Rod Harrington picks non seeds who could spring shocks in first round of World Darts Championship
Rod Harrington picks eight unseeded players who could cause a shock at the World Championship.
Last Updated: 10/12/12 2:44pm
Alexandra Palace is notorious for shock early results - James Richardson's success over Raymond van Barneveld last year being a prime example - and the 32 top-ranked players will need to tread very carefully to avoid the banana skins.
But which of the unseeded players are set to cause a shock? We asked a man who has followed the PDC Tour closer than anybody over the last 12 months; Rod Harrington.
Here are his eight unseeded stars who might just spring a surprise...
Ian White been playing really well this year. He's one of those guys that plays the dartboard and not the player, which is essential, and he could have a good run. Mark Webster plays him in the first round and he's got a real bad draw there because he's one of the toughest non-seeded players you could have got. It's a tough bracket because if White beats Webster he'll play either Colin Lloyd or Darin Young in the second round - and whoever comes out of that can feel very confident. I think Ian White could do it and he could have a good run.
Arron has been showing some proper darting ability of late, not only on the Youth Tour, but also on the Senior Tour as well. He's learning his trade, he's doing his apprenticeship and he's doing it very well. I like the guy because he shows emotion and he gets revved up for his matches. That's what the fans want to see and he is a very good player. He plays Peter Wright in the first round, who is no mug, but if Arron comes out of that then he could do very well. If you're looking for a first round upset then Monk could be a value bet.
He plays world number six Wes Newton in the first round and it's not going to be an easy game for Wes. Johnny is another of the old guard who just goes up there and plays the dartboard and the seeded player will need to be on his game over a short distance; otherwise Haines could do to him what James Richardson did to Raymond van Barneveld in the first round last year.
It's been well-documented that James Wade has had a few problems this year and if he doesn't turn up on form then Peter Hudson could beat him in the first round. He's a big lad, but he's a very good player and will fancy his chances of pulling off an upset. The bookmakers will have him down as an outsider, but there's every chance we could see a surprise there.
Scott Rand was playing extremely well last year, but has had a little bit of a lean period and maybe put himself under too much pressure when he packed up work. However, he's been playing extremely well just lately and there's another possible upset when he faces Kim Huybrechts. I'm not saying it's defintiely going to happen, but it's certainly possible.
Only a few years ago, Stuart Kellett was the BDO number one and he's taken a few scalps in the PDC Tour events this year. People may not know much about him, but I've seen lots of him and he's a very good player. He plays Vincent van der Voort in the first round, who has had a few problems this year, and there are vulnerabilities that could be exposed in the tall man. We all know what the Dutchman is capable of, but there's a good chance of an upset there as well.
Dean Winstanley's match with Mervyn King is probably the game of the first round and you could flick a coin to decide the winner. King has been playing well lately, but Winstanley is equal to anybody and as Kevin Painter would say, "how's your luck" to get a draw like that. I remember him beating Simon Whitlock at the Grand Slam and he flew right out of the blocks, kept pounding the treble 20 and put lots of pressure on. It's going to be very hard to beat him.
The former world champion has been rocking up at Tour events and been playing extremely well. I don't know anybody who has got more bottle than Dennis Priestley, but these days he's just playing darts for the fun of it before he finally retires. He's been doing well and faces Ronnie Baxter in the first round. Nobody wanted to draw Priestley and if he comes through that match I could see him beating Kevin Painter in the second round (because Kevin gets frustrated against slow players). My old mate could have a good tournament.
The World Darts Championship 2013 starts on Friday, December 14, live on Sky Sports HD