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The big one is just around the corner, with the PDC World Darts Championship set to take place at Alexandra Palace over the Christmas period. It’s arguably the most anticipated tournament on the PDC calendar, and Michael van Gerwen comes into it off the back of four consecutive televised tournament wins.
However, it’s a 72 player-strong field, and the likes of sixteen-time World Champion Phil Taylor, and reigning World Champion Gary Anderson will be doing all they can to prevent the Dutchman making it five out of five. There’s £300,000 up for grabs for the winner of the William Hill sponsored event, and it all kicks off on the 17th of December.
The competition runs right through the festive period, with the final set to be played on the 3rd of January. The top 32 players on the PDC order of merit after the Players Championship Finals will be joined by the 16 highest non-qualified players from the Pro Tour order of merit, based on events during the PDC 2015 Pro Tour.
The rest of the field is made up of two PDPA qualifiers and 22 international players – the four highest names on the European order of merit, if not already qualified, and 18 further international qualifiers as determined by the PDC and the PDPA. The top Australian and American players go straight into the first round, with others entering in the preliminary round having won qualifiers in their individual countries. Thai player Thanawat Gaweenuntawong will become the first player from Thailand ever to compete in a PDC World Championship.
Four Up For MVG
We backed him again to win the Players Championship Finals last weekend, and once again he came good by beating Adrian Lewis 11-6 to take his fourth title in a row. Mighty Mike has been in magnificent form just lately, and that brought up a four-timer including the European Championship, the Grand Slam of Darts, and the World Series of Darts. He had to survive a scare in the first round of the Players Championship at Minehead, finally getting the better of World Youth Champion Keegan Brown, but he never looked back after that. He beat friend and countryman Vincent van der Voort 10-6 in the next round, then eased past Dave Chisnall 10-7 in the quarter finals.
Northern Irish player Daryl Gurney had a cracking tournament to reach the semi final, but he was no match for MVG as the Dutchman demolished him 11-2 to set up the final with Jackpot Adrian Lewis. In this sort of form Mighty Mike is hard to abandon, and there’s no real reason why he can’t bring up the famous five in a row. The big dangers in his half of the draw look to be Adrian Lewis and Peter Wright, but these are the two men who MVG has beaten in the last two tournament finals.
Who Else Can Win?
Well, there’s always a chance that van Gerwen has an off-day, and his victory here is by no means guaranteed. In the other half of the draw both Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor look to have reasonable routes to the latter stages, and if either can find that little bit of form they could be very dangerous.
Those sort of odds on the Power would have been snapped up at this time last year, and it’s a measure of his indifferent form that the bookies are happy to take him on. However, he is more than just at home at Alexandra Palace – he’s won the world title an astonishing sixteen times, and was unfortunate to lose out 7-6 to Gary Anderson in last year’s final, despite scoring a higher average than his opponent.
Taylor will open his account against Keita Ono or Alex Tagarao, and shouldn’t have any difficulty reaching the quarter finals at least. He could end up facing Anderson in the semi final if both make it that far, but Taylor has shown glimpses that he is back to his best recently, and he’s worth a small side bet on an each way basis.
He didn’t fare so well in last week’s Players Championship, going out 6-5 in the first round to Anderson, but he had shown improved form in the prior World Series of Darts, cruising past Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting before going down 11-9 to Peter Wright in the semi final, despite posting an average of over 104. If he can retain that level throughout this tournament he has every chance, and there are no early banana skins so he should be able to ease his way into it.
Adrian Lewis will have his supporters – he loves it here after winning back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012, and he also went all the way to the final in Minehead. However, he is in the top half of the draw with Michael van Gerwen, while he also has the likes of Peter Wright and Dave Chisnall in his quarter of the draw. That suggests he will have to overcome big quarter and semi final opponents before even reaching a final, and it’s enough to put us off.
Peter Wright has also been knocking on the door over the last year or two, but the same applies as he’s in the same quarter as Lewis. The bottom half of the draw looks much kinder, and either Taylor or Anderson have a great chance of getting through to the final. How they fare if MVG is waiting for them is another matter, but on value grounds it has to be the Power.
Michael van Gerwen to win the World Darts Championship
17th December – 3rd January
Odds: 7/4 2.75 +175 1.75 1.75 -0.57
Phil Taylor to win the World Darts Championship (Each Way)
17th December – 3rd January
Odds: 5/1 6.00 +500 5.00 5.00 -0.20