Welcome back to OpenOdds’ Darts Round Up, which this week takes a look at the players in the chasing pack behind Michael van Gerwen for the PDC World Darts Championship. The tournament gets underway at London’s Alexandra Palace next Friday, before ending on New Year’s Day with a best-of-13-sets final. 96 players will enter the tournament – with 32 of them given a bye to the second round – although, in many bookmakers’ views, only one has a real chance of winning.
Van Gerwen hasn’t always been great this year, but he’s been on form when it mattered. For much of the summer he was out of sorts, but in the last six weeks he has lifted the PDC Players Championship, the Champions League and the World Series. It’s no surprise that the bookmakers have him as a massive favourite to lift the title on the first day of the new decade – but he could be stopped. Stranger things have happened; but who is in position to deny MvG a fourth career title?
Bargain Price to spring a surprise?
Second in the betting for the World Championships is Wales’ Gerwyn Price, the last player to beat van Gerwen in a competition of any consequence. Price ended a dispiriting run of nineteen career defeats against the champion last month at the Grand Slam of Darts, winning their semi-final meeting on the way to obliterating Peter Wright and winning the title. The twin achievements of winning a premier event and defeating the best seem to be the main reasons behind Price’s odds with the leading bookies.
There’s no doubt that Price has the talent to hang with the best, and he has the considerable advantage of not having to face MvG at any point before the final. He also has the combustible temperament that could lead to the wheels coming off before he even gets that far, so any money placed on him at the 5/1 odds offered by 888 has to be considered a risky punt. We’re not sure that Price should be as clear a second favourite as he is, nor even whether he should be considered the heir apparent to van Gerwen.
Cross to regain form and title?
As second seed for the Championship, Rob Cross may feel a little stung by his relatively distant position in the betting at this point, particularly as he’s won the title as recently as 2018. It’s true that recent form doesn’t argue in his favour. Recent defeats against players he really should be beating have cast doubt over his readiness to go the whole way here, and should he make the quarter-finals he would likely be facing Wright, who saw him off at the Grand Slam with a 10-3 second round win.
It’s fair to say in Cross’s defence that every player has had their wobbles in form this season, even van Gerwen, and that the World Championship is a competition all of its own; the sets format does make shocks much less common. And the truth is that at 12/1 with MarathonBet, the Englishman is a much better bet than he would be had he won a few more matches in November. Whether that makes him a good enough shout for you to back him is another matter, but he might be worth an each-way punt at least.
Wright in the mix for title glory?
A 2017 UK Open title aside, Peter Wright has had limited individual success when it comes to winning premier tournaments. Earlier this year, he united with Gary Anderson to bring World Cup glory for Scotland, and he has regularly been involved in the latter stages of the big events in the second half of 2019. This fine run makes up for his stint in the Premier League throughout spring, during which he spent the entire time in the lower reaches of the table.
Certainly, no main contender will want to face Wright, as he has been the man to eliminate some of the best players from some of the biggest tournaments, even if he has not gone on to then win them himself. He’s been consistent in winning weekly tour events and has to be considered a decent dark horse for glory here. You can back him at 12/1 right now with competition sponsors Betfred; those are fair odds, and they’ll start to come in pretty quickly as the tournament moves on. Wright is likely to be a crowd favourite, so he would be a popular winner.
There are other options beyond these three, of course. One of those, Glen Durrant, is appearing in his first PDC Worlds after winning the BDO version of the event three times on the hoof. He’s 33/1 with most bookies to win a (sort of) fourth consecutive world title. It’s highly unlikely he’ll achieve that, but his odds will drop steeply if he beats Daryl Gurney in the expected third-round clash between the men, so if you fancy an outside punt now’s the time.