The World Darts Championships started last night and it is a darts fans favourite time of year with games to watch every day and the biggest tournament of the year. What’s not to love? Here are my top 10 contenders for this years Sid Waddell Trophy.
1: Michael Van Gerwen. Unstoppable in 2016 playing some of the greatest darts the world has ever seen winning almost every title and putting up the greatest average of all time along the way in the Premier League against Michael Smith. For me it won’t even be close and MVG will win this title without a doubt.
2: Gary Anderson. Aiming to make it a threepeat in the World Championships always puts in his best performances at Alexandra Palace including a demolition of Jelle Klassen in the Semi Finals last year which to this day is one of the best World Championship performances I have ever seen.
3: Phil Taylor. “Never write off Phil Taylor.” It has been said by every darts fan hundreds of times and as much as I want to say he has no chance at winning this year I can’t because he is still the best player of all time and can easily beat Van Gerwen if he puts in his best performances
4: Dave Chisnall. Much improved since finishing last in the Premier League this year runner up in the players championship and semi finalist in the World Grand Prix I expect Chizzy to make at least the quarter finals this year. He has been accused of being a 180 merchant in the past by me but he has improved his finishing a lot and that could take him very far in this tournament.
5: Peter Wright. Always the bridesmaid never the bride. Snakebite has been one of the best players in the world since 2012 but he is yet to win a major event as Taylor, MVG and Anderson have shared almost every trophy since 2012. Overdue would be an understatement but he needs to learn how to hold his nerve in the big matches. My favourite player at the moment so I will be cheering him on over the next 3 weeks.
6: James Wade. Similar story to Peter Wright, arguably the best player to never win a world championship James Wade has been on a downward spiral for a while now being eliminated in round 1 of the Grand Prix and only reaching the last 32 of the Players Championship will he be able to bounce back?
7: Raymond Van Barneveld. Ask any Darts fan who they wanted to win this competition last year and I guarantee at least 80% will say RVB. Playing in the greatest game of darts I ever saw in the last 32 against Michael Van Gerwen last year, and putting on similar heroics in the last 16 against Michael Smith. RVB had a fantastic campaign here last year and hopefully can put on some performances of a similar quality this time round.
8&9: Adrian Lewis and Jelle Klassen. You know how earlier I said James Wade had been on a downward spiral? These two have been out of form for months. Lewis falling to minnows such as Steve West and Ricky Williams. Didn’t make it past the last 32 of the past 2 majors and failed to qualify for the European Championships. The worst year of his career so far however if you were to tell him that on twitter he would somehow twist it and make himself out to be Phil Taylor in his prime. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to see many Jelle Klassen games this year as he has been getting eliminated from TV events too early for me to see anything substantial. After being somewhat embarrassingly defeated by Steve Beaton in the World Matchplay he is not playing to the standard he played at in this tournament last year.
10: Michael Smith. A player who has massively gone down in my estimations since I first saw him play beating MVG in a tour event. This time last year I was telling anyone who would listen to back Michael Smith in this tournament as I was so impressed by him. Smith has been disappointing this year though not reaching any major semi finals. However I will always back him up and say on his day he can beat anyone in the PDC which is why he is my number 10 pick.
Honourable Mention: Ian White. A man who can hit 180s as good as him should not be taken lightly so don’t be surprised if he beats one of the big players in this competition.