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Christmas simply wouldn’t be Christmas without the darts, and the annual festive feast of arrows returns as 96 of the world’s best compete for glory at Ally Pally.
The biggest event on planet darts sees the sport’s elite compete across 16 days for the £500,000 title and a chance to etch their name into the history books.
Michael van Gerwen, the reigning and three-time World Champion, is bidding to successfully defend the trophy for the first time and unsurprisingly returns to the people’s palace as red hot favourite to extend his reign.
Van Gerwen has enjoyed another supreme season of success, winning the Premier League, World Grand Prix, Champions League and Players Championship Finals to name but a few and his formidable record in the sport’s show-piece has seen him reach at least the Semi-Final stage in six of his last seven appearances.
Expect that trend to continue this year, with the world number one having been handed a relatively straightforward passage into the latter stages on paper, with James Wade a potential Quarter-Final opponent before possible meetings with the likes of Gary Anderson, Michael Smith or Nathan Aspinall in the Semis.
Van Gerwen’s rampant record and favourable section of the draw is reflected in his short price of 5/4, but it’s unlikely the smart money will be going on the green machine.
Instead, punters have been piling their money on Van Gerwen’s current closest challenger and now serial title contender – Gerwyn Price.
Price has come alive at the business end of the season, retaining his first major title at the Grand Slam a fortnight ago in between finishing runner-up in the European Championship and Players Championship Finals.
Seeded number three, the Welshman is aiming to banish his torrid record at Ally Pally, having lost in the opening round of four of his five previous appearances, but should have little problem in reaching at least the Quarter-Finals, by which time the extended format should play into his hands and a potential final show-down with MVG could be on the cards.
World Darts Championship Day 12 tips
Michael van Gerwen resumes the defence of his world title with a Fourth Round show-down against world number 17 Stephen Bunting on Friday night.
Van Gerwen has dropped just one set en route to the Last 16, recovering from losing the opener against Dutch rival Jelle Klaasen to prevail 3-1 before whitewashing Ricky Evans 4-0 in a quick-fire demolition.
The world number one now aims to flex his muscles further as the tournament enters the latter stages and is vying for a 17th victory over ‘The Bullet’ in 20 meetings.
Van Gerwen starts out as 1/12 favourite to see off the former Lakeside Champion, but in terms of seeking out value, even money for the defending champion to land at least one bullseye finish looks to be a tempting price in the YourOdds market.
The Dutch sensation landed the 170 checkout in his opening match and should give himself ample attempts at the red bit over the best of seven sets.