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Micheal Van Gerwen looks a great bet to repeat his PDC World Championship win of last season, but we suggest splitting your bets between ‘Mighty Mike’ and controversial former champion, Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis.
The PDC World Championship is the sport’s biggest tournament and will take place over 14 days of the festive period. The preliminary and first round matches will begin on 18th December, and after 20 sessions of darts, the winner will eventually be crowned after the final on 4th January 2015. Seventy-two players will do battle for the £1.25 million prize fund, and the chance to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy. The draw has been made, and predictably, first and second seeds Michael Van Gerwen and Phil Taylor dominate the betting ahead of the tournament.
Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor is the 16-time world champion, and after a sterling season in which he has won the World Match play and Grand Slam of Darts titles, it’s easy to see why. His participation in the tournament was thrown into doubt last week after news that his mother was in hospital, but Taylor confirmed that he would still take his place in the line up of the showpiece of darts. He was shocked by Michael Smith in the second round last year, and coming into the tournament as second seed, he will be in the ‘tougher’ half of the draw. He’s one of the most talented players to throw a dart, but will have to show his best to come through the side of the draw which also contains Adrian Lewis, James Wade and Stephen Bunting. There’s no telling what effect his family circumstances may have on his level of play, and although Taylor admits darts is an ‘escapism’ for him, it’s difficult to imagine how he will be able to focus on the tournament. He would be an overwhelmingly popular winner, however, and most neutrals will probably find themselves rooting for ‘The Power’ somewhere along the way.
‘Mighty Mike’ won his first World Championship title in January this year, and he is worth backing to retain the trophy in the New Year. Despite suffering shock defeats to Terry Jenkins (Players Championship finals) and Kim Huybrechts (Grand Slam), he has added the World Grand Prix and European Chamionship titles to his impressive haul this season, and arrives in confident mood. He has performed well in the last two Alexandra Palace tournaments, finishing runner-up to Phil Taylor in the epic final two years ago, before going one better last time. He is in the favourable half of the draw (on paper, at least), and his biggest danger en route to the final could come from Scotsman, Gary Anderson. It feels like Van Gerwen has been around forever, but he can still be considered the rising talent of the sport. His breakthrough only came in 2012 when he rose to 4th in the world rankings, and at 24, he became the youngest ever player to win the PDC World Championship when he took the title last year. He’s a fast-paced player and a heavy scorer, and can simply be too powerful for many opponents. We could have a repeat of the final from two years ago, with the young pretender up against the experienced champ in Phil Taylor; but this time around, the Dutchman may just come out on top.
Each way backers can take advantage of half the odds for a first-two finish with ‘Jackpot’ Adrian Lewis. It’s been a relatively poor season for the English player, but he came back to form in the recent Players Championship finals, where he reached the final before going down 11-6 to Gary Anderson. He won the PDC World Championship in 2011 and 2012, and bids to make it a hat-trick of wins this time around. He was beaten in the quarter final in 2013, and the semi final last year, both times by Van Gerwen. He’s on the opposite side of the draw to the Dutch star in this year’s tournament, so cannot face him until the final. That would be enough to secure a nice each-way profit, although it does also mean he will have to overcome Phil Taylor in the semi final, if both men make it that far. He certainly has a welcoming route to the semi final, with former champion Raymond Van Barneveld and three-time semi finalist, James Wade, his biggest dangers along the way. Lewis is the number 3 seed coming into the tournament, and if his recent upturn in form can be sustained throughout the festive period, he could be a lively each-way contender for the title.
Wade is among a clutch of players behind the front two who could spring a shock if Taylor and Van Gerwen don’t take the trophy between them, and the others to consider include:
James Wade – +1600 with Paddy Power
‘The Machine’ snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Mervyn King to win the Unibet Masters in November, and could come here rejuvenated after being excused from the Premier League earlier this year.
Gary Anderson – +700 with Betfred
The Flying Scotsman won the Player Championship this year, beating Adrian Lewis in the final – the man who beat him in the World Championship final four years ago. He’s seeded 4th for the tournament, but will most likely have to overcome Van Gerwen in the semi-final if he is to go all the way.
Stephen Bunting – +2200 with Paddy Power
The 2014 Lakeside champion makes his Alexandra Palace debut after his switch to the PDC, and although he is only ranked 27th, he could be a decent outside shot at a big price. He has already beaten Taylor in 2014, but could face a succession of tough opponents with James Wade his likely second round match up.
To win the PDC World Championship
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