Viagogo Year in review; The PDC World Darts Champs are their THIRD biggest draw!
Well I’m starting this article Sunday night, just four days away from the start of the 2015 William Hill World Championships. For many (PDC) darts fans, 7pm Thursday night will be when Xmas really starts, as that music starts up and Sky Sports bring us all the glitz from the Ally Pally.
The full TV schedule can be found here – I’ll just share a few thoughts about some of the players to watch out for, and the first round games I’m most looking forward too.
Before I do that – I’ll be asked “who do I think will win it?”. Well it’s not easy at the moment to give one name, as a lot of players are competing at the top level at the moment, so the list of names I think the winner will come from are;
- Phil Taylor – I think he’s desperate to win at least once more, and prove he can do it with the Target darts.
- Michael van Gerwen – he’ll be looking to start a period of domination, if he’s ever to match Phil Taylor’s acheivements.
- Adrian Lewis – his form appears to be returning, and he’s done this before; have a quiet year then win the worlds. Ade is also back with Keith Deller who helped get him ready to win his two previous world championships.
- Gary Anderson – possibly the best player not to have won a worlds? A massive talent, who is now appearing to deliver on all the promises. The form horse going into the worlds.
- James Wade – he’s got his head in a good place, and he’s enjoying darts again, and the form and results are showing that. He’s won many majors, so is a proven winner. I’m sure he’ll be focussing on taking that trophy home.
If you don’t follow the darts as closely as me, you may want to know some names that might be worth a punt on for winning their first rounds games, maybe for a sneaky accy bet where you could win a pot of gold from the bookies.
The first game of the tournament could see a former world champ, John Part, go out to a young talent. Keegan Brown certainly has the game and stage confidence to beat John if he’s not throwing well, so we could see a shock there.
Benito van der Pas could also spoil Paul Nicholson’s Xmas in their first round clash. Benito is another young confident player who has been playing well this year.
Jason Hogg came through a tough qualifier to be at the worlds, and he again is a player who has been doing pretty well on the pro tour. He’ll have to play his best to beat Jabba, but it’s possible.
Dave Pallett is a player not lacking in confidence, and he’s already been joking with Adrian Lewis about him being better looking. He’s a good player, and while I think Lewis could win the title, first rounds are always tricky in the short format.
So it all kicks of Thursday – the first set of games are;
Thursday December 18
7.10pm John Part (30) v Keegan Brown
8.15pm Christian Perez v Cristo Reyes (P)
9.00pm Jelle Klaasen (29) v Christian Kist
10.00pm Michael van Gerwen (1) v Joe Cullen
11.00pm Wes Newton (13) v Christian Perez/Cristo Reyes
Enjoy – and have a great Xmas!
VAN GERWEN READY TO RULE THE WORLD AGAIN
Defending champion Michael van Gerwen has issued a warning to his darting rivals as he prepares to return to the scene of the crowning moment of his career so far, declaring: “I won’t give my title up without a fight.”
The 25-year-old Dutch darting superstar will be one of the major attractions in the PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace in London over the festive period.
Van Gerwen has revelled in his year as world champion after lifting the title for the first time with a final victory over Peter Wright 12 months ago, and has vowed to give his all in a bid to keep hold of the trophy.
“Winning the World Championship was amazing and it’s been a fantastic year,” said van Gerwen, who is sponsored by leading trade paint manufacturer Leyland Paints.
“I worked for a lot of years to be the world champion and it felt as good as I thought it would.
“I’m desperate to have those same feelings by winning it again and I certainly won’t be giving up my title without a fight.
“There will be a bit of extra pressure on me as defending champion but I enjoy that. I’ve won it before so I know I can cope with the pressure and I can’t wait for the next couple of weeks.”
Van Gerwen will ensure the tournament gets off to a flying start with an appearance on the opening night on Thursday December 18 against first round opponent Joe Cullen.
“Joe’s a great player and I will have to be at my best right from the very start,” added van Gerwen.
“There are a lot of players performing well leading into the World Championship so you know if you don’t play well, you will be going home.
“But I’m very pleased with my form so hopefully I can rise to the occasion and win the tournament again.”
Van Gerwen will be joined at the World Championship by fellow Leyland Paint ambassadors Simon Whitlock, who is ranked seven for the tournament, and former world champion Mark Webster, who are also both members of ‘Team Leyland.’
WHITLOCK LOOKING TO DRAW ON PAST EXPERIENCE AT ALLY PALLY
Simon Whitlock is hopeful that his past success on darts’ biggest stage will prove significant when the PDC World Championship gets underway.
The 45-year-old Wizard of Oz has struggled to hit top form recently but believes that he can put himself in contention for glory at London’s Alexandra Palace.
Whitlock, who is sponsored by leading trade paint manufacturer Leyland Paints, said: “I haven’t quite been firing on all cylinders recently, which has been a bit disappointing.
“But the World Championship is what every player looks forward to – and I feel like I’m ready.
“It’s a competition which I’ve had some success in previously and I love playing at Ally Pally, so hopefully that will stand me in good stead.”
Whitlock reached the final of the competition in 2010 before falling to Phil Taylor, while he was also a semi-finalist in 2012, despite playing with a broken ankle, and made the quarter-finals last year.
Seventh seed Whitlock is one of three Australians in action on Saturday December 20 as he takes on Norwich-based Darren Webster.
The winner of that clash will face either Dean Winstanley or Wayne Jones on Sunday December 28.
Despite not being in peak form throughout 2014, Whitlock has still reached the semi-finals of the World Matchplay and final of the Singapore Masters this year.
“When things aren’t going quite right, all you can do is keep practicing and keep your self-belief,” said Whitlock, who now lives in Waterlooville.
“I’ve been working hard and I’m really looking forward to the most exciting fortnight of the darting calendar.”
WEBSTER HOPING TO BE TAYLOR-MADE FOR WORLDS
Former world champion Mark Webster insists he would relish the challenge of a festive showdown against darts legend Phil Taylor – but the Welsh thrower is refusing to contemplate the prospect too much.
Denbigh-based Webster is on a PDC World Championship collision course with 16-times winner Taylor at Alexandra Palace if both players win their opening match.
But the 2008 BDO world champion insists he is not looking beyond his first round meeting with Dutchman Ron Meulenkamp, which takes place in the afternoon session on Sunday, December 21.
“It would be great to play Phil in a high profile match at the World Championships and I’m sure Ron will be thinking the same,” said Webster, who is sponsored by leading trade paint manufacturer Leyland Paints.
“But I’m not looking beyond that first game with Ron. We played each other a number of years ago in the BDO system but that was only a best of five leg match and this is a totally different situation.
“It will be a tough game but they all are. The days that you might have gone to the World Championship and had a relatively straight-forward first round match are long gone.
“The aim is to try and get through that game against Ron and have a great game against Phil to look forward to over Christmas.”
After reaching the quarter-finals in this event 12 months ago, Webster is excited about his return to the sport’s biggest stage.
He added: “I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve not been on television for a while so that will be something to get used to again.
“A few months ago I was struggling for a bit of form but I’ve been throwing pretty well recently, without getting too many results.
“The challenge now is to try and turn those positive performances into wins.
“A lot of people don’t get on the tour until they are in their late 30s and early 40s and I’m only 31.
“I feel as though I have got a lot of good times ahead of me and hopefully they can start here.”
Leyland Paints was founded in 1922 and has a long and distinguished history of affordable, trade quality paints.
Thanks to Viagogo for the infographic showing just how popular the darts tickets are! Viagogo are an official ticket partner of the PDC.
Michael van Gerwen, World Champion (Pic Steve Welsh, William Hill)