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|Group Six of Last 32 of PDC Home Tour Darts
|Four players’ homes
|Sunday, 31 May 2020, 2:30 PM EST
|How to watch
|Stream live on bet365 NJ
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The second stage of the PDC Home Tour brings a slightly longer format with games now played over the best of 11 legs, rather than the first to five in the previous round. That should suit the higher-ranked players, giving them a chance to rectify a poor start in matches.
The tournament continues with the sixth day of the Last 32 stage with the fancied pair of Chris Dobey and Joe Cullen lining up on paper for a straight shootout for a semi-final berth. But Martijn Kleermaker will have other ideas. And Canadian Jeff Smith makes up Sunday’s quartet.
|To win Group 6
|To win Home Event
Group win odds taken on May 30, from bet365 NJ.
The two standout candidates for progression from Group Six are world No. 20 Chris Dobey and Jamie Cullen, who is four places higher in the PDC rankings. These are two players whose careers are going in the right direction and it is difficult to separate their claims for success on Sunday evening.
Chris Dobey is world ranked 20. Nicknamed ‘Hollywood’, the 29-year-old was a semi-finalist in last year’s World Grand Prix and Players Championship Finals. He has also made the Last 16 in each of the last two PDC World Championships.
Playing out of his Northumberland home, Dobey came through on Night 14 when he beat Ciaran Teerhan 5-2, Ron Meulenkamp 5-1, before losing 5-4 to Kai Fan Leung to progress on leg difference. He averaged 97.80 across the three games.
Joe Cullen is No. 16 in the PDC rankings. The 30-year-old, playing from a shed at the bottom of his Bradford garden, was a semi-finalist in the 2018 European Championship. He had come second on leg difference behind Ryan Murray on Night 20 before getting a second bite of the cherry on Night 31 when he won all three games. He beat Keegan Brown 5-2, Gerwyn Price 5-3 and Bradley Brooks 5-0 as he averaged 106.65 throughout a tremendous display.
‘The Rockstar’ has admitted to losing motivation during lockdown and dissatisfaction in not competing as consistently as his undoubted skills suggest he should. But his online action in the Home Event appears to have rekindled some hunger. Cullen can blow red hot or ice cold. If it’s the former there will be no stopping him.
Cullen has met Dobey on six occasions and is leading their meetings 4-2 and would be the pick to progress. But we need to add a strong caveat – if he’s in the mood.
Martijn Kleermaker ended the hopes of world-ranked No. 5 Michael Smith on Night 9 in something of a shock as he beat him 5-3 after trailing 3-0. He banged in 110 and 128 checkouts to roar back against Smith before losing to Matt Clark 5-3 but progressed on leg difference after winning 5-2 against Harry Ward. ‘The Dutch Giant’ is 29 years old is competing on the PDC Tour after qualifying through European Q School and he certainly has the armory to trouble all of his opponents on Sunday.
The Dutchman made the Last 16 of the BDO World Championships earlier this year and has beaten Cullen in both of their two meetings to date. He has never played Dobey. If either of the higher-ranked players misfires this weekend, Kleermaker could be ready to sweep up the glory.
Jeff Smith raised his game when it mattered in Night 16 to squeeze through. ‘The Silencer’ threw 10-dart legs against Christian Bunse, who he beat 5-1, and in a 5-4 defeat to Martin Atkins. If you are going to lose, losing narrowly in this format is key, as Smith was able to beat Ricky Evens 5-4 to top the group on leg difference as he rattled in a 147 checkout in the decider for good measure.
The Canadian is currently world ranked 92 and has never met any of his Sunday opponents before. His best performance on the PDC Tour was reaching the Last 16 stage of the 2016 Grand Slam, but he has been a journeyman rather than a star, dividing his time between the BDO and PDC circuits and claiming a raft of success at much lesser events. Sunday’s Group Six action appears to be the summit of the 44-year-old’s aspirations in this tournament.
If Joe Cullen is in the mood on Sunday he wins Group Six, so we are hoping The Rockstar finds his rhythm, has got out of bed the right side and makes our +175 pick a profitable one.
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