The Alexandra Palace is what Christmas is really all about with 14 days of festive tungsten tussles that can’t be matched.
Second favourite Michael van Gerwen (MVG) begins the defence of his crown on Thursday (Dec 18) in what could be the most competitive World Championships so far with the top five in the betting all winning major TV tournaments this year.
Likeable Scot Gary Anderson (below) has been terrific this year winning seven pro-tour events as well as his brilliant Players Championship victory which involved 100+ plus averages throughout the tournament and Phil Taylor’s scalp.
The last two winners of the Players Championship (Phil Taylor & MVG) went on to win at Ally Pally so could this be Gary Anderson’s year?
He’s got a favourable draw and avoids the likes of Taylor, Adrian Lewis, James Wade and Stephen Bunting until the final.
There’s a potential semi-final clash with reigning champ MVG and the Scot might fancy some revenge after blowing a 3-1 sets lead last year against the Dutch ace in the third round. That was the catalyst that saw Anderson up his game.
BDO World Champion Stephen Bunting (22/1) will be looking to go deep in this tournament to secure a place in the Premier League.
The only time Adrian Lewis (11/1) has shown any real consistency this year was back in March when he won the UK Open. The World Championship is the big one that has alluded James Wade (16/1) (below) so far in his career.
Wade has been in excellent form of late earning a World Grand Prix final in Dublin and throwing a nine-darter along the way and finally a win over Phil Taylor in the quarter finals.
He then went onto clinch The Masters in November which included a semi final win against the Power and an unbelievable comeback against Mervyn King from 9:2 down to win 11-10 in the final.
It’s unlikely that the winner is going to come from outside the top five in the betting – but for me the victor has to be Phil ‘the Power’ Taylor (below).
The Power may seem like a short price at 2/1 but he was odds on last year at this stage. To put that in context Gary Anderson was 33/1 at the start of year and is now 6/1 with Paddy Power.
A Taylor v Anderson final is possible but my money would be on Taylor every time with the Scot only ever managing one win over him in a televised knock-out competition since his World Darts Trophy victory in 2007 (Players Championship 2014).
He made a bad error of judgment switching sponsors from Unicorn to Target last year – when he was playing some of the best darts of his career.
The Stoke native has looked vulnerable at times this season trying to adapt to his new equipment most notably getting white-washed by van Gerwen on the first night of the Premier League and at the UK Open losing to unknown Aden Kirk.
He hasn’t been at his most ruthless, missing some crucial doubles and losing to opponents who he bossed for years (Anderson and Wade).
Despite this he’s still added the World Matchplay and Grand Slam of Darts to his tally. The Power hasn’t been as dominant at The Alexandra Palace compared to The Circus Tavern where he won 11 out of 12 World Championships from 1995 to 2006.
Bully Boy Michael Smith famously knocked him out in the second round last year which paved the way for Mighty Mike to capture his first World title – and take The Power’s World No.1 ranking.
I’m betting on that disappointment fueling a very focused and determined Phil Taylor this year. Don’t expect to see any frailties on the way to a a record breaking 17th PDC World Championship.
Bit of value
I prefer to look for an outside value bet in the round one matches rather than place accumulators. World Youth Championship runner up Rowby-John Rodriguez has the ability to cause an upset against Raymond van Barneveld as does Darren Webster against Simon Whitlock.
It is going to be a fascinating fortnight with all the action live on Sky Sports Darts.
- Outright Winner – Phil Taylor @ 2/1
- PDC/BDO Double – P Taylor & James Wilson @ 20/1
- Quarter Betting – James Wade @ 10/3
- Quarter Betting – Gary Anderson @ 4/5
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