It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
A time for curling up on the sofa with loved ones and settling in for a night (or many nights) of Christmas television. The wait is almost over…
The World Darts Championship is here! The highlight of the sporting Christmas calendar.
The Sports Gazette team are giddy with excitement as the 2020 tournament starts on Friday, and what better way to prepare than making a fool of yourself with predictions for every match.
Alex Bartlett has previewed the top half of the draw, and gone for a predictable Michael van Gerwen triumph.
Whilst I agree MVG will get to the final, he is not my champion.
My pick to come through from the bottom half of the draw and to defeat van Gerwen in the final is Gerwyn Price.
Having finally defeated MVG at the 20th time of asking last month I feel the Iceman’s time is here.
Not many bet against Mighty Mike, but with the monkey off his back and the crowd starting to warm up to Price, I’m going for Price to finally get it right.
The other stand out names in the bottom half of the draw, are world number two Rob Cross and crowd favourite Peter Wright.
Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney is another to look out for after a strong start to 2019, but he is not expected to progress further than the quarter-finals.
Nothing too out there in those predictions, other than Peter Wright to overcome Rob Cross in the quarter final to set up a mouth-watering tie with former Welsh premier division rugby player, Gerwyn Price.
The bottom half of the draw throws up two particularly fascinating first round matches. Ted Evetts takes on Fallon Sherrock and James Richardson (not that one) faces off against the Japanese star.
Suzuki is the reigning women’s world champion and was described by Chris Mason on Eurosport as: “The Phil Taylor of the ladies’ game,” huge praise, but can she live up to the hype? We will see on Sunday evening.
I have tipped Richardson for the win, but only narrowly against the Japanese star.
Sherrock was the final player to qualify for the tournament after a fine 2019. In her world championship debut she takes on Evetts who has a record of won one and lost two at Ally Pally.
I have gone with Evetts, but would not be surprised if Sherrock makes history and becomes the first female player to win a match at the world championships. Keep your eyes peeled for that match on Tuesday 17 December.
The favourites from the bottom half of the draw, Cross, Price and Wright, all look to have relatively easy routes to the quarter finals.
If all goes to form (and we know this usually doesn’t happen) Price will have to face John Henderson and Mervyn King in the early rounds.
Neither are easy matches, but the Iceman is flying and goes into the championship as second favourite after defending his Grand Slam of Darts title last month.
Cross was recently thrashed by Wright in the Grand Slam of Darts, and will be gunning for revenge here and the two look destined to meet in the quarter finals.
The 2018 champion Cross will hope Wright cannot repeat his phenomenal performance, but I am predicting another Snakebite victory over Voltage to set up a semi-final against Price.
Unseeded players Devon Petersen and Raymond van Barneveld are the dark horses of this side of the draw.
Four time BDO and the 2007 PDC World Champion Barney will be playing his final professional tournament after an incredible 35-year career. The Barney Army will certainly be behind van Barneveld. He has a difficult opening round against American Darin Young, but I think we will see him roll back the years and get at least two wins before he finally bows out.
Petersen is another favourite with the Ally Pally faithful, his walk on dance is worth the entrance fee alone. I am backing Africa’s only professional darts player to beat two seeded players on his route through the draw before succumbing to Cross in the fourth round.
Petersen will once again have his home continent behind him, but as the man told the Sports Gazette two years ago it is “daunting” being the only African representative. However, it is also something he is immensely proud of.
The tournament gets underway this Friday and I for one cannot wait.
Featured photograph/Max Pixel