World Darts Championship: James Wade stars on Thursday at Alexandra Palace
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 19/12/13 10:43pm
James Wade chasing maiden world title
The first round of the PDC World Darts Championship finally comes to an end on Thursday, but the big names keep on coming with three-time semi-finalist James Wade making his late entrance into the fray.
Sixth seed Wade has slipped slightly down the Order of Merit but his pedigree in this event is there for all to see - as is his ability to win the big prizes with the left-hander already bagging seven major titles.
He's also in the opposite half of the draw to Phil Taylor, and with him being 10/1 in the 'without Taylor' betting market that could be a decent price if you fancy him to go all the way but maybe just come unstuck in the final.
Mark Webster v Mensur Suljovic
Gino Vos v Royden Lam (P)
James Wade v Darren Webster
Wes Newton v Vos/Lam
Kevin Painter v Tomas Seyler
Although Wade has reached five major semi-finals this year, he has not been without his problems, especially when he lost against Taylor for the 18th time in a row at the World Grand Prix when The Power revealed Wade had told him he had 'given up'.
His performances this year and pure talent make him a class act and worthy 1/8 favourite to dispatch of his first round opponent Darren 'Demolition Man' Webster - who has been no mug in the past.
The 47-year-old made the 2007 World Championship quarter-finals and also beat Wade to reach the last 16 of the UK Open the same year, but although at 5/1 he could represent value if Wade has an off day, it will have to be a real bad day at the office for Wade to let this one slip.
World champ Webby
We've got a world champion kicking off the night's action on Thursday with former Lakeside champ Mark Webster facing a tricky assignment against Serbian-born Austrian Mensur Suljovic.
'The Gentle' as he is known, has not been beyond the third round at the World Championship but is well known in the event after some good displays, most notably in 2011 when he beat both Michael van Gerwen and Wade in successive matches.
Many feel it's about time Wes Newton produced a huge performance at these championships, with the number eight seed already a two-time quarter-finalist and often mentioned as a lively outsider.
There's nothing outsider-looking about his 1/7 price for his first round encounter though as The Warrior faces the winner of the preliminary match between Gino Vos and Royden Lam.