It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Ally Pally will play host to a packed crowd once again, as the PDC WOROLinvade North London.
There’s plenty of plot lines and talking points going into the big one: Can Gerwyn Price emulate Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson by going back-to-back? Can Michael van Gerwen finally win the big one again? Can Fallon Sherrock continue to break all sporting boundaries? All will be revealed over the course of two and a half weeks.
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Peter Wright to win the championship @ 6/1
James Wade E/W to win the championship @ 40/1
Fallon Sherrock & Lisa Ashton to win in Round 1 @ 5/1
With a huge field of 96 competitors, let’s break down some of the runners and riders and identify which tungsten titans you should be chucking a few quid at…
Topping the field is world number one GERWYN PRICE, as expected. He’s the favourite for a reason, with a Grand Slam of Darts win under his belt this year, along with three other TV semi-final appearances.
He has all the hallmarks of a champion, with his ability to hit huge doubles under pressure and sheer physical presence on stage unsettling opponents.
But he has shown chinks in his armour, after Jonny Clayton destroyed the Welshman 5-1 in the World Grand Prix final.
His section of the draw hasn’t been kind either, with the aforementioned Clayton, Michael Smith, Kim Huybrechts, Dirk van Duijvenbode and last year’s Semi-Finalist Stephen Bunting all waiting in the wings. At the price, I think there is better value elsewhere.
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN is next up but at present, back him at your peril. The once invincible Dutchman is without a TV title in 2021, the first time he’s gone winless in majors since 2011.
Of course, on his day he is more than capable of blowing the field away and his record in the tournament is surprisingly robust (Quarters or better in eight of the last nine Worlds) but as with Price, the draw is treacherous.
Old foes Gary Anderson, Rob Cross and Daryl Gurney await in the Green Machine’s section, not to mention Dave Chisnall, the man who dumped him out 5-0 in last year’s Quarter Final. With the pressure on Van Gerwen to end a year-long title drought, he is vulnerable to an upset.
By far the most robust play for me is PETER WRIGHT.
Since winning this tournament two years ago, he has picked up five more televised titles and is playing the best darts of his long career.
The last man to win at Ally Pally with a crowd, the 51-year old has seen and done the lot. He will have the crowd on his side (something that can’t be said for some of the other favourites) and with only one other major winner in his section of the draw (Nathan Aspinall), has been dealt a solid hand to make a deep run.
THE OLD GUARD
Arguably the greatest player never to have won a World title is JAMES WADE and he's currently at a price too good to ignore.
The seasoned pro has been around ages, but he’s still only 38, and has kept his consistency across the year to come into this ranked at four, giving him the ability to head his own section of the draw.
His first victory in a ‘big four’ major for a decade came with a UK Open crown in March. He followed that up with a Semi-Final appearance in the Grand Slam.
He’s only failed to win his opening game at a Worlds tournament once in the last 15 years. Considering the likes of Dimitri van den Bergh (no Semi-Final here in six attempts) and Ryan Searle (yet to win a major) are shorter than him in the betting, he’s a cracking each-way shot.
The headlines will be dominated by FALLON SHERROCK’S return to where she made herself a worldwide name, but do not overlook LISA ASHTON.
Ashton be making her third appearance at the Worlds, hoping to win a game for the first time.
She lost 3-1 her first time around and 3-2 last year, so she is getting closer. Her first game is against Ron Meulenkamp, who hasn’t averaged over 100 on TV this year and has averaged in the 80s more times than the 90s.
There’s more than a chance here for Ashton, and she could well make it a female double with Sherrock pitting herself against Steve Beaton.
Beaton is a legend making his incredible 31st consecutive appearance at a World Championship. But the former BDO king is a shadow of the player he once was, as Sherrock is the favourite to win.
If she wins her first two matches like she did in 2019, she would then face Gerwyn Price. You know who the crowd would be supporting in that one, and in this crazy year, who’s to say we couldn’t see the shock of a lifetime?!
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