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World Darts Championship: Who to watch at Alexandra Palace and will there be any shocks? | Darts News

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Laura Turner looks ahead to the PDC World Darts Championship and tips Michael van Gerwen for a fourth title, whilst adding that Fallon Sherrock is in the right frame of mind heading in to the tournament

Laura Turner looks ahead to the PDC World Darts Championship and tips Michael van Gerwen for a fourth title, whilst adding that Fallon Sherrock is in the right frame of mind heading in to the tournament

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Laura Turner looks ahead to the PDC World Darts Championship and tips Michael van Gerwen for a fourth title, whilst adding that Fallon Sherrock is in the right frame of mind heading in to the tournament

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It’s almost Christmas, which means one thing! The World Darts Championship is upon us. Here’s who to watch at Ally Pally and are you wondering whether there will be any shocks early doors?

The action kicks off on Thursday night from 7pm – live on Sky Sports Darts – with Peter Wright defending his title against either Mickey Mansell or Ben Robb, who meet in the opening match of the tournament.

‘Snakebite’ is in confident mood of lifting the Sid Waddell trophy for a third time in four years.

“I know what to do to prepare for the world championship – I’ve won it twice in the past three years – so as long as I do the same things as I normally do, there should be no reason why I can’t play well,” said the 52-year-old Scot.

“I’m looking forward to picking up old Sid next year. It’s up to the rest of them to try and stop me.

Round One: Mickey Mansell vs Ben Robb

Round One: Keane Barry vs Grant Sampson

Round One: Jermaine Wattimena vs Nathan Rafferty

Round Two: Peter Wright vs Mansell/Robb

“If you play early like Peter Wright, he will play and if he wins then he will watch so many players lose, so by the time he’s back the field will more or less be halved. It’s what you want to see because you come back and think ‘now we’re in it'”

Wayne Mardle

The 'Love The Darts' panel discuss their favourite moments from the 2022 Grand Slam of Darts. Will it be Michael Smith breaking his major title duck, or Josh Rock's overexuberant 9-darter celebration?

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The ‘Love The Darts’ panel discuss their favourite moments from the 2022 Grand Slam of Darts. Will it be Michael Smith breaking his major title duck, or Josh Rock’s overexuberant 9-darter celebration?

The ‘Love The Darts’ panel discuss their favourite moments from the 2022 Grand Slam of Darts. Will it be Michael Smith breaking his major title duck, or Josh Rock’s overexuberant 9-darter celebration?

On Friday afternoon, Adrian Lewis enters the fray against Daniel Larsson looking to recapture the form which helped him become a two-time back-to-back champion along with ‘The Hurricane’ Kim Huybrechts, who faces the winner of Keane Barry or Grant Sampson.

‘Bully Boy’ Michael Smith finally claimed a major title at the ninth time of asking at the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton last month. He takes on Jermaine Wattimena or Nathan Rafferty in the second round on Friday evening.

The St Helens thrower is among the favourites to win the competition having finished as runner-up in 2019 and last year against Wright.

2018 Premier League

2018 World Series of Darts Finals

2019 PDC World Championship

2019 World Matchplay

2020 Masters

2022 PDC World Championship

2022 UK Open

2022 European Championship

2022 Grand Slam of Darts

Who is Josh Rock?

Josh Rock won the World Youth Championship at Butlin's in Minehead last month

Josh Rock won the World Youth Championship at Butlin’s in Minehead last month

If you haven’t heard of young Rock, where have you been? You will soon know what all the hype is about when the 21-year-old battles Jose Justicia on Saturday night at The Palace before a potential clash against ‘The Riot’ Callan Rydz on Wednesday evening – now that will be good!

January: Rock secures his PDC Tour Card

He goes on to win five Development Tour titles

August: Rock averages 121.88 in 6-1 demolition of Brendan Dolan at PC22

October: Rock wins first senior PDC ranking title in Barnsley

October: Rock makes televised debut at European Championship in Dortmund

November: The 21-year-old features at the Grand Slam of Darts where he hits a nine-dart finish against MVG

November: Rock becomes the PDC’s World Youth champion with a record-breaking performance in Minehead

December: Rock will make his World Championship bow at Ally Pally against Spain’s Jose Justicia

Rock, who hails from Ballymena, played full-back for Antrim Rovers before deciding that darts was his future.

“There’s no point playing darts or any sport if you don’t believe. I want to be world No 1 and I want to be world champion,” said Rock.

“Everybody says I’ve got an old head on young shoulders, but I’m happy that I’m that way.

“To learn to win you have to beat the big boys, but I have a lot of years in this game left.”

“The 21-year-old is 47th in the Order of Merit heading into the World Championship and is sixth favourite with the bookmakers to win the whole thing! That shows you just how incredible his debut year in the PDC has been. For someone who’s played just a handful of matches on the big stage (one of which included a nine-darter against Michael van Gerwen) he’s clearly taking it all in his stride and relishing every opportunity. I expect Saturday to be no different!”

Emma Paton on Josh Rock

Keep an eye on Bewdley thrower Luke Woodhouse on Sunday afternoon against Vladyslav Omelchenko. ‘Woody’ reached the last 32 at Ally Pally in 2020 and has the potential to go on a run.

Saying that, if he wins his opening match, he will have to face world No 1 Gerwyn Price on Monday night, but the opportunity of taking on the former champion won’t worry him one bit.

Welshman Price has a penchant for hitting nine-darters. He’s already struck four of them this year, with two of them in one night in the Premier League in Belfast and his fourth arriving at the World Matchplay this summer.

