PDC World Darts Championship: The Power Set to End on a High?
The annual PDC World Darts Championship returns to Alexandra Palace in what has become one of the highlights of the whole festive season. During what can be a quiet period for sport, the action on the oche gives us fans something to really enjoy as the action continues through Christmas with the champion being crowned in the New Year.
We can expect another great few days of entertainment and amongst the usual favourites, the greatest player the game has ever seen is eyeing up a Golden Goodbye.
At 57 years of age, Phil Taylor was around when this tournament was first held back in 1994. In fact, he started out as a professional back in 1987 and was a winner of the World Championship in 1990, before the notorious split in darts.
As the game gained two governing bodies, the BDO Championship continued as a separate competition but for the purposes of this round up, we will be focusing on the PDC where Taylor is a 14 time winner. That’s an incredible record but as he heads into retirement, few would have given the man from Stoke any chance of adding to that tally at the start of the year but, after a thrilling victory in the World Matchplay, The Power is looking to be a value pick for World Title number 15.
Reigning Champion Michael Van Gerwen is considered to the best player in the world right now and that theory is backed up in the markets where the Dutchman is odds on favourite. Paddy Power and William Hill are offering 5/6 on Mighty Mike to successfully defend his crown but it’s not been such a prolific year by his own high standards.
Van Gerwen was virtually unbeatable in 2016 and although he has added the Masters and the Premier League to his overflowing trophy cabinet this year, performances have shown his vulnerability. Against Taylor in the World Matchplay, a row over a text sent to his compatriot Vincent Van Der Voort saw the crowd turn on the popular Dutchman and, under pressure, he capitulated to a strong opponent.
Behind Van Gerwen in the betting is Gary Anderson who is a two-time winner of this event. The Scot is priced at a best of 13/2 with BetBright and William Hill but his best performance this year yielded a mere runners’ up spot in The Masters.
Behind the top two we have Peter Wright who lost out to Taylor in that World Matchplay final earlier this year. Snakebite Wright is on offer at best odds of 8/1 with SkyBet and BetFred and he was a winner of the UK Open this season.
Now we come to Phil Taylor who was available at 18/1 for the PDC World title prior to that World Matchplay victory. In his final year on the circuit, The Power seems relaxed and that could leave him as a dangerous option for Alexandra Palace even though his best odds for the trophy have dropped to 10/1 with Stan James and MarathonBet.
Those four men seem to be the only likely contenders but elsewhere, there may be some interest in Adrian Lewis at a top price of 28/1 with Boylesports and the experienced Raymond Van Barneveld at 40/1 with BetFred and 32Red.
History and Format
The PDC version of the World Darts Championship was first held in 1994 with Dennis Priestley beating Phil Taylor in the final by an emphatic six games to one. Taylor took his revenge a year later and from 1995 to 2002, he claimed an incredible eight straight victories.
Canadian John Part broke that streak in 2003 but it was business as usual with Phil Taylor claiming the title once again in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The Power’s dominance seemed to be over following his final success in 2013 since when, Van Gerwen and Anderson have shared four titles between them but clearly it would be foolish to write the Englishman off.
The 2017/18 PDC World Darts Championship begins on December 14 later this year with the final set to take place on New Year’s Day. 72 players will head to Alexandra Palace with 16 players taking part in the Preliminary Round and 56 straight through to the first round proper. All games are played on a straight knockout basis so there are no second chances here as there may be in other darts formats.
At the time of writing, in September 2017, the outright winner market is a busy one with all the major bookmakers declaring prices for this event. There is no side betting available at present but that will certainly change as the PDC World Darts Championship Draws closer.
Punters will be able to bet on the finalists while an additional ‘To Reach the Final’ market will also be popular. A smaller set of bookies may also quote for some niche bets such as whether any player will complete a perfect, nine dart finish during the tournament.
Of course, there will be a full set of betting for the individual matches themselves, right through from the Preliminary rounds all the way up to the final itself. Match winner, game score and more will be available as the lots are drawn and those games are announced.
In the days leading up to December 14, we also expect to see a number of enhanced odds deals and price boosts for this year’s PDC World Darts tournament. Some of these will be for new customers to a particular bookmaker and they are more likely to focus on the outright tournament betting, increasing the odds for an individual player to win it.
Smaller price boosts for existing account holders will be appearing for many of the games in the World Championships themselves. Naturally, much of that focus will be on the favourite Van Gerwen with Gary Anderson and Peter Wright also coming under the spotlight.
However, following that brilliant win in the World Matchplay tournament, there is renewed interest in Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor. He is simply the most successful darts player that the game has ever known and if he can carry that Matchplay form into the PDC World Championships, it will be tough for Van Gerwen, Anderson, Wright or anyone else to stop him.