Freddie Turner is your guide to the PDC World Darts Championship, as he guides you the men you need to watch out for at this year’s event.
With the festive season upon us, it can only mean one things for Darts fans; the PDC World Darts Championship at the Alexandra Palace. Whilst many ‘non-believers’ see overweight lager louts as the antithesis of sportsmen and fail to understand the hype, others will be glued to the action which starts on 13 December and carries on until the winner is crowned on New Year’s Day 2014. Three weeks of pure unadulterated sporting drama await with cracking fancy dress and a great atmosphere to boot.
So with the scene set, who are the contenders for the crown?
Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor
It would be a brave man to ever bet against The Power. With 14 of the 20 PDC World Championship crowns to his name, his pedigree is unrivalled. Already a legend of the sport, it has been another stellar season for the Stoke man, as the reigning world champion secured the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix, Grand Slam and UK open titles. However, he failed to retain his Premier League crown and also lost in the final of the most recent ‘Players Championship’ tournament, both times losing out to Van Gerwen. Is this a sign of things to come, or is there life in the old dog yet?
Michael Van Gerwen (Mighty Mike)
For a while MVG has been tipped as a future world champion and this could very well be his year. At 24, the Dutchman is nearly three decades younger than Taylor but has gone toe to toe with him for most of the year. He has proven himself to be the undisputed second best darts player in the world this year, winning the coveted Premier League crown, beating Taylor in the final and repeating this feet a couple of weeks ago to secure the Players Championship. At times his fast paced high scoring style can be unplayable but he will need to be even more consistent to take his first world title.
Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis
A controversial figure, whose moody persona is often greeted with boos from the crowd, yet unquestionably talented. The 2011 and 2012 PDC World Champion has already shown he has the ability to take the crown and the world number three will be hoping to make it a third title. He was devastated to lose to Van Gerwen in an amazing quarter final last year and will no doubt be seeking revenge this year, after what has been by his high standards a quiet season.
James ’The Machine’ Wade
One of darts’ nearly men over the past few seasons, Wade is always there or thereabouts. Last year was Wade’s third world championship semi-final but he is still yet to make a final. It seems he lacks the cutting edge to beat the very best, with no final appearances in any of the majors this season. However, Wade is a fearsome competitor and perhaps it is time for a shock win for the popular left hander from Hampshire.
Raymond ‘Barney’ Van Barneveld
An iconic figure and fans favourite, there most certainly wouldn’t be a more popular winner than Barney. The ‘Barney army’ will no doubt be out in force once more willing the gentle giant to victory. Last year he nearly overcome his nemesis Taylor in the semi-final but just came up short in his quest to secure a second PDC world title. His place on this list is perhaps for sentimental reasons, as his 2013 form hints at an early exit for the much loved Dutchman.
Simon ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Whitlock
It has been a brilliant few weeks of sport for the green and gold of Australia, with a Rugby League world cup win and an unbelievable Ashes revival; perhaps it would only be fitting for Simon Whitlock to carry on this streak. The bearded ‘wizard’ is a methodical character, capable of playing some stellar darts, with his doubles being a real strong point. If he finds his range on the trebles, he will be a serious contender.
It would be very surprising if the winner didn’t come from this shortlist but this tournament has a habit of coughing up huge surprises, with twists and turns a plenty. Cult heroes may well be born and epic battles at the ‘oche’ will be fought. Whether you’re an avid darts fan or a complete newcomer, get it on your TV this Christmas – you will not be disappointed.bookmark me