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World Darts Championship first round: MVG and Newton in action

The PDC World Darts Championship is almost upon us, and Coral writers provide punters previews and expert advice for each and every game throughout the tournament, that goes on over the festive period, from December 18th – January 4th.

Darting stars Michael van Gerwen, Wes Newton, John Part and Keegan Brown are all in action on the opening day, while there is a delicious Dutch duel between former BDO world champions Jelle Klaasen and Christian Kist as well.

Here is our lowdown for the Thursday night encounters.

John Part (30) v Keegan Brown
Canadian veteran Part, 48, is a three-time winner of this tournament (once in the BDO format and twice in the PDC), but he faces one of the up-and-coming players on tour in World Youth champion Brown.

The 22-year-old, nicknamed the Killer, reached the quarter-finals of the Grand Slam of Darts this year, beating established superstars such as Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld.

Brown is certainly one to watch in this tournament, and is odds-on favourite at 4/9 to beat Part (7/4), who was beaten by the young Englishman in both of their previous battles.

Jelle Klaasen (29) v Christian Kist
In another terrific opening day of the tournament match-up, Dutch duo and former BDO world champions Klaasen and Kist go head-to-head.

Kist won the BDO World Championship in 2012, but has since switched to the PDC this year, and has already faced his compatriot in the Players’ Championship in October, beating him 6-5.

He is the slight odds-on favourite for victory once more at 4/5, and a 4/1 chance for a close 3-2 scoreline. Klaasen, who reached the quarters in the PDC format in 2009, and won the BDO World Championship in 2006, is evens to progress to the last 32.

Michael van Gerwen (1) v Joe Cullen
World number one Van Gerwen (11/4 tournament second-favourite) kicks off his title defence against young Yorkshireman Cullen, who has upset Mighty Mike four times before from their 11 meetings, including most recently in the Players’ Championship.

Cullen won 6-4 that day, and is a tempting 10/1 chance to beat the Dutchman again, and 20/1 by a 3-2 scoreline. But MVG knows he faces a potentially tricky tie, and will be in full focus, which is why he is heavily odds-on at 1/25 for victory and a more tempting 5/2 to win 3-1.

Wes Newton (13) v Christian Perez/Cristo Reyes
Premier League star Newton will have to wait until after the 8:15pm preliminary round match between Perez of the Philippines (odds-on 8/13 favourite) and Spain’s Reyes (6/5), before facing the winner.

But the Englishman, who has reached the quarters here three times before, should have no trouble defeating either in the late night encounter.