Gabriel Clemens and Benito van de Pas will battle it out for a World Championship second round berth.

For Clemens, there’s a chance at an all-German tie, while this is a significant World Championship for Van de Pas. With the tournament starting tomorrow, we’re into the final day of first round previews. Yesterday’s profiles wrapped up with Josh Payne against Diogo Portela. Check out the full schedule right here.

Facts and figures

Match time/date: 21:30, December 18

Head-to-head record: Clemens 2-0 Van de Pas

Previous meeting: Clemens 6-2 Van de Pas, Players Championship 19 (July 2019)

Best major performance this season: Last 16, Players Championship Finals & Grand Slam (Clemens); Last 64, UK Open (Van de Pas)

Previous PDC World Championship appearances: Clemens 1, Van de Pas 5

Best PDC World Championship performance: Second round, 2019 (Clemens); Last 16, 2015 2016, 2017 & 2019 (Van de Pas)

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Preview

Two players whose career trajectories are polar opposites clash at the Ally Pally. For Gabriel Clemens, a potential World Championship second round meeting with Max Hopp is either a great opportunity – given that Hopp’s far down in the seeds and not in top form – or a shame, as it halves the German interest early on. Narratively speaking, it’s a dream; the nation’s darting poster boy, meeting the man who many believe has now eclipsed him. A game would be key evidence one way or the other.

Clemens has been one of the year’s very best performers. He cruised through a tough group at the Grand Slam, was in the latter stage of both Minehead tournaments, reached the final of two floor events and was also runner-up at the German Darts Masters. The Gentle Giant has received plaudits left, right and centre for his consistent quality and calm oche demeanour, which is starting to translate into big stage performances – even if a great chance at the Grand Slam went begging. His annual report card would get a very high grade indeed, particularly if he can have a successful World Championship.

Benito van de Pas, meanwhile, is on a steady slide into oblivion. It’s astonishing, really; the Dutchman was in with a Premier League shout not that long ago, and was consistently playing and winning games on the biggest stages. He has taken part in one major this year, the UK Open, and that run was ended by the man he faces in London. Even at 26 years old, this feels like a make-or-break time for Van de Pas. If other results go against him, time might be up for Big Ben, who has held a Tour Card since 2014. He’s got a decent World Championship record though; four out of five times he’s appeared, Van de Pas has made the last 16. That includes last year, where he was the 30th seed – another glaring indicator of how far he’s fallen.

Prediction

It has to be Clemens 3-0 Van de Pas, right? Form suggests so, at least. On paper, this is a cut-and-dried Teutonic triumph. The World Championship knows how to spring a surprise of course, but there isn’t much to suggest that Clemens will fall victim to it. It could be a long, tense December for Van de Pas.

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Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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Author: Ed McCosh