The event that darts fans around the world have been waiting for has come round again as the festive favourite that is the World Darts Championship gets underway on Tuesday afternoon at the Alexandra Palace in North London.
96 players in total will be heading to the Ally Pally, with a record 29 nations represented, all hoping to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy live on the Sky Sports Darts channel.
While there are strong shouts that can be made for at least two PDC title winning players from Portugal and Belgium– Jose De Sousa and Dimitri van den Bergh we’re looking at you – there really isn’t much of a case that can be made for any one outside of England, Scotland, Wales and Holland taking down the title on January 3rd.
Scotland’s Peter Wright is the reigning champion and he, as will everyone, will be pleased to be finally playing in front of a live audience again, albeit with reduced numbers. 1,000 fans per session will be allowed to attend for which I am truly grateful.
Snakebite, like Gerwyn Price and Michael van Gerwen, has won more than one PDC title this year and these three in particular are the runaway best three players in the game right now.
First though, we should discuss the merits of Dimitri van den Bergh. The Dream Maker from Antwerp has posted a very strong year and, along with very good performances in the World Cup and the Players Championships, won the second biggest event in darts, the World Matchplay where he overcame two time world champion Gary ‘The Flying Scotsman’ Anderson in the final.
It’s also worth noting that he has made the semis at the Ally Pally on two occasions prior to this year’s event too so his claims can’t be discounted.
Elsewhere, James Wade is chucking his best darts in years.
The Machine, who lost to Jose De Sousa in the recent final of the Grand Slam, is a three time Ally Pally semi-finalist, albeit most recently as far back as 2013, but he has certainly timed his return to form well.
Another Englishman who could run deep is Nathan Aspinall.
The Asp only turned pro two years ago but has already won the 2020 UK Open as well as making the Premier League of Darts final, also this year.
Currently ranked number six in the world, the man from Stockport has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top and also has two World Championship semi-finals under his belt.
Going at least one match further doesn’t require a great leap of faith.
Another guy who has been knocking on the door for some time now is Michael ‘Bully Boy’ Smith.
Fans love the rapid nature of Smith’s game and it has served him well, even if he never quite nails down a championship.
He will do one day though and a relatively unbothersome draw means that that day could come as soon as January 3.
And so, to the trio who are, by some way, the best three chuckers in the world right now.
From Wales, Gerwyn Price has been 2020’s strongest darter, by some way I would suggest.
Sadly, that means nothing when we’re talking about betting on a mega tourney such as this.
I’m sure in his own head, anything other than a win will be classed as a disappointment. And he would be right.
Becoming the first ever Welsh PDC world champion is definitely well within his considerable capabilities.
I’m also sure that, like helping Wales win this year’s World Cup, such an achievement will be at the forefront of his mind and, if he can make it to the semis, as he did last year when he lost to the eventual champion Peter Wright, anything is possible.
As for Peter Wright, the defending champion was on a roll at the start of the year before the pandemic shut everything down in the spring time.
Lockdown, definitely stunted Snakebite and took the sting out of his game.
He remains the world number two however and a win here would elevate him to number one come the new year, something he has always aspired to.
The Scotsman has un unenviable draw, however, one that, on form, he could easily stroll though.
Snakey always retains the ability to shoot down his own chances however and progress depends largely on which Snakebite shows up.
Hopefully one that has settled upon a set of darts.
And so to the world number one.
Michael van Gerwen has had, by his own phenomenal standards, something of a poor season.
By that we mean, that he only won two PDC televised events this year. So far anyway.
What will worry his rivals is that the latest of these came only a month ago when he took down the Players Championships Finals in Coventry.
This return to form is ominous for those who were hoping for a nullified MVG to show up in the capital.
Instead, his return to winner’s corner makes the Dutchman the most likely to be left smiling come the new year.