PDC World Darts: MVG Peaks Again but Can He Defend Title?

The highlight of this, and any other darting year is on the horizon with the PDC World Championships starting in mid-December. The best that the game has to offer will descend on Alexandra Palace in North London to battle it out across the festive period with the winner being crowned at the start of 2018.

This year’s tournament begins on 14th December 2017 and after a break for Christmas itself, we will have a world champion on New Year’s Day. Michael Van Gerwen will be in town to defend his crown and while it’s been an up-and-down 12 months for the Dutchman, he’s back in form and leading the outright betting as the tournament draws near.

Man to Beat

Currently, Van Gerwen is an odds on option with most bookmakers while SportingBet come in with a best price of Even Money. In 2016, MVG dominated the PDC darts scene in a year that culminated in him winning his second world title at the start of this year.

2017 hasn’t been quite so positive however and an infamous falling out with Phil Taylor following an ill-advised text saw Van Gerwen lose his cool in the World Matchplay as the crowd turned against him.

A dip in form followed but that’s certainly been addressed with further victories at the tail end of 2017 and once again, Mighty Mike looks to be in peak touch ahead of the PDC Worlds.

Chasing Throwers

Michael Van Gerwen

Behind Van Gerwen is the double world champion Gary Anderson who can be picked up at a best price of 6/1 with a number of bookmakers including Paddy Power and Sun Bets. Anderson famously won this event for two years in succession from 2015 and he made it to the final again last year, ultimately going down by 7-3 to Van Gerwen.

Peter Wright is next on the list at 9/1 with Paddy Power and BetFred while the most successful player in the history of the game, Phil Taylor, is just marginally further back at a top price of 10/1 with BetFred again.

As there is a significant gap to the fifth favourite, the odds setters seem to think that the 2018 World Title will be fought out between four men but can anyone break Van Gerwen and upset the odds?

It’s been a reasonable year for the Flying Scotsman Anderson, but his successes have mainly come in fringe tournaments such as the Dubai Masters and the Perth Masters. He hasn’t quite got over the line in the big events but some runners up places suggest he can be a threat at Ally Pally again in 2018.

Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright has won a host of events around Europe this year and has been particularly successful in Germany, winning the German Darts Championship, the German Masters and the German Open.

He’s clearly got the talent to match his big personality but hasn’t quite delivered in the World Championship and hasn’t really threatened since finishing as runner up to Van Gerwen in 2014.

That leaves Phil The Power Taylor who is playing his last year of professional darts before bringing down the curtain on an incredible career. Taylor has won no fewer than 16 World Titles – an amazing statistic and although he is some way from his absolute best, victory in the World Matchplay in 2017 suggests he can still beat anyone and plenty of money will be staked on the man from Stoke to finish in style.

Outside Options

Rob Cross

The name of Rob Cross may be unfamiliar to even the casual darts fan but he is the first man to come in behind the top four at odds of 16/1 with Bet365 and Winner Sports. Cross is a former BDO player who switched codes without ever really leaving a mark on the game but 2017 has certainly been a breakthrough year.

The 27 year old reached the European Championship final in October 2017 and it’s interesting to note that a strong performance in November’s Grand Slam saw his best price for the PDC Worlds drop from 25/1 to that general 16/1 figure.

Behind Cross there is another gap to Daryl Gurney at a best of 33/1 with Ladbrokes and BetFred, Mensur Suljovic at a top price of 40/1 with Paddy Power and Adrian Lewis at 50/1 with William Hill and SportingBet.

Of those names, Lewis is a former World Champion and could potentially offer some value as an Each Way shot although form is dipping in 2017.

Betting Options

With less than a month to go until the first dart is thrown at this year’s PDC Worlds, we only have outright winner markets available but that will definitely change in the weeks that lie ahead. Match betting will open once the draw is made and punters will be able to stake on the result, correct match score, most 180s and so on.

Other long term options will also appear such as the Nine Dart Finish and the To Reach the Final Markets and once it all starts, darts is always a great sport for those that like to bet in play.

Verdict

This could be quite a simple conclusion and if Michael Van Gerwen is at the top of his game then no player can live with him. However, considering how dominant the darting Dutchman has been, it’s perhaps a little surprising that he has only won the PDC World Championship twice in the last four years.

In the intervening tournaments, Gary Anderson simply played better and the Scot remains a threat but the way that Van Gerwen is closing out 2017 makes him an obvious tip for this tournament. There may well be some enhanced odds, new customer offers for MVG as the tournament draws closer but that best price of Even Money with SportingBet in the open markets is a reasonable one.

At the same time, Rob Cross has enjoyed an impressive start to life as a PDC thrower and we’ll be on that 16/1 price with Bet365 before it shortens further.

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