Davids meet Goliaths in the evening session of the PDC World Championship quarter-finals.
Luke Humphries is very much the former. Last year, he lost on debut, failing to win even a set. He went into the 2019 PDC World Championship as a 500/1 outsider. But after dumping out Adam Hunt, Stephen Bunting, Dimitri van den Bergh and defending world champion Rob Cross, he is now at 22/1. The sky is the limit for the 23-year-old.
Three years ago, we were saying very much the same about 25-year-old quarter finalist Michael Smith. He lost to Raymond van Barneveld in 2016, and there have been dark times since. But overall, Smith has developed into one of the best players in the world. All that’s missing is that big title. Given that he just needs to beat two non-seeds to win the final, this is his shot. Rob Cross was probably thinking the same, but what we have learned is that Luke Humphries doesn’t mind who he beats.
Ryan Joyce is another seed-scalper – three of them have fallen at his hand. He does so quietly and without fuss, completely at odds with the new trend of oche histrionics. Simon Whitlock was beaten with ease. Alan Norris and James Wade took more finessing, but they too were reeled in.
And yet Joyce is still the rank outsider at 100/1. That’s because he faces the Green Machine. Michael van Gerwen has suffered blips in recent years, and been punished for them. This year he seems as focused as he could possibly be. A 104 tournament average has helped him to win three games, dropping one set each time. Ryan Joyce’s nickname may be Relentless, but it’s van Gerwen who looks unstoppable right now. Yet in this tournament of all tournaments, we can’t rule anything out.
Evening session schedule
19:15 Michael Smith vs Luke Humphries (QF)
20:45 Michael van Gerwen vs Ryan Joyce (QF)
Author: Ed McCosh