Lakeside 2018 – Saturday 6th January – Preview

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Mark McGeeney England Vs Martin Adams England

Lakeside legends Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams and Lisa Ashton both toe the oche on the opening day of the 41st BDO World Championship. Adams makes his 25th consecutive appearance at the championship – he lifted the trophy in 2007, 2010 and 2011 – and Ashton also starts her bid for a fourth women’s title in five years. The match between Adams and Mark McGeeney launches the championship on Saturday afternoon – and it’s a tough start for ‘Wolfie.’ McGeeney heads to the Lakeside as the BDO’s No 2 having been there or thereabouts throughout 2017, winning four titles, including the Dutch Open and English Classic, and reaching the World Masters final. The last time McGeeney and Adams met, at the Belgium Open in August, McGeeney was a 4-0 winner. Adams admits that, because of health problems, his form has been “up and down” over the last 12 months. Though given the all-clear from prostate cancer, Adams has had joint pain and foot problems, but said: “I’ve still got the game and I’m still enjoying it, which is the main thing. “Mark is the No 2 seed and that means the pressure is on him. Let him worry about the match. I’m not.” The Lakeside crowd are sure to be behind Adams, once described as “a big hairy drama show” by commentator David Croft for his habit of winning matches he seems certain to lose – and losing matches he is sure to win. Adams regards his victory over the late Phill Nixon in their classic see-saw final in 2007 final as his finest moment and added: “To win the title again in my 25th year would be immense. That would equal winning the first one. “ Adams is convinced he will have many more opportunities to claim the sport’s biggest prize. “Lionel Smith was playing County A darts for Staffordshire until he was 75 and if he can do that, why can’t I keep playing at the Lakeside into my seventies ?” he reasoned. “Why not ? Who’s going to stop me ? “The only people who can stop me are the other players and if I keep doing the circuit play well enough, I will keep going to the Lakeside. I’m not bothered about being seeded or not. I just want to go there and enjoy it.”

Lisa Ashton England Vs Rhian Griffiths Wales

Ashton starts her defence of the women’s championship against Rhian Griffiths and though Deta Hedman is the No 1 seed, Trina Gulliver says her best friend is the player to beat. “Lisa is so fluent,” said the 10 times world champion, “and when she’s at her best, she’s tough to beat. “She’s on fire at the moment – and she’s hungry to keep her title.” Ashton was unbeatable last year, not dropping a set on the way to lifting the trophy for the third time in four years, and will be a warm favourite to keep her title. She can make her darts go wherever she wants them to when she’s having one of her purple patches – and holds the record for the highest average ever recorded in a women’s match, 98.84 against Corrine Hammond in the BDO World Darts Trophy in 2016.

Scott Mitchell England Vs Darius Labanauskas Lithuania

Scott Mitchell enters the BDO Lakeside World Championship believing he’s playing as well as he was when he lifted the trophy in 2015. Mitchell gave the championship one of its greatest nights when he won the title. His final with Martin Adams went all the way to a deciding 13th set – and Mitchell nailed a 158 check out to break the throw that proved to be the turning point. The 47 year old hasn’t got beyond the quarter finals at the Lakeside since then, but his form over the last 12 months is good. “I won five tournaments,” he said, “and form is as good as it’s ever been. “I’m playing as well as I was when I won the world title – and that’s all down to confidence. “I’m not trying to convince myself, or other people, that I’m playing well. I’m proving it by going out there and winning tournaments. “But I know that as a darts player, it’s all about what you do at the Lakeside and in the World Masters. “It’s great being ranked in the top three or four, but people remember who won the big tournaments and I feel I’m ready to win the Lakeside again.” He launches his trophy bid against Darius Labanauskas. They met only a few weeks ago in the quarter finals of the Finders Masters and though Mitchell ran out a 4-0 winner, he said: “The scoreline flatters me a bit. The sets were close and I see this as being a tough first-round draw.” Mitchell admits he hasn’t been able to practice as much as he would have liked ahead of the championship. “My father has been ill, so I’ve had to do more on the family farm,” he explained, “and I’ve been practicing for 30 or 40 minutes here and there. But I feel fine. I think you can over practice sometimes, you can try too hard.”

Joe Chaney USA Vs Danny Noppert Netherlands

Danny Noppert, the Dutchman beaten by Glen Durrant in last year’s final and second favourite with the bookmakers this time, starts at the preliminary round stage this time, against Joe ‘Chanesaw’ Chaney, the American No 1 whose titles last year included the Las Vegas Open. Noppert heads into the championship in good form having just won the Finder Masters 2017 and given that he consistently averages around the mid-late nineties, he could well have another good run at the Lakeside.The winner of Noppert-Chaney faces No 15 seed James Hurrell in the first round.

Justin Thompson Australia Vs Chris Gilliland Northern Ireland

Lakeside debutants Justin Thompson (Australia) and Chris Gilliland (Northern Ireland) clash in a preliminary-round tie, with the winner facing Darryl Fitton in the first round. Thompson is at the Lakeside after winning the Australian National Singles and Gilliland fought through seven matches at the qualifiers in Bridlington, including a win over 2016 quarter finalist Dennis Harbour. Gilliland is confident that if he throws his best darts, he can make an impact at the Lakeside.

Deta Hedman England Vs Rachna David Norway

Women’s No 1 seed Deta Hedman, is sure to be a sentimental favourite with the Lakeside crowd when she launches her ninth world championship campaign against Rachna David. The No 1 seed has lost in three finals and in David, she meets a Norwegian who won four qualifying matches to reach the Lakeside.

Pengiran Mohamed Brunei Vs Gary Robson England

The prize for either PG Pengiran Mohamed or Gary Robson is a first-round tie against defending champion Glen Durrant. Mohamed is from Brunei Darusallam and makes his Lakeside debut after battling through a field of around 200 entries in the Asian qualifier, while Robson is rather better known to Lakeside fans. The 50 year old from the North East has three times reached the quarter finals.