We’re down to the semi-final stage at the PDC World Darts Championship, and the identities of three of the four players left are fairly unsurprising – of course MvG is there, and his expected opponent in the final, Gerwyn Price, has also made it. These two men will have to beat tough opposition in the semis, however, with Price facing his close friend and one of 2019’s most persistent competitors, Peter Wright. In the other semi, van Gerwen faces Nathan Aspinall, the world number twelve, who will be competing in the last four for a second consecutive year.
This has already been a fascinating edition of darts’ biggest competitions; we’ve seen early exits for some of the biggest names in the game, and an excellent run to the quarter-finals by Luke HUmphries, who seems set to be a future star of global darts. We’ve also seen the unseeded and evidently underrated Valeri Labanauskas taking out three seeds before meeting with the reigning champion. And, of course, there’s been Fallon Sherrock, who became the first woman to win a match at this event before then winning another, taking out Mensur Suljovic, and pushing Chris Dobey before bowing out at the third round stage. There’s a lot more to come from Sherrock in 2020, and it will be worth watching.
Aspinall the outsider
In among the names who have lifted darts’ major titles this year – mostly van Gerwen, but with a few triumphs for Price and Cross dotted in there – the standout name would have to be UK Open winner Nathan Aspinall, who beat Cross with a nerveless 170 checkout in the final leg. Aspinall also won the US Masters to add to last season’s impressive run to the semi-finals here. He’s a legitimate threat at the sharp end of professional darts, and will have to be taken seriously by van Gerwen this Monday night.
Whether the Dutch master brings his “A” game will remain to be seen – by his own admission, he’s not been showing due respect to the event nor his opponents recently. MvG whitewashed fourth-round challenger Stephen Bunting without ever leaving first gear, and then dropped two sets against Labanauskas – and still seemed to find time to patronisingly “teach” the Lithuanian how to land a 141 checkout. If the champion has switched on his serious face, then he should win this semi with a bit to spare – otherwise, bear in mind that Aspinall is 14/1 with William Hill to win the whole thing, and that might be worth backing.
Punters may back a new champ, if the Price is Wright
While many bookmakers see the second semi-final as a foregone conclusion, the match played before it has all the makings of a classic, with Gerwyn Price battling to reach his first ever PDC Championship final against Scotland’s Peter Wright, who made it to the showpiece match six years ago only to lose 7-4 to van Gerwen. The Welshman enters the arena as favourite, and has collected a solid list of vanquished foes including Simon Whitlock and Glen Durrant. Wright has appeared subdued for much of the tournament, needing a sudden-death leg to eliminate Noel Malicdem in the second round – but he averaged 105.86 in his quarter-final win over the accomplished Humphries.
BetVictor are convinced that Price is best positioned to progress to the final, offering odds of 13/20 on the Welshman. In fairness, the Iceman has shown a mastery of his temper that had often seemed to elude him earlier in his career, and if he can remain in control here he certainly merits that favourite tag. However, the same bookmaker is offering 13/10 on Wright to win, and the Scot is such a nuggety competitor that he’s genuinely hard to discount. Backing the Scot is not a stupid move.
Sherrock 2020: What can we expect from darts’ newest star?
A win over Ted Evetts was all it took for the darts media to cast its attention on Fallon Sherrock, but the way in which she then defeated Mensur Suljovic allowed the Milton Keynes darter to be seen as more than a novelty. This has attracted a great deal of attention from corners where darts would not usually be considered a sport of interest, and Sherrock seems to be taking the attention in her stride. The benefits of her impressive showing include the fact that there will now inevitably be renewed attention on the BDO Women’s Championship, starting this Saturday, on which Sherrock will appear.
The popular star is rated 15/8 favourite to win the title by Paddy Power, although 7/2 on rival Mikuru Suzuki might be a price worth looking at given the Japanese player’s less hectic schedule in recent weeks. There are also a range of other odds available from Paddy Power related to how 2020 might shape up for Fallon. She’s rated at 10/1 to be a competitor in the Premier League – where she may well be considered for a wild card – as well as odds of 5/2 on her getting a PDC Tour Card through the annual Q-School.