Michael van Gerwen was given the fright of his life at the Alexandra Palace on Tuesday as Cristo Reyes pushed him all the way in their second-round clash.
‘Mighty Mike’ was the near-unbackable favourite for this tournament before it started but he was wobbling severely against Reyes who, in going down 4-2, posted the highest losing average the tournament has seen.
MVG’s next mission comes against the ‘Demolition Man’ Darren Webster, who has looked outstanding so far in dumping out Stephen Bunting and Simon Whitlock. Both are significant scalps for the Norwich man but he will need to play even better if he is to get change out of MVG.
He has form for roughing Van Gerwen up, going 6-0 up on him at the Players Championship Finals in Minehead last month before losing 11-8. But the world stage is the biggest of them all and MVG should prevail, although more than 4.5 sets at 3/5 looks incredibly tempting.
Kim Huybrechts (below) is 51/20 to pull off a shock and deny Phil Taylor the chance to claim a 17th world title. The Belgian has produced two flawless displays so far, whitewashing James Wilson and Max Hopp, and is capable of beating Taylor for the first time in three major meetings. Huybrechts will have to be clinical with his finishing and to complete the highest checkout he is priced at 7/5.
Taylor is still the overwhelming favourite at 1/4 to set up a heavyweight quarter-final with Raymond van Barneveld, especially after ending Huybrechts’ tournament at this stage in 2015, but ‘The Power’ was unconvincing in the last round against Kevin Painter despite winning 4-0.
Taylor is 333/100 to secure a third consecutive whitewash and, like in 2015, 5/1 to edge out Huybrechts in a final-set decider.
Peter Wright means business and is 2/1 to beat Ian White 4-0. ‘Snakebite’ has breezed into the third round with whitewashes over Jerry Hendriks and Jamie Lewis, and ended White’s World Matchplay campaign earlier this year.
Wright can be backed at 9/4 to drop his first set of the tournament and win 4-1 while White is 12/1 to win a seven-set thriller.