The World Darts Championship is the biggest competition in the PDC calendar and has the prize pool to match. With £2,500,000 up for grabs, £500,000 going to the winner, the biggest major tournament of them all is finally here.
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What is the prize money and what are players defending?
The order of merit is a ranking system used by the PDC to calculate the world rankings and prize money won in the previous two seasons and is tallied up and used to determine where players rank amongst each other.
The most notable defences of prize money are Gerwyn Price who won the competition for the first time in 2021 and is defending £500,000. Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting are looking to hold on to their £100,000 winnings with, Gary Anderson hoping to claw back as much of the £200,000 he made for reaching a fifth career World Championship final.
Michael van Gerwen
The Perennial favourite in every tournament he enters, the Dutchman is the best player in the world on paper. He has been in fine form this past year picking up World Matchplay, World Grand Prix, Premier League and the Players Championship Finals titles – enough to fulfil any other player’s career but this seems like normality for Mighty Mike.
Fresh off lifting the Players Championship Finals title in November, Van Gerwen knows that he is playing some good stuff now and is ready to reclaim the Sid Waddell trophy which seems to have been illuding him these past few years. In terms of stats on the board, he is right up there with the best, dominating many aspects of the game, boasting the highest average over the past 12 months with 98.54. He is even the most recent 9 dart finish hitter, checking out the perfect leg against Rob Cross in the Players Championship Final.
Van Gerwen is the man to beat currently and if he can replicate recent form, it is hard to see anyone being able to cope with his unrelenting pressure.
Gerwyn Price has been there and done that. He is a world champion and is always one of the first names considered when the World Championship rolls around. He would say himself that his form of late isn’t to the standard of what we expect from the Welshman, but Price is the type of player who won’t stay down for long.
He will be one of the most feared names in the draw and will be ready to bring his A-game as he is defending a large amount of prize money after triumphing at Alexandra Palace two years ago beating Gary Anderson in the final.
We can see Gezzy going far into the tournament and staking a strong claim to lift the title for the second time in his career.
The wait is finally over. Michael Smith finally wins a major on his 8th time of asking. He overcame his darting demons and finally got over the line, sweeping aside Nathan Aspinall in the Grand Slam final 16-5. Now he has answered his critics, he is ready to take on the world and establish himself as one of the greats in the sport. You know what you are going to get from Smith – relentless maximum hitting, combination checkouts and an insane pace but it’s whether he can shake those lapses in concentration.
In the recent Players Championship Finals, straight after his maiden major win in Wolverhampton, he went out in the first round to Ritchie Edhouse 6-5 proving that he is still liable to losing to an underdog every so often.
However, we expect Smith to travel far into this tournament because he has been so close in years gone by. He is a two-time World Darts Championship finalist so there will not be many betting against the Englishman to make it far at Ally Pally.
Snakebite can turn up and thrash any player on any given day. He is capable of throwing 110+ averages and blowing opponents out of the water without breaking much of a sweat and we can expect more of this going into the festive period. The Scot is currently the reigning champion and will not want to let go of the trophy without a fight, and we know that if Peter Wright shows up, he can win this tournament and make it 3 world titles in 4 years.
Wright was absent from the recent tournament in the West Midlands so a case can be made that he lacks match practice, but many will know that Wright is a darting powerhouse and will be one of the names most players will want to avoid drawing. His steady and accurate throw partnered with the constant changing of his darts means you never really know what version of Peter you will get but often, it’s all Wright on the night.
Dark horse pick - Ryan Searle
It takes a good player to beat Ryan Searle. Heavy Metal has slowly been establishing himself on the PDC circuit as a solid, heavy scoring player who many players will want to avoid.
This pick is mainly a heart-based pick rather than stats on paper as many expect Ryan Searle to be a major winner in the next few years as he has been knocking on the door recently. He has made major tournament quarterfinals and finals in his short career, so he is no stranger to putting a good run together and having a real crack at a big one.
Our fancy - Michael van Gerwen
We fancy Michael van Gerwen to lift the Sid Waddell trophy for a fourth time as his form is simply too good to ignore. His track record this year is impeccable, and we expect MVG to cause real problems for his opponents as he seeks to make it four major titles in one year.