Jackpot Joy Bound For Ally Pally
World Darts Championship
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of bully. Can The Power claim his 17th World Championship title or is it somebody else’s for the taking?
This Thursday sees the start of the 22nd PDC World Championship, and arguably the hardest one to call yet. Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis, Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade have all won major titles this year and no fewer than six players go to Ally Pally this winter at odds of 20/1 or shorter.
Of course, two men dominate the market. And on this occasion it is 16-time World Champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor that is given the nod to be market leader at odds of 2/1 from BoyleSports, with Michael van Gerwen priced at a slightly bigger 5/2. Should either or both of these two men turn up and play their best darts for two weeks, then they’ll be very difficult to beat and it would be no surprise to see them contest the final on January 4th. However, at such short odds in a hugely competitive tournament I have to look elsewhere.
Gary Anderson arrives in north London as the Tour’s form player after he won the final Players’ Championship event of the season then went on to lift the Players’ Championship Finals title – beating Taylor, Lewis and Bunting en route – at the end of November. As a result his odds have been slashed, and at the 13/2 now being offered he’s way too short to tempt me to get involved.
On The Oche
Instead I’m looking towards both Adrian Lewis (11/1) and James Wade (14/1). Lewis is undoubtedly one of the most talented players that the game has ever seen, but he does blow hot and cold. When he is good he can beat anyone on the planet, and make it look extremely easy, but when he is bad he could lose to anyone.
Jackpot’s form usually coincides with the amount of time he is putting in on the practice board and his recent run to the final of the Players’ Championship Finals and a nine-darter the previous weekend in Coventry, show that he is back on his game at the right time of the year.
He always comes to life in this tournament and hasn’t failed to reach the quarter-finals since 2009, lifting the trophy twice in that period. At double-figure odds he represents outstanding value.
Likewise James Wade. The Machine has had his much-publicised problems over the past few years, but is now clearly in a much better place – both mentally and at the oche. He got back to winning major titles with success at the Masters event in Edinburgh at the beginning of November and is another who is not afraid of producing his best on the Ally Pally stage. Odds of 14/1 on an in-form proven winner, who has reached two World Championship semi-finals in the past three years, look too good to ignore.
My final word goes to a couple of big-priced outsiders who I expect will meet in the second round here. Mervyn King (40/1) and Vincent van der Voort (200/1) have both impressed in recent months and although I’m not sure that either has the pedigree to go all the way in such a big tournament, particularly the Dutchman, they are two players who have been playing well and can beat anyone on their day.
I expect one of them to be a quarter-finalist where they are likely to meet Phil Taylor, but if The Power falls foul of an early-round upset then the door would swing wide open for either of these two.