they are, will have to have blinders to beat him.
Mitchell opens up with a potentially tricky one against Darius Labanauskas but he crushed the Lithuanian 3-0 in the quarter-finals of last month’s Finder Masters.
The bottom half looks wide open. It houses tournament second-favourite, Danny Noppert, who must play a preliminary-round tie against American Joe Chaney.
Former champ Martin Adams, nearly man Wesley Harms and the well-regarded Jamie Hughes are also in the bottom section along with a couple of dangerous Dutch qualifiers, Michy Unterbuchner and Dirk Telnekes.
Unheralded Dutchmen have come from nowhere in this tournament many times over – Jelle Klaasen and Christian Kist spring to mind, while Richard Veenstra was a 125-1 semi-finalist two years ago. The fiery Telnekes, winner in a quality field at the Belgian Open in August and a Czech Open semi-finalist in November, has the game to go far.
As for Durrant, he’s in a real quandary. He has made it abundantly clear that he wants to join the PDC – he even asked Barry Hearn for a wildcard for 2018, which is what Stephen Bunting was given after he won the Lakeside but Hearn has said no.
If Durrant reaches the semis, he becomes contractually obliged to return to the Lakeside next year and has admitted that if that’s the case, his shot at PDC glory has probably gone. There's one for the conspiracy theorists.
1pt each-way 12-1 general
1pt each-way 66-1 general
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