The festive season is almost here and one of the sporting highlights over the Christmas period is the 2017 Professional Darts Corporation World Championships, which will once again take place at the Alexandra Palace in London. The starting cast of 72 players from all over the globe will battle it out for the top prize of £350,000 and the opportunity to lift aloft the Sid Waddell Trophy in memory of the late, famed darts commentator.
Gary Anderson has won this most prestigious event for the last two years, but there will be stiff opposition for ‘The Flying Scotsman’ from the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Peter Wright amongst others in what promises to be a fantastic watch for all who take in the action. In this article, we will look at some of the main contenders in greater detail.
Since his maiden PDC World Championship win back in 2014, Michael van Gerwen has been the top tip and bookmakers’ favourite to walk away with the title every year since, and this occasion is no exception. The Dutchman has been an utterly dominant force in 2016 by claiming eight major tournaments and numerous other events and it can be argued that the 8/11 currently available on ‘Mighty Mike’ to win at the Palace is indeed a form of value. Van Gerwen can reach levels of darting performance that most other players can only dream about, and if the 27 year-old maintains his recent form over the festive period, then it will take an almighty – if not impossible - effort to stop the Green Machine by the early new year.
Despite the dominance of MVG, the form horse at ‘Ally Pally’ over the last two years is Gary Anderson, who is a general 6/1 chance to make it a hat-trick of titles. Anderson has had a lean time since his World Championship win of 2016 by his usual high standards, but the current world number two ranked player always raises his game for the big shows. Anderson has flirted with the using of glasses in recent events which is a small concern to punters who wish to back the 45 year-old, but the Scot is one of only a few players who has the potential to trouble van Gerwen in what would be a dream final pairing.
It is over two decades since Phil Taylor’s odds to become World Darts Champion flirted around double figures, but it is the current reality for the 16-time former champion. At 56 years of age, Taylor’s best years are behind him, but he cannot be totally ruled out of consideration. The darting legend showed the level required to become champ again when beating van Gerwen twice inside a weekend to claim the inaugural Champions League of Darts event back in September, but consistency over such a long event is likely to be his ultimate downfall.
‘Snakebite’ Peter Wright is without doubt the most colourful character on the PDC stage, but it is his consistency at the dartboard that suggests the 46 year-old will be a contender at the business end of the tournament. Ranked number three in the world without winning a major event proves how undeviating the Scotsman’s performance levels can be. Wright was the runner-up to van Gerwen at Alexandra Palace back in 2014, and if some shocks occur, then the man with the Mohawk can take advantage at odds of around 12/1.
It would be a major surprise if the 2017 Champion didn’t come from the aforementioned quartet, however, former two-time champion, Adrian Lewis could offer some excellent value if he bounces back to his best at juicy odds of about 33/1. Lewis was runner-up just last year, and has the game to cause upset to all if in the correct frame of mind.