It is the jewel in darts’ crown; the Christmas gift that keeps on giving (for a fortnight or so, anyway). The PDC World Championships, held at the competition’s new home of Alexandra Palace in London, promises thrills, spills and heart-stopping excitement in abundance. And that’s just the walk on girls….
A whole host of household names and those less familiar will do battle, all with the aim of usurping defending champion Gary Anderson and ripping his crown away from him. Michael Van Gerwen is the hot favourite of course after claiming the last two big TV tournaments, but there’s a long way to go between the start of the tournament on December 17 and the final on January 3.
Because we’re kind, we’ve scanned through the first round fixtures and picked out a 10/1 accumulator that will help your Christmas celebrations go with a bang!
Cristo Reyes to beat Wes Newton (8/11)
It was at the Alexandra Palace last year that Cristo Reyes burst onto the scene. Previously unknown, he won through the Spanish qualifiers to enter the Worlds in the preliminary round, and after a routine victory he met this year’s opponent Wes Newton in the first round.
Reyes won 3-2 in sets, beat Kevin Painter in the next round and was only halted by Gary Anderson in the last 16. His progress has been upwards ever since, with two nine darters on the tour this year, while Newton has been in the doldrums for much of 2015. His last big performance came at the Masters in March, and it is perhaps no wonder that the Spaniard is favourite for this one.
John Henderson to beat Darren Webster (4/5)
It has been a decent year for Big John Henderson on tour, with some stellar performances in the Players’ Championship events backed with a runner’s up spot at the German Masters and a quarter final appearance at the European Championships just a matter of weeks ago. He is scoring heavily and finishing well, and heads to the Ally Pally in decent form.
There have been a few quarter final berths for the ‘Demolition Man’ Darren Webster this term too, but only in the smaller Players’ Championship events. This could be a close game, but ‘Hendo’s’ greater finishing power should see him through.
Dave Chisnall to beat Rowby-John Rodriguez (1/5)
It is testament to his progress in the PDC that Dave Chisnall is now considered a potential tournament winner, and he starts his World Championship campaign with a fixture against the inexperienced Rodriguez.
It has been another good year for Chizzy, who reached the last four of the Premier League, threw a nine darter at the Grand Slam and reached the latter stages of many big events. For Rodriguez, it is clear the 21-year-old is still learning his craft in big televised tournaments and Chisnall should have too much firepower for him here.
Jelle Klaasen to beat Joe Cullen (1/3)
Jelle Klaasen is a former BDO world champion and is starting to show glimpses of his very best form after a period in the doldrums. He has reached the last 32 – at the least – at the UK Open, World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and the European Championship, and almost defeated eventual champion Gary Anderson in last year’s Worlds.
Joe Cullen is an improving young talent, but it speaks volumes that the two largest pay days in his career to date have been the prize money earned just for appearing in the first round of the World Championship.
Kyle Anderson to beat Brendan Dolan (8/11)
A run to the last 16 at the World Matchplay and the Masters identified Kyle Anderson as a player to watch, and his performances in the World Series of Darts events cemented that notion. His career is in the ascendency at the moment, while for Brendan Dolan the opposite is true.
The ‘History Maker’ has only won two televised singles matches in 2015, and after a stellar 2014 it has been something of a comedown for the Irishman. Usually in tight matches like these it is form and confidence that are the key factors, and Anderson has the edge in both departments.
Kim Huybrechts to beat Dave Pallett (2/9)
There is a theory that Kim Huybrechts is on the verge of breaking into the big time. Ranked as high as 12 in the world, the Belgian put in some decent performances in the Premier League and was perhaps unlucky to be knocked out at the first stage, and a series of final appearances in Players’ Championship events confirm his meteoric rise. The Hurricane recently lifted the European Darts Grand Prix trophy, so boasts current form too.
Dave Pallett’s biggest pay day of the 2015 campaign will be the £10,000 he pockets just for turning up at the Alexandra Palace, and while he is a talented young player with prior World Championship experience you would expect Huybrechts to have too much in the locker for the world number 48.