Tomorrow sees the start of the 22nd World Darts Championship played over 14 days at Alexandra Palace, with the winner scooping £250,000 in prize money and the Sid Waddell Trophy.
Out of the 72 players, including preliminary round qualifiers, ten have won a World Title before. Michael Van Gerwin won here last year, whilst Stephen Bunting won at Frimley Green to win the BDO World Title, before switching codes. If Bunting won here, however unlikely, he would become the first person to hold the BDO and PDC titles concurrently.
I have been working out the potential of latter stage matches to find any value other than the two favourites. No surprise when I predict Michael Van Gerwin to reach the final from the top half of the draw. It may be more surprising to get James Wade from the trickier looking bottom half.
|Michael Van Gerwin Predicted Route||James Wade Predicted Route|
|Joe Cullen (1R)||Jamie Lewis (1R)|
|Stuart Kellett (2R)||Stephen Bunting (2R)|
|Justin Pipe (3R)||Brendan Dolan (3R)|
|Robert Thornton (QF)||Adrian Lewis (QF)|
|Gary Anderson (SF)||Phil Taylor (SF)|
|James Wade (F)||Michael Van Gerwin (F)|
When you look at those routes, you will see how difficult the bottom half of the draw is to predict. To think that Adrian Lewis could face Raymond Van Barneveld in the Third Round shows how difficult it is to predict and with players putting in extra practice and effort for the main event of the season it is wide open.
It may come as a surprise to many that Phil Taylor is not a selection, however this is because of his personal reasons away from the board. He won the Grand Slam of Darts despite his mother being unwell in hospital and used that as motivation, he could use it again here but I feel that it may have taken something out of him. Despite that he is doing more away from the board to boost performance such as exercise and diet, which will be useful in the latter stages.
James Wade is 16/1, which looks tempting considering the Machine’s return to form in recent tournaments. He has won the Unibet Masters, beating Mervyn King 11-10 after trailing 9-2. In the run to the final he beat Dolan, Lewis and Taylor proving he can beat the ‘big boys’ to win a title. He also finished as runner up in the World Grand Prix where he lost to Michael Van Gerwen.
Michael Van Gerwin is 11/4 (WH), whilst Betfair have boosted him to 3/1. His run is still tricky. He could face the slow paced Justin Pipe, which could cause him problems, as he won’t be able to find as much rhythm as usual, but after that potentially playing Thornton and then a much-improved Gary Anderson, will play into his hands.
Even though he could face Van Gerwen in the semi-final Gary Anderson is 7/1 and is much improved in recent weeks and won the Players Championship Finals at Minehead beating Adrian Lewis 11-6 in the final. He recently said that he has rediscovered his love for the sport and is one I would consider, especially as he is a big scorer.
Away from the obvious big players, Mervyn King at 80/1 is appealing, with him finding some form of late; he could face a quarter final against Phil Taylor then a semi-final against James Wade, where he would look for revenge after defeat in the Unibet Masters. If he overcomes those then reaching the final beating players of that calibre would spur him on and at that price, if backed each-way, cannot be sniffed at.
Away from the outright tournament winner
In both of the 2013 and 2014 World Championships there have two nine dart finishes. Two or more nine dart finishes this year is priced at 11/4.
Again there have been two 170 checkouts in previous years. 1-2 170 Checkouts is 6/4. But every year the standard improves, so at a slightly bigger price 3-4 170 Checkouts is 7/4.
There is a market for the winner of each quarter of the draw. For me the winners of each quarter are Michael Van Gerwen (8/15), Phil Taylor (2/5), James Wade (7/2) and Gary Anderson (evens).
James Wade – 16/1 (e/w)
Mervyn King – 80/1 (e/w)
Straight forecast: MVG 1st and Wade 2nd – 22/1
Two or more nine dart finishes – 11/4
3-4 170 Checkouts – 7/4