PDC World Darts Championship: Top five third round matches to look forward to after Christmas break and tips

The first and second round matches at the Alexandra Palace have concluded and it’s things are really heating up on the oche.

The first and second rounds of the 2023 PDC World Darts Championships have been completed and the field of 96 players has been narrowed down to just 32.

When the players return on December 27 the third round will begin at the Alexandra Palace and, even though it’s still early in the tournament, there are already some brilliant matches to look forward to. Here we have taken a look at what we feel are the five best match ups in round three and given a prediction on how we see them going:

1. Gerwyn Price vs Raymond van Barneveld

Two former winners of the Sid Waddell trophy go head-to-head in a match that has the chance to see one of the tournament favourites exit early on. Price wasn’t at his best in his second round match against Luke Woodhouse, although even playing at around 60%-70% of what he is capable of is still world class, and might have been in more danger against an opponent with slightly more experience on the bigger stages.

Someone who certainly has that is the five time champion of the World who looked pretty good in his own second round tie against Ryan Meikle. Barney’s performances seem to be constantly improving since his return from retirement and there’s no reason to believe he can’t pose a huge threat to Price.

Match odds:

  • Gerwyn Price - 1/3
  • Raymond van Barneveld - 9/4

Our prediction: Barney will give Price a tough test and this one could go all the way to a seventh set decider but our pick is to back the Welshman. Score = Prive 4-3 van Barneveld.

2. Nathan Aspinall vs Josh Rock

Quite possibly the most intriguing tie of the third round, a match that really could go either way. Aspinall is of course a two time semi-finalist at the Ally Pally and has been consistently ranked in the top 10 in the Order of Merit since his 2019 UK Open Win. He’ll be hoping for a run deep into the latter stages of this tournament.

Incredibly, despite his huge experience advantage, the Asp is considered the underdog for this match and it’s the world youth champion who is expected to win this one by the bookmakers. There has been a lot of talk around the 21-year old going into this tournament and his second round thrashing of Callan Rydz backed that up but this will certainly be his toughest test to date.

Match odds:

  • Nathan Aspinall - 5/4
  • Josh Rock - 8/13

Our prediction: It’s hard to ignore the hype around Rock, which is well merited make no mistake, but it’s also hard to shake the feeling that Aspinall’s experience on this stage could be the deciding factor so we’re backing the outsider. Score = Aspinall 4-2 Rock.

3. Peter Wright vs Kim Huybrechts

This tie has flown under the radar slightly but has the chance to be one of the best matches at the tournament so far. Just look at Huybrechts performance at the same stage last year. The Belgian came up against Gerwyn Price and pushed him all the way to the last dart with the Welshman winning the decisive seventh set 6-5.

Meanwhile, Wright dispelled any concerns over his lack of competitive action in the build-up to this tournament with an impressive showing on the opening night - but Huybrechts will be a step up in opposition from Mickey Mansell. Much like the Price vs Huybrechts third round tie from last year, this one could end up being a barn burner.

Match odds:

  • Peter Wright - 2/9
  • Kim Huybrechts - 3-1

Our prediction: If Huybrechts can produce the same levels as he did at this stage last year then Snakebite will need to step up a gear to something resembling his very best to avoid elimination. However, we still think the defending champion will have enough in the tank to get through. Score = Wright 4-2 Huybrechts.

4. Gary Anderson vs Chris Dobey

Gary Anderson comes alive at the Alexandra Palace no matter how many times he is written off. For the second year running the bookies have placed him way behind the favourites and last year he made it all the way to the semis and was beaten by the eventual winner. He’s reached four of the last eight finals and is a two time world champion.

That being said, what a match it should be against ‘Hollywood’ Chris Dobey. The Geordie has reached the Last 16 of this competition three of the last four years and will be looking to do the same yet again. He had a tough second round opponent in Martijn Kleermarker and was given a good game despite the eventual 3-0 win.

Match odds:

  • Gary Anderson - 4/5
  • Chris Dobey - 1/1

Our prediction: Our thinking is in line with the oddsmakers on this one, there seems to be very little to separate the two players but we give the slightest of edges to Anderson. Score = Anderson 4-3 Dobey

5. Joe Cullen vs Damon Heta

Cullen had a long wait to get his competition underway, finally beginning with the last match of the second round where he beat Ricky Evans 3-1 with an impressive display. The Masters winner and Premier League runner-up hasn’t always had the best success at the Ally Pally and his best ever finish is reaching the Last 16 in 2021. There is no reason to doubt him at this stage but he certainly looks vulnerable, especially against a very good fourth round opponent.

Damon Heta has been consistent in major TV events this year, reaching the latter stages of a few, and looks like he is closing in on pushing that bit further towards semi-finals and finals. He was the star of the World Cup of Darts where he and Simon Whitlock won the trophy for Australia for the very first time and this feels like one of the best chances of an upset (a term that actually feels harsh on Heta) in the next stage.

Match odds:

  • Joe Cullen - 10/11
  • Damon Heta - 10/11

Our prediction: We’re going to stick our neck out here and go for an upset (if you can call it that, the bookies can’t split them) as there’s a feeling that Heta can take out the world number 13 that we just can’t shake. Score = Heta 4-2 Cullen.