PDC World Darts Championship: Can anyone stop Michael van Gerwen?
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the PDC World Darts Championship, which gets underway this Friday. If last year’s event was bigger, better and more dramatic than ever, then this year’s tournament could go one better, with plenty of strong contenders vying to get their hands on the Sid Waddell trophy.
How do the favourites stack up?
There are no prizes for guessing Michael van Gerwen is once again clear favourite to win the World Championship. The reigning champion is aiming for a fourth world title, and after an indifferent 2018 by his high standards, ‘Mighty Mike’ has been back to his near dominant self in 2019. He’s won five out of the nine major televised tournaments, which is why he’s as short as 6/5 to retain his crown with most bookies.
Welshman Gerwyn Price has been in irresistible form in the past few months, putting him second favourite at 5/1. The ‘Iceman’ thrashed Peter Wright 16-6 to retain the Grand Slam last month and has competed in two other major finals and a semi-final since October. Price is certainly one of the form men at the moment, but will have to improve on his dismal World Championship record, where he is yet to get past the third round.
Third favourite Rob Cross has added World Matchplay and European Championship silverware this year, to go along with his World Championship trophy won in 2018. ‘Voltage’ has also reached two other finals, including finishing runner-up in the Premier League, and you can get odds as long as 16/1 with Sky Bet, Ladbrokes and William Hill. You certainly wouldn’t rule him out of being a serious contender.
Elsewhere, two-time champion Gary Anderson is way back in sixth favourite with the bookies, at odds as long as 25/1 with plenty of early round exits in 2019 making it one of his worst for many a year. With health issues catching up with him, it’s hard to make much of a case for the ‘Flying Scotsman.'
Who are the dark horses?
After talking up Price earlier, one man who could stop him is three-time BDO World Champion Glen Durrant. ‘Duzza’ has had an excellent breakthrough year in the PDC, with three semi-final appearances and a memorable victory against van Gerwen at the World Matchplay. Durrant could meet Price in the quarter-finals, providing both get that far, and would prove a real barrier for the Welshman. He is 33/1 with most bookies to go all the way, but if you feel that’s a bit of a stretch, 8/1 with Ladbrokes for Durrant to win quarter four, might be what you’re looking for in terms of value.
A wide open draw in the second quarter gives Nathan Aspinall a great chance to repeat his heroic semi-final appearance of last year. A 500/1 outsider at that World Championship in 2019, Aspinall has gone from strength to strength this year, culminating in a stunning UK Open final win against Cross, and although he might have to face Anderson before taking on last year’s finalist Michael Smith in the quarter-finals, both aren’t players Aspinall should be fearing in the slightest.
This year’s tournament is the last time we’ll see Raymond van Barneveld before he finally retires. The 2007 champion Barney, has been in decline these past couple of years which has ultimately led to him announcing his retirement after this tournament.
He faces American Darin Young – who has never got past the last 32 - in the first round, and is 1/5 on to face a tricky Jeffrey de Zwaan next up. Sky Bet is offering 200/1 for Barney to complete a fairytale sporting story - he couldn’t, could he?
By Iqbal Johal