‘Logs on the fire, gifts on the tree and darts on TV’, so sang Cliff Richard in his festive chart-topper Mistletoe & Wine. Okay, so he didn’t, but nothing quite sets the scene for some Christmas sluggishness in front of the box having eaten too much than an afternoon of darts.
The sport’s premier competition, the PDC World Championship, runs from December 15-January 2, and is the perfect accompaniment to festive excess – for TV viewers and punters alike.
We plan on being the only resource you need leading up to the tournament, and with the first round draw being announced yesterday we can start to form some early opinions about the who’s, why’s, how’s and hell no’s.
Taylor Torture Courtesy of MVG?
Make no mistake, 16-time world champion Phil Taylor still throws a mean dart, but the main side effect of his slight slump in stature in the game is that his new world ranking of four means that he can no longer avoid a certain Michael van Gerwen in the draw.
As we know, the number one seed plays the number four in the semi-finals if they should both make it to that stage, and that sets up a rather tasty potential clash between Taylor and the Dutchman in the last four.
The Power has a pretty decent record against MVG of late, but realistically there is only one player that punters should be backing if they do meet and that’s the folically-challenged tungsten tosser from the Netherlands that has captured an astonishing 25 titles this season.
Wright Delight for Peter
Whether this was a factor or not, climbing up to number three in the world rankings means a number three seeding for the World Championship; and also a place in the opposite side of the draw to messrs Van Gerwen and Taylor.
So Peter Wright will be full of Christmas cheer heading to the Alexandra Palace, and why not given the agreeable nature of his draw.
The toughest test in his quarter will be James Wade; a classy operator on his day but one that Wright will surely fancy beating over the longer distance of a best-of-six sets contest. The Scot has been in outstanding form of late, and as a former world finalist the anticipation of a decent run to the business end of the competition will not faze him. Then, a potential last four date with reigning champion Gary Anderson (more on him later) awaits.
At a general mark of 16/1, Wright offers exceptional each way value.
Quarter from Hell for Flying Scotsman
Being a two-time, back-to-back champion of the world, you could forgive Gary Anderson for hoping for a few liberties from the draw, but it has been rather unkind to the Flying Scotsman it has to be said.
Lurking in quarter three are the likes of Benito Van Der Pas, multiple Pro Tour event winner this term, Chris Dobey – the Grand Slam of Darts quarter-finalist, the outstanding (on his day) Jelle Klaasen, and then the uber-slow stylings of Justin Pipe and Brendan Dolan – the kind of pace Anderson is widely noted as hating playing against, plus the threat of Players Championship finalist Dave Chisnall.
Factor in potential semi-final meetings with Wright/Wade and a final date with Van Gerwen/Taylor, AND knowing that he isn’t playing particularly well at the minute, and the size of the task facing the world number two is rather daunting, to say the least.
If you are the kind of punter that dabbles in the exchanges, laying Anderson at around 8.00 is a sensible investment.