Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Festive Favourite: Michael van Gerwen set to dazzle Ally Pally again as World Darts Championship begins

Posted on 12 December 2019 by Alex Bartlett

Pigs in Blankets. Crackers. The Queen’s Speech. That Uncle who has a little bit too much to drink. All feature in the perfect Christmas period.  

But on Friday the sporting festive favourite kicks off at the Alexandra Palace.

 The William Hill World Darts Championship. The victor will have the honour of becoming 2020’s first sporting world champion. 

What better way to prepare than making a fool of yourself with predictions for every match. 

My colleague Thomas Clark predicted Gerwyn Price to thrive and follow his success at last month’s Grand Slam of Darts and defeat defending champion Michael van Gerwen. However, I am backing ‘Snakebite’ Peter Wright to face van Gerwen in the final on 3 January. 

MVG will have to overcome a testing top half of the draw just to find his way to the final.

First Quarter predictions: Alex Bartlett is backing MVG to make to the semi finals. (red indicates player to go through from first round)

And whilst the bottom half of the draw includes his countryman and 5 time world champion Raymond Van Barneveld as he bows out of the sport. As well as Ally Pally fan favourites Devon Peterson and the fastest player in the world Vincent van der Voort, there is plenty to be excited about in the top half. 

Two-time champion Gary Anderson has had a testing year that has seen him fall to number five in the world. Despite plenty of experience on the big stage I am tipping 2019 UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall to best Anderson in the Quarter Finals where they look set to collide. 

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The Asp dramatically checked out a maximum (170) finish in the final leg to defeat Rob Cross in Minehead and claim his first PDC title. 

The Stockport born man made the semi-final here last year and I expect him to fall at the same hurdle this year to the imperious MVG. 

Nathan Aspinall looking to return to the semi final stage for a second straight year.

If he does indeed get past Anderson he faces the prospects of a quarter final against another former double champion, Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis. 

The man famous for winning $72,000 in Las Vegas but being unable to claim the reward as he was under the legal age in the US of 21, claimed his first title defeating Anderson in the 2011 final. 

He matched the feat a year later against Andy Hamilton and he returned to the final in 2016, only to come out second best that time to Anderson. 

His form in the last two years, however, has been far from his title winning self. He has not made it past the quarter final stage at any of the PDC premier events since losing the semi-final at the 2017 World Matchplay at the iconic Winter Gardens. 

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As for the defending champion and World no.1 he will likely open against countryman Jelle Klaasen. Whilst, he has not been as successful in the PDC world championship in 2006 at the BDO equivalent he defeated Barney to become the youngest world champion ever aged 21.

He did have a soiree to the semi-final at the Ally Pally in 2016, beating the greatest of them all Phil Taylor en route. 

If anyone can provide an early shock to the favourite it will be Klaasen but van Gerwen has won a staggering six out of the 10 major events in 2019, including last year’s world title.  

If he is to start 2020 in style he will likely have to overcome Stephen Bunting and Ian White both of whom are in the world’s top 20. 

On his day White is a delight to watch and if they do meet in the Quarter Final as I predict it is sure to be a fiery affair. 

I am backing the imperious van Gerwen to come through the top half and go one better and win the final for his fourth world title. 

But the beauty of top-level sport is that predictions are made to be proven wrong and there are sure to be more than the odd surprise.  

Be sure to tune in for some festive fun, 180s galore and if you’re lucky the crown jewel: a nine-dart finish. 

 

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