THE 2018 World Darts Championship is well underway at Alexandra Palace in London, where world number one and defending campion Michael van Gerwen bids for a third Sid Waddell title.
A generous £1.8million in prize money is up for grabs but there’s plenty of other stories to be found elsewhere across the tournament. Phil Taylor makes his final competitive appearance before retirement while the likes of Gary Anderson, who hit the most 180s last year with 71, and Peter Wright, who searches for his first illustrious world crown, make up the 72-man field.
There’s a possible all-Dutch quarter final between Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld on the cards while the chance of a van Gerwen v Taylor final would prove the perfect send-off for The Power, who bows out after 16 incredible world championship wins.
Taylor cruised past Chris Dobey in his First Round match on Friday despite a nervy start. He later admitted he was “tired” but assured fans he would be fighting fit again after a few days off and is still amongst the favourites to get his hands on the trophy.
Gary Anderson, who lost the final to Michael van Gerwen in January, swept Jeff Smith aside in a 3-0 win on Saturday night. Anderson, a two-time back-to-back PDC World Champion, is second-favourite to win this year’s title. He could meet fellow Scot Peter Wright in the semi-finals but whether his countryman is up for the fight remains to be seen. He was recently rushed to hospital with suspected gallstones and spent last week recovering.
Looking ahead this week, UK Open champion Peter Wright squares up against Diogo Portela in the evening session on Thursday night. The Scot was runner-up in 2014 but like many others came a cropper against van Gerwen.
Speaking of our hot favourite van Gerwen, he needed to be at his very best to beat Christian Kist in his First Round match last week. The all-conquering Dutchman came into the match on a 29-game winning streak and hit the ground running with three 100+ finishes, 69% checkout rate and an average of 106.17.
MvG told the waiting press afterwards: “I’m not unbeatable but I am feeling close to it.”
There have already been some upsets in the early days, with 7th seed Adrian Lewis, 8th seed Dave Chisnall and 11th seed James Wade all heading home before Christmas.
The action continues until the evening of the 23rd and resumes on Wednesday, 27th December. The final is played over the best of 13 sets on New Year’s Day.