A cool £350,000 first prize is up for grabs for the winner of darts’ most prestigious prize, the William Hill PDC World Darts Championship, but you sense that the money is of little relevance to the red-hot bookmakers’ favourite, Michael van Gerwen. He simply wants the title of 'world champion' back. The greatest tungsten tosser on the planet has swept all before him this season, as he did last, by winning all eight televised 'majors'.
This includes four in October and November alone, to go nicely with the six he triumphed in last season. But one continues to eludes him... and it just so happens to be the sport’s richest prize. A solitary win at Alexandra Palace back in 2014 has left many students of the sport scratching their head in disbelief.
He may be the finest and most dominant player in the game, but does MVG suffer some kind of psychological meltdown when it comes to the big one? Punters are certainly willing to take on the Dutch darting destroyer when the tournament commences on December 15.
This isn’t just the van Gerwen show of course. 71 other players from around the globe are hoping to have their name engraved on the trophy come January 2. The preliminary round kicks off with 16 international qualifiers ranked outside of the main Order of Merit, who must each win a match just to make it into the first round proper.
Eight preliminaries will survive to make it into the 64-man first round, where they will join the biggest stars, including the top 32 of the Order of Merit, the finest performers on the Pro Tour and those who qualified via the PDPA system. The rest of the tournament unfolds in standard knockout format, until the best-of-13-sets final on Monday January 2 to decide who will be named champion of the world for 2017.
It’s testament to van Gerwen’s dominance of darts that he is listed as an odds-on favourite to win the World Championships – a best price of 8/13 with Coral, in fact. It’s not often that you see the most prestigious event of any sport being as untested as the bookies expect the 'Worlds' to be. But we must remember, here’s a guy that has not tasted victory in this event in two attempts. Can the Green Machine be taken on and brought down?
His major rival would ordinarily be Gary Anderson, the two-time and reigning world champion. The Flying Scotsman has despatched Adrian Lewis and Phil Taylor in the last two renewals of this tournament, and while history would suggest that winning three world titles on the spin is a near impossibility, the truth is that Anderson is one of the very few players that can compete with van Gerwen when both are at their best.
Unfortunately, the Scotsman is not enjoying his finest form at the moment. Early exits from the Grand Slam of Darts and the Players Championship Finals have followed a recent decision to wear glasses on stage, and while that’s not 'sight-ist' it does seem to reflect a player admitting that he feels his game needs an extra 10% in order to compete.
The results, so far, have not been pretty. With it being universally accepted that Phil Taylor’s best days are behind him, perhaps Peter Wright offers the best hope of derailing the Dutch runaway train. The world number three has enjoyed another fine year on the circuit, and as a former world finalist has previous experience at Ally Pally. Crucially, his draw has also been rather kind, so a path to the latter stages has opened up invitingly. Will Wright take it?
While specific betting promotions are thin on the ground, the PDC World Darts Championship is an excellent event in which to take advantage of the myriad of welcome bonuses and free bets that the finest bookmakers offer.
Grosvenor, recognised as one of the premier online casinos on the planet, want to welcome punters to their new sportsbook with an outstanding promotion. Newcomers can trouser a £20 free bet with wagering requirements of just 5x! Now, who to wager that particular freebie on..?
An each way wager on Peter Wright (12/1 with NetBet) is a sound investment. Even if he loses in the final, punters are assured a healthy return, and that can be doubled with Wright to win the Third Quarter at 6/5 with Betway.
But when all's said and done, it’s impossible to see past van Gerwen lifting that famous trophy, and the 8/13 offered by Coral is certainly representative of his chances. For All your William Hill PDC World Darts Championship odds and coverage, head over to Coral Sports today!