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Will Taylor Bid A Fond Farewell Or Will Van Gerwen Rule The PDC Darts World Again?

December 13, 2017

Starting this coming Thursday (14th October) and running right through Christmas and into Bet365 SkyBet DartsJanuary to culminate in the final on New Year’s Day, the PDC World Darts Championship 2018 is always one of the sporting highlights of the festive season. 72 of the world’s greatest darts players will line up at the Alexandra Palace in London to compete to become the next Champion of the World.

Coral Sport will be offering an extensive service for the event with plenty of great betting available both pre-event and also In Play betting available as the matches take place across the rounds. There is also a couple of great Outright markets available for the Winner and also To Reach The Final, which we shall look at in more detail later in the article.

First off, let’s bring you a little detail about how the opening rounds of the PDC World Darts Championship are structured, before we bring you details of some of the intriguing sub-plots that will likely form a key part of the next two and half weeks of darting drama.

PDC World Darts Tournament Structure

There are a total of seven rounds in the World Darts Championship, Preliminary Round, First Round, Second Round, Third Round, Quarter Finals, Semi Finals and the Final.

However, the First Round and the Preliminary Round are played concurrently across the first eight days of the tournament (from Thursday 14th to Thursday 21st December).

Each evening between those dates, the first match of the night will be a Preliminary Round contest between two of 16 Preliminary Round qualifiers. This is played over the best of three sets to decide the winner. The winning player will then play a seeded player in the First Round in the last game of the evening (which usually gets underway around 10pm at night – although this can differ depending on the length of the other First Round games preceding it).

The eight matches taking place in the Preliminary Round are as follows:

  • Jeff Smith (Can) v Luke Humphries (Eng)
  • Brendan Dolan (Ire) v Alan Ljubic (Cro)
  • Zong Xiaochen (Chn) v Bernie Smith (Aus)
  • Kenny Neyebs (Bel) v Jamie Lewis (Wal)
  • Seigo Asada (Jap) v Gordon Mathers (Aus)
  • Kai Fan Leung (H.K) v Paul Lim (Sgp)
  • Willard Bruguier (USA) v Cody Harris (Aus)
  • Aleksandr Oreshkin (Rus) v Kevin Munch (Ger)

After the completion of the Preliminary and First Round over the best-of-five sets, the second round then commences and from here on in, it is a straight knockout tournament. The Second and Third Round are played over the best-of-seven sets, the Quarter Finals are the best-of-nine and the semis best-of-11. The Final is played over the best-of-13 sets.

PDC World Championship Prize Money

This year’s event has a total prize pool of £1.8m up for grabs, the largest prize in World Darts history. The winner will also pocket £400,000, up £50,000 from last year. The runner up takes home £170,000 and the two losing semi-finalists each pocket £85,000.

The prize for a nine-dart finish is £20,000.

The Current PDC World Rankings

The top 32 seeds in the PDC World Rankings are all seeded in the First Round of the tournament and the 32 players that have earned that right and their respective positions in the ranking table, are outlined below:

Rank Name Rank Name Rank Name Rank Name
1 Michael van Gerwen 9 Raymond van Barneveld 17 Ian White 25 Steve Beaton
2 Peter Wright 10 Simon Whitlock 18 Kim Huybrechts 26 Cristo Reyes
3 Gary Anderson 11 James Wade 19 Joe Cullen 27 Justin Pipe
4 Daryl Gurney 12 Jelle Klaasen 20 Rob Cross 28 Rob Thornton
5 Mensur Suljovic 13 Michael Smith 21 Stephen Bunting 29 John Henderson
6 Phil Taylor 14 Benito van de Pas 22 Mervyn King 30 Mark Webster
7 Adrian Lewis 15 Alan Norris 23 Darren Webster 31 Jonny Clayton
8 Dave Chisnall 16 Gerwyn Price 24 Kyle Anderson 32 James Wilson

The other 24 players that qualified for the event alongside the Preliminary Round players and the seeds see 16 qualify from the Pro Tour, while one won the PDPA Qualifier and Seven earned places in International Qualifiers held around the globe. They are:

  • Pro Tour Qualifiers (16) – Richard North, Vincent van der Voort, Christian Kist, Ronny Huybrechts, Jermaine Wattimena, Steve West, Zoran Lerchbacher, Dmitri Van den Bergh, Jan Dekker, Keegan Brown, James Richardson, Peter Jacques, Martin Schindler, Chris Dobey, Steve Lennon and Kevin Painter.
  • PDPA Qualifier (1) – Ted Evetts
  • International Qualifiers (7) – Antonio Alcinas, Marko Kantele, William O’Connor, Devon Petersen, Diogo Portela, Krzysztof Ratajski and Kim Viljanen

Will Phil Taylor bid farewell to the circuit with a victory in his last ever event?

One of the most intriguing sub texts to this year’s World Championship is that it is Phil Taylor’s last ever tour event before he retires. The 14-time PDC World Champion (16 World Titles in total if you include his two BDO World Titles) is a legend of the game but he himself has realised he cannot find his top form as often as he used to.

Even so, he still won the World Matchplay in Blackpool for the 16th time this year and many of his legions of fans will be hoping Taylor can upset the odds and land victory number 15 at the Ally Pally. Coral rate him as a 12/1 chance to do that and there will be more than a few takers at that price.

Can anybody stop Michael Van Gerwen’s relentless march to victory?

Over the past three years, Michael Van Gerwen has dominated darts at the top level, so much so that it is more a surprise when the Dutchman doesn’t win a top-class event. He is Taylor’s natural successor and he is a massive 8/11 odds on to win the title this year, which would be his third in total.

Van Gerwen has dominated the PDC scene this year winning six Major events over the course of the year (if you include last year’s World Championship as the first) and he is the top ranked player by a country mile.

However, the Dutchman has started slowly in this event at times and against Christian Kist, he faces a fellow Dutchman who was also a World Champion (in the BDO) and who has the game to take full advantage should Van Gerwen not start the tournament in top form. Kist may be 16/1 to win this opener, but given the short format of the game, it may be the best chance anyone has to beat Van Gerwen before we reach the semi-final or final stage.

Who else stands a chance?

According to Coral outside of Van Gerwen and Taylor, you can back Gary Anderson at 13/2 to win the tournament, while Peter Wright is 10/1 and the fantastic new talent Rob Cross is a 12/1 shot alongside Taylor. Outside of that group however the odds drift considerably with only the likes of Adrian Lewis (33/1), Mensur Suljovic (50/1) and Daryl Gurney (40/1) rated as having any real chance of landing the iwn here.

A better bet – To Reach The Final Market

With Van Gerwen’s dominance of the event likely, a better option may be to consider who will reach the final to face him. With the draw being structured, you are looking at players in the bottom half of the draw and from there you generally have most of Van Gerwen’s most problematic opponents.

Personally, I’m a romantic, so I am going to tip Phil Taylor to come through and claim a spot in the final at odds of 4/1 with Coral.

About Ian John

Ian John
Working my way though the UK's top online poker sites (and some of the ones near the bottom as well) to bring you a first-hand take on the absolute best choices for online poker players from the UK.