The festive season is approaching us rather quickly, and while mince pies, turkey and presents are the main items synonymous with it, the same can also be said of the PDC World Darts Championship. Fancy dress will be rife. Many pints of beer will be seen off. And, perhaps most importantly, the heady heights of world class darts will be on display yet again.
Last year, Phil Taylor was victorious for an unprecedented 16th time after defeating the up and coming Dutchman Michael van Gerwen 7-4 in a thrilling final (a match where both players averaged over 100). In spite of Taylor’s age and huge accolades, there is still no stopping in his determination to go out and win yet another world title. Consequently, he is the bookies favourite yet again, and it seems difficult to place money elsewhere.
However, there are other contenders for the £250,000 cash prize down at the Ally Pally. The aforementioned van Gerwen came of age earlier this year after winning the Premier League Darts, which is a terrific achievement given his comparable lack of experience to the other seven best players in world darts. Mighty Mike’s rapid playing style and his adrenaline pumped air-headbutt celebrations make him a definite maverick and player to be feared. He will only improve by age.
Adrian Lewis is another name that can be thrown into the hat. His form since his victory in the 2012 tournament has been patchy due to personal circumstances due to starting a family. However, the recent match up with Taylor in the Grand Slam of Darts was officially the highest quality darts match in history with Lewis averaging 109 and losing. Despite the loss, Jackpot showed he is capable of given the best of the best a tough game.
James Wade is another player who can be regarded in high esteem. Wade seems to be one of those “nearly men” in sport, akin to the likes of David Coulthard, Colin Montgomerie, Tim Henman etc. He has always showcased his natural ability on the oche, but has never quite achieved what his true ability should allow him to.
One player who I would keep an eye on is Dave Chisnall. Chizzy Rascal thrashed Phil Taylor in the 2012 World Championship despite being relatively unknown. Since then, he has risen well up the PDC Order of Merit and has won three rankings titles this year. He is the dark horse of 2013.
Whoever wins the tournament, the Christmas and New Year’s period is thankful to welcome back one of the most entertaining, enthralling and highly skilled sports around.
Image courtesy of the Telegraph