The 25th edition of the PDC World Darts Championship is nearly upon us. Not many would have envisioned the way the tournament has grown since its humble beginnings at the Circus Tavern.
And with the 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor set for last hurrah at the Ally Pally, it promises to be the most historic yet. Here is all you need to know ahead of the main event. It just isn’t Christmas without the darts!
The Hot Favourite
— FlashScore.com (@FlashScore2) 27 November 2017
Michael van Gerwen as always remains the hot favourite going into this tournament having won everything there is going in 2017, with the exception of the UK Open (a Riley’s favourite!) which he missed entirely.
The world number one’s list of televised titles this year include the Grand Slam, the Players Championship, the European Championship, the World Series and the Premier League. Not to mention the plethora of titles on the floor and on the Euro and World circuits. There has simply been no one more dominant in the game since the aforementioned Taylor. The Dutchman opens his campaign against fellow countryman Christian Kist. The former Lakeside champion Kist will be able to take some hope from a previous win between the two at a Pro Tour event two years ago. The two clash on the opening evening’s session on Thursday.
The Final Curtain
. @PhilTaylor says he is determined to “enjoy” his final World #Darts Championship and aims to bow out of the sport in a blaze of glory by landing his 17th title: https://t.co/Y9zR9i0CfJ #LoveTheDarts pic.twitter.com/BTmLbJwzus
— Sky Sports Darts (@SkySportsDarts) 2 December 2017
Is this really the end of the legend? Phil Taylor’s final competitive bow will come on the Alexandra Palace stage on which he has been so successful before. 16 World titles and with over two hundred professional tournament victories to his name, it is easy to run out of superlatives for the most successful darts player in history. His win at the World Matchplay in Blackpool, where he is much adorned, showed that he can still mix it at the very highest level. The 56 year old starts his bid for a 17th world crown against the up and coming Chris Dobey. Dobey qualified for the UK Open as a Riley’s qualifier back in 2014 and is now a fixture on the circuit. He has never beaten Taylor however and will have his work cut out on the big stage come this Friday.
The Riley’s Connections
Back home now, some time with the family before I head to Minehead for the Players Championship Finals.
Thanks to the PDC, my Sponsors, management team and my family.
A special thanks to you all, I really appreciate the support.
See you in Minehead.
📷 Mark Robinson/PDC pic.twitter.com/f55jtWrsVE
— Rob Cross (@RobCross180) 19 November 2017
In addition to Dobey, all of us at Riley’s will have plenty to cheer in the form of two other rising stars. You’d be hard pushed to not be aware of the rapid rise of Rob Cross this season, the most successful debut year from anyone in PDC history. And to think it was only last year he qualified for the UK Open through a Qualifier at our Norwich club. A Challenge Tour order of merit, four Pro Titles and a European Championship runner up finish later, Cross is hotly tipped for a Premier League place in a few weeks time. The former electrician is the main event on a Friday night and faces either Japan’s Seigo Asada (a former Lakeside competitor) or the debuting Australian Gordon Mathers.
— Darts Centre (@DartsCentre) 1 December 2017
And what a story for Riley’s Victoria regular Diogo Portela. The Brazilian moved to London just a few years ago in a bid to become a professional and is certainly making great strides towards that goal. Having made his European Tour and World Cup debuts earlier this year, Portela won through at the inaugural South American Qualifier to reach the Worlds. Practicing with fellow debutante Luke Humphries will no doubt help ahead of his match with UK Open champion Peter Wright. The world number two has had a tough few weeks after suffering an infection which has put him out of action for the past few weeks. The pair will battle it out on the final match of the first round on Thursday 21st December.
The Dark Horses
DARYL GURNEY defeats Justin Pipe 6-3 in the Semi-Final of Players Championship 15, he will face Darren Webster in the Final! pic.twitter.com/L04daGiNPi
— Darts News (@livedartsnews) 8 July 2017
Despite van Gerwen’s dominance on the circuit this year, a few new faces have broken through in terms of winning televised titles this year. Daryl Gurney’s World Gran Prix title will live long in the memory, while Mensur Suljovic’s Champions League win was just as impressive. The pair open up against Ronny Huybrechts and Kevin Painter respectively. Both pairs are all square in previous head to heads. Multiple-time World Champions Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld can’t be overlooked, with both tending to find an extra gear or three when upon the Ally Pally stage. Flying Scotsman Gary Anderson opens up against either Youth Tour Order of Merit winner Luke Humphries and Lakeside favourite Jeff Smith in itself is one of the more mouth-watering ties of the Preliminary round.
The FINAL 2017 ANNUAL RANKING is here!
Paul Lim (Singapore)：213 pts
Royden Lam (Hong Kong)：183 pts
Alex Reyes (USA)：173 pts
Boris Krcmar (Croatia)：168 pts pic.twitter.com/SwW6NHGxVV
— THE WORLD (@darts_theworld) 4 December 2017
The evergreen Paul Lim is the oldest man in the field at the age of 63. Singapore’s Lim of course is known for hitting the only nine dart finish ever seen at the BDO Worlds at Lakeside. He takes on Hong Kong’s Kai Fan Leung. World Masters champion Krzysztof Ratajski was added to the field late in the day but is a dangerous presence in the field given his form on the European Tour this year. He faces Lethal Biscuit (that’s a new nickname folks!) James Wilson.
The Stats & Facts
⚠️ *UPSET ALERT!* ⚠️
🎯 Adrian Lewis is out of the World Series of Darts, losing in the first round to Max Hopp. pic.twitter.com/n0NvfXBGCE
— bet365 (@bet365) 3 November 2017
Adrian Lewis has the most to lose in this tournament (aside from 2016 Champ Gary Anderson of course) and an early exit will cost Jackpot dearly and a possible exit out of the world’s top 16. After exiting in the 1st round of the World Gran Prix and the World Series, he also failed to qualify for the Grand Slam. There were green shoots of encouragement at the Players Championships however. Lewis faces either Germany’s Kevin Munch or Russia’s Alexander Oreshakin who pushed Mervyn King so close two years ago.
Other stats, Dave Chisnall has beaten Vincent van der Voort in his past five matches. James Richardson has never beaten Kim Huybrechts. Spanish teammates Cristo Reyes and Anthony Alcinas have to face off against one another in all Spanish clash.
NEW PODCAST! World Cup Review, Euro Tour Preview, and Andy Hamilton Interview
— Love The Darts 🎯 (@lovethedartsmag) 7 June 2017
Not being at the Worlds has resulted in some drastic drops in the rankings for some of the circuit’s mainstays. Dave Pallett, Jeffrey de Zwaan and 2010 runner-up Andy Hamilton will all have to go to Q School in January if they are to return to the PDC Pro Tour full time. Wes Newton meanwhile will fall outside the top 100. Ricky Evans should just cling onto his Tour Card baring any surprise runs from those lower than him in the rankings.
The Prize Money
Rodriguez and Roelofs to Contest the @JDCdarts World Final at Alexandra Palace 🎯
➡️Read Here: https://t.co/ntlfeKGnrP
— Winmau (@Winmau) 4 December 2017
There is record prize money up for grabs once again at Ally Pally with at least £4.5k for a prelim loser and by contrast a whopping £400k to the winner. Put tournament can make or break people’s seasons.
Winner (1) £400,000
Runner-up (1) £170,000
Semi-finalist (2) £85,000
Quarter-finalist (4) £40,000
Third round losers (8) £27,000
Second round losers (16) £18,500
First round losers (32) £11,000
Preliminary round losers (8) £4,500
Nine-dart finish £20,000