The PDC is the only name every professional darts player knows these days and the World Championship has become the holy grail for which every talent must bring their A-game.
This year’s championship will be the 27th by the PDC and the 12th to be hosted at the famous Alexandra Palace in London where it will be sponsored by one of the top online bookmakers in the UK, William Hill. From the 13th of December 2019 to New Year’s Day of 2020, a mix of superstars, professionals, potentials and hopefuls will battle for 20 days, but there will be only one at the end.
OH! Did we mention legends?…
The Michael van Gerwen era will truly begin (as if it had not already) as darts legend, Raymond van Barneveld will be playing in his final competition as a professional.
Barney is one of the most decorated players of all time (not surprisingly behind only Taylor and MVG) and has electrified the sport with his lifelong rival, Phil Taylor. Between the BDO and switching to the PDC, van Barneveld has five World Championships, a total haul of 20 major titles, and was one half of the greatest ever darts match to be played (the other half being ‘The Power’ of course).
Van Barneveld has been very instrumental in making darts big back in his native Netherlands and has given 32 beautiful years to the sport. At the ripe old age of 52, the Dutchman is ranked 40th in the world and is still a player for the big occasions, so, we’ll be backing Barney to bow out in style.
About last year…
The 2019 PDC World Championship was the first ever to have 96 players, with 32 players each from the PDC Order of Merit, The Pro Tour Order of Merit, and qualifiers facing each other in seven rounds.
The championship had a lot of firsts and the noticeable absence of the walk-in song by Snap: The Power, which always introduced Phil Taylor. The greatest ever player of darts retired from the sport in 2018.
Michael van Gerwen would not get his revenge over Rob Cross for the 2018 exit, denied that honour by Cinderella story, Luke Humphries.
Eventual finalist, Michael Smith, will be the end of Humphries in the quarter-finals, before playing a nail-bitter against Nathan Aspinall. He would meet an Unstoppable and avenging MVG in the final though, and the rest is history.
The Mighty Mike Era…
Raymond van Barneveld’s retirement comes just a year after his rival and legend Phil Taylor drew the curtains close on his illustrious career.
Two of the biggest names of the sport, like Magic and Bird, Prost and Senna, McEnroe and Connors, before them, did not exit without leaving a worthy successor.
Michael "Mighty Mike" van Gerwen, has been dominating the world of darts long before the retirement of these two legends, but is now all alone at the top and is looking to stretch his greatness to legendary status.
MVG is by a Land’s End to John o’ Groats distance, the best player in circulation, and the defending champion of the PDC World Championship.
The ‘Green Machine’ will be looking to make it championship title number four, and the first back-to-back championship win of his career.
MVG has never succeeded in defending his titles, alternating between wins and loses. He won in 2014, 2017, and 2019. See the trend?
This year’s draw
Nathan Aspinall is now a major champion after the UK Open and enters the World Championship ranked 12th in the world. Luke Humphries is also in a much better place, standing at 17th in the Pro Tour of Merit.
Jelle Klaasen will be hoping to rub shoulders with fellow countryman and world number one, Michael van Gerwen, when he faces off against Kevin Burness in his first-round match-up, with MVG waiting in the next round.
Michael Smith will be looking forward to getting his hands on Aspinall, but that is if world number 5, Gary Anderson does not get him first. For the second time in the championship, 96 players will compete with two women playing in the first round.
Current women’s World champion, Mikuru Suzuki, and England’s Fallon Sherrock will be there representing ladies.
The Usual Suspects…
It is MVG’s world, and the rest are just living in it. Mighty Mike is a hefty 5/4 favourite with most online bookies, followed by the 5/1 Gerwyn Price. Price is the closest thing to a spoilsport for Van Gerwen, and ‘The Iceman’ is coming into the tournament in good shape.
Rob Cross (16/1) will have a point to prove after last year’s shock exit, and meeting MVG in the final is a high probability.
Peter Wright is another name making the rounds, though why anyone would want to leave out Gary Anderson (maybe because he is the oldest in the top 5) is beyond us.
I did not see that coming, but…
This year’s outsider is Nathan Aspinall. The English man started the 2019 season with a bang, winning his first major title at the UK Open and then going on to win US Dart Master.
Aspinall has beaten three out of the top five this year and seems to have Rob Cross’ number since last year’s championship. He will have Gary Anderson and Smith in his way early on at the championships, but if he can get past them and find himself in the crunch rounds, then who is to say he won’t get a notable nickname and some much-deserved glory.
Luke Humphries is somewhere around this category, sort of an outsider to an outsider, and while the path may be narrow, he has proven he can thread it. Not much noise is made about Gary Anderson and Dave Chisnall, but watch out world, we all know they’ve got it in the locker.
Of course, it was always going to MVG first and then the rest lie where they may. The man to beat (and if his interview is anything to go by, to impress) is van Gerwen.
At 5/4, you’d have to fancy the Green Machine despite the monkey currently nestled comfortably on his back (in reference to our ‘Darty Fact’). If this proves to be Mighty Mike’s banana skin, There’s plenty of talent left in the field who are more than capable of upsetting the odds.