The wait is finally over and the PDC World Darts Championship gets underway at the Alexandra Palace in London this week. The 96 strong field will compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and a cheque for €500,000 in an event that has been running since 1994 and has been won by only eight different players. But who will take the title this year?
What’s New this year?
It will be the first time darts legend and sixteen-time World Champion Phil Taylor will not be competing in the event. Taylor has set the darting benchmark over the past three decades and the competition won’t be the same without him. To spice things up a bit this year an additional 24 extra players have been added including two women: Anastasia Dobromyslova and Lisa Ashton. The top 32 seeded players also get a bye to the second round of fixtures.
It’s no surprise to see World Number One Michael Van Gerwen head the market at (2.72), and he has proved easy to back of late. But MVG has failed to win a big event since the World Grand Prix in October, which is a considerable drought for a player of his ability. The money has come for Gary Anderson (4.8) who bids to win the PDC World Championship for the third time.
Both players are on the same side of the draw and if things go to plan they could meet in a mouth-watering semi-final clash. There is a sizable gap to the remaining competitors in the market with Peter Wright available at 16.0, Michael Smith at 17.0 and last years winner Rob Cross at 28.0.
The Four Quarters
The draw is broken up into four quarters with each quarter of the draw comprised of a series of three knockout rounds before a quarterfinal showdown. There’s a ton of potential highlights from these so let’s crack on and get stuck into the action.
Michael Van Gerwen is favourite at 1.55, but it’s no certainty that the World Number One progresses from this with several tricky opponents standing in his way. James Wade is one he won’t face until the quarter-final, but is an interesting competitor.
Wade has come back to form this year with wins in the European Championship and the World Series of Darts.
This tournament has not been kind to ‘The Machine’ in the past and he will need a change of fortune if he is to win his first World Championship title.
Although they are not having the best of seasons so far, both Simon Whitlock and dual World Champion winner Adrian Lewis are also dangerous rivals and can serve it up to anyone on their day.
Raymond Van Barneveld is due to meet MVG in the last 16, the same stage where he beat him in 2016. Barney also got the better of his fellow countryman 10-8 in the World Series of Darts in October so although the 2007 World Champion knows the task will be difficult, it most definitely is not impossible. Could we be in store for an early shock?
Gary Anderson is the highest seed in this section and the Flying Scotsman will be keen to make amends after his relatively early exit to Phil Taylor last year. He won this event in successive years in 2015 and 2016 and has enjoyed a great season having won the World Matchplay, UK Open and Champions League of Darts. The World No. 2 is many people’s idea of the 2019 champion and a potential clash with MVG en route could be one for darts fans to savour.
Daryl Gurney arrives in sublime form after an impressive victory over MVG to claim the Players Championship last month. The Northern Irishman will relish a potential clash with Anderson, who he destroyed in the Grand Prix quarterfinal, before breaking his major duck.
An interesting stat for fans of Gurney is that the winner of the Players Championship has gone on to win the World Championship in four of the last six years. Despite that, he is available to back at (40.0).
Other players to look out for here are the high scoring Dave Chisnall and last year’s shock semi-finalist Jamie Lewis who will be eager for another bold showing this time around.
- Tip – Back Daryl Gurney to win the Second Quarter at (7.4)
The Third Quarter is not lacking in depth and the betting suggests it will be highly competitive. Michael Smith showed his class this year by making it to the Premier League and World Series final along with winning the Shanghai Darts Masters and ‘Bully Boy’ looks primed to fulfil the darting potential he has shown from an early age.
If he progresses from this quarter he will avoid MVG and Anderson until the final which is a huge positive for his chances.
Mensur Suljovic is an opponent no one will want to take on in this quarter. ‘The Gentle’ served up one of the games of the season when losing 21-19 to Anderson in a classic World Matchplay final. And although he is in decent form the Austrian has to overcome a poor record at the World Championships where he is yet to reach the quarter-final stage.
It’s safe to say Rob Cross has not progressed after his dominant display against Phil Taylor to win the World Championship last year. The 28-year-old has struggled this year but a return to anything near his best would see him go far again. Rising stars Dimitri Van Den Bergh and Jefferey De Zwann are also sure to have a say in a World Championship title down the line, but lack of experience on the big stage could make them vulnerable to the more established players.
- Tip – Back Michael Smith to win the World Championship outright at 17.0
Peter Wright suffered a surprise second-round defeat here last year but his record prior to that was consistent. He made the quarterfinals in his previous four efforts including a 2014 final defeat at the hands of MVG.
Despite his inconsistency of late, the Scot is short priced at 2.65 to win the fourth and weakest quarter and he looks opposable here.
Gerwyn Price put a poor Premier League showing behind him by winning his first major PDC event this year beating Anderson in a controversial Grand Slam final. The ‘Iceman’ didn’t back that impressive display up and got dumped out of the Players Championship in the first round, blowing a 5-1 lead to Krzysztof Ratajski and again didn’t gain any fans by his actions on the oche.
Things are beginning to come together for Joe Cullen who made it to the World Matchplay quarter-final and followed that up with an impressive European Championship semi-final finish.
The ‘Rockstar’ will need a change of luck at the World Championship but he has the game to do so and I expect the Englishman to put it up to some of the leading contenders in this quarter.
- Tip – Back Joe Cullen to win the Fourth Quarter at (9.6)
There has been a total of Ten Nine Dart Finishes at the PDC World Darts Championship and expect that figure to rise this week due to the abundance of quality players taking part and the additional matches this year. This looks a great bet at (2.0) and who wants to back against the magical Nine Dart finish anyway?
There have been five different winners of this event in the last seven years so it’s clear that no one is dominating the game like Phil Taylor once did. Rob Cross was a first time winner last year and an interesting angle into the First time winner market is the bottom half of the draw contains just a single previous winner.
If Cross does not progress you are guaranteed to have a 3.5 shot in the final not to mention all the other players on your side in the top half such as Gurney, Wade, Whitlock and Chisnall.
- Back Michael Smith to win the World Championship Outright at 17.0
- Back Daryl Gurney to win the Second Quarter at 7.4
- Back Joe Cullen to win the Fourth Quarter at 9.6
- Back a Nine Dart finish at 2.0
- Back a First Time Winner at 3.5
Matchbook’s Jesse May and Aidan Barry are joined by Betting Emporium’s Nigel Seeley and 3 time PDC finalist Peter Manley to discuss the outright and R1 match-ups. Listen below and search for the Matchbook Betting Podcast on your preferred podcasting app.