The 2020 PDC World Darts Championship gets underway on December 13 running all the way through to January 1, pitting 96 players against each other for £2.5 million in prize money and the Sid Waddell Trophy live on Sky Sports.
All eyes at the Alexandra Palace will be on the reigning champion and three-time winner here Michael van Gerwen , who bagged this title last year on New Year’s Day 2019 after defeating Michael Smith in the final.
The tournament will also bid an emotional goodbye to Raymond van Barneveld, who will kick off his final tournament as a professional player against Darin Young before potentially meeting compatriot and former protégé Jeffrey de Zwaan in the second round. A Barney win would be hugely popular and for the romantics out there, the Dutch legend has been installed as a 150/1 shot at Betway.
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Another Dutchman, Geert Nentjes, could potentially meet the 2018 World Champion Rob Cross in Round Two, should he get past Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts in his first match. World number two Gerwyn Price will play against William O’Connor or Marko Kantele, while Peter Wright will open up against either Rowby-John Rodriguez or Noel Malicdem. Double World Champion Adrian Lewis, who Betway have priced at 80/1, will face either Cristo Reyes or Lourence Ilagan.
Last year’s runner up Michael Smith will be looking to go one better this time around but will need to navigate his way past Luke Woodhouse or Paul Lim, while another double Ally Pally hero Gary Anderson will meet Brendan Dolan or Nitin Kumar.
Mensur Suljovic can be picked up for 50/1 at Betway which might be of interest to some. The Gentle gets underway against Ted Evetts or Fallon Sherrock, one of two female competitors along with Mikuru Suzuki.
Three-time Lakeside champion Glen Durrant knows what it takes to go all the way in a tournament such as this but the PDC is a step up from the BDO event so there will be no hiding place for Duzza. That said, he has a kind draw and has so far looked at home on this tour, every inch the PDC player and a deep run should come as a surprise to no one. Duzza will make his tournament debut against Jose de Sousa or Damon Heta and has been priced at 28/1 with Betway.
Leading to the event, we will take a look at how the top ten ranked darters on the PDC circuit might fare this time around. Go here for Part 2 of the PDC World Championship Darts 2020 Preview.
PDC World Ranking: 10
Home Town: St Helens, England
Walk on Music: Dizzy (Vic Reeves and The Wonderstuff)
Best World Championship Performance: Quarter Final 2017, 2019
Like the other players here, Dave ‘Chizzy’ Chisnall needn’t worry about his first-round appearance as he doesn’t have one due to being exempt until round two courtesy of seeding. What we do know is that he will be facing either Dutchman Vincent van der Vort or Irish teenager Keane Barry in the next round. A quarter-finalist last year, he has performed strongly in the backend of 2019 since winning the Danish Open in June so he will fancy his chances of going a round or two better at the Alexandra Palace this year.
When he’s on his game, Chizzy is a high-scoring performer with a tendency to land the maximums and has looked in good shape recently making another three finals, a couple of semis plus a run to the last eight of the Grand Slam. That said, his doubles can desert him so you can never expect anything from Chizzy. While I wouldn’t back Chizzy for the win, he looks a strong shout for a runners-up slot and so could maybe be worth an each-way punt.
Betway Price: 22/1
PDC World Ranking: 9
Home Town: Runcorn, England
Walk on Music: Play that funky music (Wild Cherry)
Best World Championship Performance: Quarter Final 2014
Ian White finally made it into a major TV semi-final having bust out in the quarter-finals more times than we can remember. During last month’s Players Championship Finals, he overcame William O’Connor in a 10-9 victory which, while his best televised performance, is still unlikely to propel him on to success at the Aly Pally. Were it not those pesky TV cameras, we might be prepared to drop a little cash on him showing, as he does have a superb form away from TV or in the early rounds of a major event like this one. While he has crept into the world’s top ten, it would take something special to make it through to the later rounds here, even with his semi-final hoodoo put to bed. His best showing here in North London? You guessed it, the quarter-finals of course, which is unlikely to be bettered this year at least.
Betway Price: 66/1
PDC World Ranking: 8
Home Town: Aldershot, England
Nickname: The Machine
Walk on Music: Baba O’Riley (The Who) followed by The Boys Are Back in Town (Thin Lizzy)
Titles: World Matchplay (2007), World Grand Prix (2007, 2010), Premier League (2009), Champions League (2010), European Championship (2018), UK Open (2008, 2011), Darts Masters (2014)
Best World Championship Performance Semi-Final 2009, 2012, 2013
Wade went into this event last year having produced his best form for a long time, collecting two TV wins for the first time since earning the Darts Masters in 2014. But, sadly for The Machine, what a difference 12 months make. The Machine has amassed an impressive eight major trophies in a career that has spanned the dominating brilliance of both Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and Mighty Michael van Gerwen. And yet, save for second place in The Masters and a smattering of regional Players Championship events, it’s been a quiet year for the former mechanic but he remains, as always, very dangerous when his opponents miss their doubles and is one of the best in the world at checkouts so you can never truly rule The Machine out.
Betway Price: 50/1
PDC World Ranking: 7
Home Town: Livingston, Scotland
Walk on Music: Intro to The Greatest Show (The Greatest Showman soundtrack) followed by Don’t Stop the Party (Pitbull)
PDC Titles: UK Open (2017), World Cup of Darts (2019)
Best World Championship Performance: Runner Up (2014)
We will have to wait and see which darts Snakebite will opt for at the Ally Pally given that he messes about with them so much. Fans will certainly hope he chooses wisely as darts’ number one entertainer will be expected, and willed, to go deep in the tournament and add to the Christmas fun. On the oche, Wright had one of his poorer years but picked this up after the summer, reaching the final at the Champions League of Darts and the Grand Slam of Darts, where he lost out to Gerwyn Price.
Snakey will have been on the dartboard sorting out his finishing in time for the Worlds, but as ever, the first game remains essential for him. Early form at the Grand Slam propelled him into the final and a similar start here could provide him with the same kind of momentum to run deep. In fact, the only thing that will likely send him on a long journey at this event is a good start, with some equally good stats. Anything less will do him no favours at all and could leave him in trouble.
Betway Price: 14/1
PDC World Ranking: 6
Home Town: Derry, Northern Ireland
Walk on Music: Superman March (Boston Pops Orchestra and John Williams) followed by Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)
PDC Titles: World Grand Prix (2017), Players Championship Finals (2018)
Best World Championship Performance: Quarter-Final (2017)
Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney will open up his campaign against either Justin Pipe or 40-year-old Benjamin Pratnemer of Slovenia in the second round of the PDC World Darts Championship on Saturday Dec 21. While Superchin will remain confident, one would think that Gurney will be hoping for the latter having never beaten Pipe in a competitive match, losing on the two occasions they have matched up in the past.
Should he put Pipe away — if were they to meet — and then draw, it would pit him against Glenn Durrant in a very tricky tie from which a potential winner could emerge. Superchin has great scoring power but does tend to miss plenty of darts at the double in odd legs. This is always costly when closing out sets in an event such as this, but a fairly kind draw means you have to give him a serious chance of winning this.
Betway Price: 40/1
QUICK GLANCE AT THE 2020 PDC WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP DARTS
Venue: Alexandra Palace, London
Dates: Friday 13.12.2019 to Wednesday 01.01.2020
Format: Best of 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 sets
Current Champion: Michael van Gerwen
Where To Watch: Sky Sports
When To Watch: (1230, 1900 GMT)