The first of them came during a dramatic 5-4 defeat against Michael Smith at the Worlds.

Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship

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Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship

Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship

Must-watch matches of Round One? Greaves, Sherrock & Ashton

Speaking on the latest episode of Love The Darts, Mark Webster and Michael Bridge discuss how Beau Greaves will do on her World Championship debut

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Speaking on the latest episode of Love The Darts, Mark Webster and Michael Bridge discuss how Beau Greaves will do on her World Championship debut

Speaking on the latest episode of Love The Darts, Mark Webster and Michael Bridge discuss how Beau Greaves will do on her World Championship debut

The brilliant Beau Greaves takes on Willie O’Connor this Friday night. She may only be 18, but ‘Beau ‘n’ Arrow’ has been averaging telephone numbers this year, so keep a very close eye on her progress.

After that? If she wins, the Doncaster thrower will face Germany’s Gabriel Clemens before a potential third-round clash against James Wade. Now we’d all like to see that!

Women's World Matchplay winner Fallon Sherrock was handed a spot at the World Championship

Women’s World Matchplay winner Fallon Sherrock was handed a spot at the World Championship

Fallon Sherrock opens against ‘Rapid’ Ricky Evans and if she wins that, then ‘The Queen of the Palace’ will take on Joe Cullen next Friday night.

Rapid by name, rapid by nature, Evans lands his darts in under three seconds so expect some serious sparks to fly.

Veteran Lisa Ashton will be hoping to break her Ally Pally duck against Ryan Meikle on Saturday night with the doyen of Dutch darts Raymond van Barneveld awaiting the winner.

Is Barney back?

Remember when Raymond van Barneveld stunned red-hot favourite Michael van Gerwen in an unforgettable clash between the Dutch legends?

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Remember when Raymond van Barneveld stunned red-hot favourite Michael van Gerwen in an unforgettable clash between the Dutch legends?

Remember when Raymond van Barneveld stunned red-hot favourite Michael van Gerwen in an unforgettable clash between the Dutch legends?

Sunday evening is headlined by Van Barneveld. The five-time world champion is showing signs of his best form in recent months having made it to the semi-finals of the Grand Slam of Darts.

“The World Championship is the big one. This is the one you want to win. You want to perform well,” he said.

“You need to have that belief and that’s why I often cannot handle defeat very well, because I know what my dreams and my goals are, and when you don’t achieve them, it’s hard to deal with.”

“This would be a story but should Raymond van Barneveld come through against Ryan Meikle or Lisa Ashton then he could face Gerwyn Price, but why should he fear him? If he were to upset him, then he would take the No 1 seed’s place in the draw. There’s no question mark over whether Van Barneveld can beat Price. He has beaten him over the shorter format and beaten him over the long format and Price knows that”

Wayne Mardle on RVB

Why is Michael van Gerwen red-hot favourite?

The Love The Darts team discuss who their favourite is for this year's World Darts Championship and also who they think will be the player to watch

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The Love The Darts team discuss who their favourite is for this year’s World Darts Championship and also who they think will be the player to watch

The Love The Darts team discuss who their favourite is for this year’s World Darts Championship and also who they think will be the player to watch

On Wednesday evening, Van Gerwen takes on the winner of the match between Niels Zonneveld and Lewy Williams.

‘Mighty Mike’ may not be No 1, but he’s playing better than anyone else in the field heading to Ally Pally.

The 33-year-old has won four major titles in 2022 and claims he has nothing to prove as he looks to further cement
himself as one of the darting greats.

“He’s playing the best darts in the world right now and I really think he can bag number four at Alexandra Palace”

Mardle on MVG

“Of course I want to add more, but as long as I keep winning tournaments, world championships will follow,” said the three-time winner here.

“That’s how it is, keep believing in yourself. People always say you have to do this or that, I have won four big tournaments this season so I am not complaining.

“I am doing fine. From this moment, there is only more to come.

“I don’t have to prove anything, what I did in darts in the last 10 or 15 years, everyone knows what I am capable of. I just want to do the thing I love the most and that is play as well as possible.”

Who are the surprise packages?

Steve Beaton might be 58 years of age but he continues to strut his stuff to 'Stayin' Alive' on the Ally Pally stage

Steve Beaton might be 58 years of age but he continues to strut his stuff to ‘Stayin’ Alive’ on the Ally Pally stage

‘The Bronzed Adonis’ Steve Beaton continues to defy logic as he opens up against Danny van Trijp on Monday night. The 1996 Lakeside winner be playing in his 32nd successive World Championship.

He has a potential second-round date with ‘The Ferret’ Jonny Clayton on Friday, December 23.

Nathan Aspinall has already reached two major finals in the space of a few weeks at the World Grand Prix and the Grand Slam of Darts. He faces the winner of Boris Krcmar or Toru Suzuki and he could potentially play Josh Rock in the third round blockbuster.

Danny Noppert has hopes of making it into next year's Premier League

Danny Noppert has hopes of making it into next year’s Premier League

Danny Noppert won a first major at the UK Open back in March and ‘The Freeze’ has the potential to go far in the tournament. He takes on either Ritchie Edhouse or David Cameron first with former World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney a potential opponent in the third round.

Jose de Sousa, Dave Chisnall, Dirk van Duijvenbode, James Wade, Rob Cross, Joe Cullen, European Champion Ross Smith and ‘The Flying Scotsman’ Gary Anderson are all serious dark horses.

Watch the 2023 PDC World Darts Championship – live on Sky Sports – from December 15 to January 3.

 

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