Justin Pipe returns to the World Championship for a meeting with Benjamin Pratnemer.

This is the penultimate first round match at this year’s tournament, and our 31st match preview. Number 30 was Gabriel Clemens’ tie against Benito van de Pas. If it’s the full World Championship schedule you want, we’ve got that too.

Facts and figures

Match time/date: 12:40, December 19

Head-to-head record: First meeting

Previous meeting: N/A

Best major performance this season: Last 64, Players Championship Finals (Pipe); N/A (Pratnemer)

Previous PDC World Championship appearances: Pipe 8, Pratnemer 0

Best PDC World Championship performance: Third round, 2012 (Pipe); N/A (Pratnemer)

Preview

A veteran of World Championships, Justin Pipe was conspicuous in his absence last year. You’d have to go back to December 2009 to see the last time the Somerset ace didn’t appear at the Ally Pally. It was an indictment at what had been a terrible time for Pipe, starting with that infamous ‘Coughgate’ saga and leading to the loss of his father. The Force has recovered from many a setback, and he’ll do so again here. Pipe hasn’t done too well at majors this year, eliminated early on by Geert Nentjes and Mervyn King in the UK Open and Players Championship Finals respectively. But you suspect that he’ll be up for it in London, and hopefully greeted with cheers this year, rather than jeers.

There aren’t too many players around that Pipe hasn’t crossed paths with before; Benjamin Pratnemer is one of them. The 40-year-old won the PDC Eastern Europe qualifier, making him just the second Slovenian ever to appear at the World Championship. He’s had some major experience this year, albeit in the BDO; Pratnemer made it to the stage rounds of the World Masters, bowing out at the hands of Carl Hamilton in the last 32. The PDC World Championship’s old home of the Circus Tavern does well, as far as preparation goes.

Prediction

We don’t know exactly how Pratnemer will fare at the Ally Pally, and we also aren’t certain if he’ll have dealt with playing the game at Pipe’s pace. Both are key here, and will determine how far Pipe is pushed. Then again, Bernie Smith dealt with it well two years ago before…you know. We’ll say Pipe 3-1 Pratnemer.

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Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

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Author: Ed McCosh