Just eight players remain in the PDC Home Tour and although there have been upsets aplenty along the way, there is a strong look to the first semi-final group, with two-time world champion Gary Anderson and world number 11 Dave Chisnall headlining the show.
The presence of heavy-scoring Dutchman Jelle Klaasen – a BDO world champion in 2006 – and rising Belgian star Mike De Decker, who toppled classy duo Glen Durrant and Stephen Bunting in the previous round, only adds to the excitement.
Wifi problems almost put pay to Anderson’s Home Tour challenge but after fixing his connection troubles, the Scot was given his slot in Group 30 of phase one of the tournament and it is an opportunity he grasped with both hands.
Anderson has been in majestic form, winning both groups he has contested with a 100 per cent record and dropping just ten legs in the process.
The Flying Scotsman Soars
The Flying Scotsman lost only four legs in overcoming Kim Huybrechts, Dimitri Van den Bergh and Dirk van Duijvenbode in phase one and was equally as impressive in topping his playoff group, bulldozing his way past the likes of Luke Humphries and Jamie Lewis.
Anderson averaged a shade over 110 in a 6-1 mauling of the supremely talented Humphries, while an average of 98.65 was enough to record a 6-3 win over Welsh wonder Lewis.
The Scot, who has been plagued by back troubles over the past few years, appears to performing injury free and there have been a number of short bursts of brilliance in his two evening’s of Home Tour action, suggesting he’s edging nearer to a return to his best.
5/4 to record another group win at the expense of Chisnall, Klassen and De Decker and
11/4 second favourite in the outright market, behind only UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall, who by his own admission must improve on the performance that saw him pip Portuguese Jose De Sousa in Group 7 of the playoffs.
Chisnell the Main Competition
Maximum-hitting machine Chisnall looks to be Anderson’s biggest threat of the quartet, after he progressed from Group 4 of the playoffs armed with an average of 94.16.
6/1 chance for Home Tour glory, suffered defeat to Aussie ace Damon Heta in his opening match, but turned the screw and emphatic wins over Darren Webster and Dutch youngster Geert Nentjes secured him a semi-final spot on leg difference.
However, the world number 11 has a tendency to falter in the latter stages of a competition – the 39-year-old still awaits his first televised title – and has won only five of his 24 previous meetings with market rival Anderson. The Flying Scotsman is
8/11 to prevail in their nail-biting 9pm showdown.
Klassen is a class act on his day but can count himself fortunate to progress from the playoffs, with a group average of 87.48. His task was also made easier by a limp display from world champion Peter Wright, who lost their winner-takes-all clash 6-1 and managed an average of just 80.71 in the process.
Anderson should take some stopping but those searching for a shock could do worse than opt for De Decker, who is the
11/2 outsider of the four.
The Belgian thwarted two top-20 performers, in Durrant and Bunting, in the previous round and is playing with little fear.