Van Gerwen primed for Ally Pally hat-trick

The best players in the PDC are set to descend on Alexandra Palace over the festive season for the World Darts Championship.

It looks set to be another thrilling tournament with a number of possible winners, but there is one name that stands out above all others.

Dutch Master to prove his class

Michael van Gerwen has been the dominant force in darts for the past five years and it is perhaps surprising that he has only two world titles to his name.

Those came in 2014 and 2017 and it has been the one event in which he has not been able to stamp his authority on since rising to the top of the sport.

A semi-final defeat last year shocked the darting world and proved that he is human after all, but the 29-year-old is priced as the 2.50 favourite to land the spoils on New Year’s Day. 

‘Mighty Mike’ has not been as consistent in 2018 as in previous years, but still has the Masters, Premier League and World Grand Prix to show for his efforts along with numerous other PDC Tour events.

With a bye in round one, MVG will play either Alan Tabern or Raymond Smith in the second round and neither should prove too tricky for the world number one.

Scotsman flying for number three

Gary Anderson also has a couple of world crowns on his CV and if there is one man who can challenge Van Gerwen, it is surely the 47-year-old world number four.

He has at times been irresistible in 2018, winning the World Matchplay, UK Open and Champions League, with a final appearance at the Grand Slam and three other runs to the last four of the big televised events.

Having overcome back problems that threatened to derail his Premier League challenge earlier in the year, the 2015 and 2016 world champion has been a model of consistency and is the 4.30 second favourite to do the business in north London.

The Somerset resident has reached at least the quarter-finals in every TV tournament this term and, scheduled to meet Daryl Gurney in the last eight, Anderson is priced at 5.50 to exit at that stage.

Superchin to prove a dark horse

Whether or not Gurney likes his nickname is open to debate, but what is certain is that the Northern Irishman is now a serious contender on the world stage and cannot be discounted as a possible winner at a tasty price of 31.00.

Having announced himself to the world with Grand Prix glory in 2017, he doubled his major tally this year by downing Van Gerwen in the final of the Players Championship Finals in late November.

Never short of confidence, the man from Derry managed to solve his problems on the outer ring and proved that he can handle the pressure at the top of the sport.

Always a heavy scorer, Gurney will go far if he can hit his doubles, and that potential match-up with Anderson in late December looks a mouth-watering prospect.

No Power and Voltage low on spark

Rob Cross pulled off one of the greatest shocks in the history of the sport to claim last year’s title and in doing so, ended Phil Taylor’s career after beating him in the final.

The 28-year-old had been a professional for less than a year before landing the game’s biggest prize.

While it was an incredible achievement, it meant that the former electrician then had a target on his back and he has struggled to cope with the weight of expectation at times throughout the rest of the year.

The man from Kent managed to rally after a poor start to reach the Premier League semi-finals on his debut while also making three quarter-finals at the big tournaments, but only time will tell if he is in the sort of form to mount a serious defence at the Worlds.

Apart from a last-eight appearance in the European Championship, Cross has not made it past the second round of any TV tournament since May and that is a worrying statistic for those who have backed him at 21.00.

He will face either Jeffrey de Zwaan of the Netherlands or India’s Nitin Kumar in his opening match and is 3.75 to be eliminated at the first time of asking in round two.