Pally Predictions of the Pundits and Pros

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Excellence and variety have been the two hallmarks of the PDC’s annual ‘Winter Wonderland’ in its first 30 years and 2024’s edition is unlikely to be any less so.

Indeed, many suggest that this is the most open event in recent memory with a player who until this year hadn’t won a TV major being tipped as the favourite of fans and pundits alike. 

The early years of the PDC ‘Worlds’ were marked by 5 battles between two of those most personified darting excellence and were responsible for lifting darts to a new level. Messrs Taylor and Priestley met in four of the first handful of finals and again at the dawn of the new millennium. Although Taylor won all but the first, that one victory ensured that Dennis’s place in darting history was forever ensured. 

Since Phil began to plateau (or did the others catch up?), and especially at Ally Pally, variety has been the spice of darting life. We have witnessed the prodigy made good (MVG), ‘about time too’ players (Anderson and later Smith) and, of course, the ultimate fairytale in Rob Cross. 

Will we see a repeat lift of ‘Big Sid’ or could it be a 9th name on the Sid Waddell Trophy?

Other notable highlights over the years have been the outsider’s run and the outstanding early game. Kirk Shepherd going all the way to the final, Priestley vs Anderson(2011) or Cross vs Van den Bergh’s early battle pop into mind, but you will recall your favourites, we asked the DW team and some friends how they see this year’s event.

The Player:

The Wizard – Our former World’s Qtr finalist Colin Osborne is looking to see The Green Machine hit the turbo as MVG goes for another title. His selection of Stephen Bunting as an outside bet seems less of a punt, The Bullet has performed well at The Palace before. The former UK Open finalist also suggests that Luke Woodhouse vs Berry van Peer is worth a look. Two 2024 form men battling for the chance to play Josh Rock.

STEPHEN BUNTING IN ACTION (PIC;LAWRENCE LUSTIG) 

The Coach:

It’s about time that Gerwyn Price laid to rest the ghost of the ‘can’t win with the crown in London’ thing. I have a blind spot for Gary Anderson and his form in 2023 means I can even justify it. The game that jumps out is Ricardo Pietreczko vs Mikuru Sizuki. With all that went on in Wolverhampton, and a crowd that might want to get involved, this could be very tasty indeed. The Miracle is in fine shape, but, if the real Ricardo turns up he’ll be alright.

AIM180
Gerwyn Price (Pic: Christopher Dean/PDC)

The Reporter:

Our man has been interviewing and watching the worlds best, at close quarters , all year but who stands out for him?

“It’s Luke Humphries for me after the year he has had. Damon Heta could be one to go on a run and cause trouble. He is getting better and better and might be chasing a Premier League spot”. Ryan Joyce vs Alex Spellman is my pick of the early games. Relentless has hit stage form at the perfect time and Spellman has impressed all year, could be a real battle. 

Harry Masterson

A European View

Wim Blokpoel often gains added insight from being less UK focused than many of the rest of the darts media. This time however even the proud Dutchman has put Luke Humphries to the top of the pile. The orange of the Netherlands is poking through in Wim’s selection of Danny Noppert to be the ‘outside run’ of this year. Wim was also the 2nd of the team to suggest that Joyce vs Spellman could be an early belter, he is also looking forward to the possible second round between Jim Williams and Peter Wright.

Danny Noppert

The Writer:

Thomas Bartley – has been thinking and writing about these guys for most of the season. He is one (of many) who plumps for the Humphries, Anderson pairing, despite a little reluctance initially. “Looking slightly ahead it would be fabulous to see Stowe Buntz take on Michael Smith“.

The Inside Track?

Senior Industry Insider – Those close to the top of the darts business see a lot and hear even more. They know all kinds of inside gossip and facts about player’s personal circumstances and motivations. So we asked for the discreet ‘word on the street’. Shockingly, Anderson was the suggested favourite. Nathan Aspinall was nominated as the player for the run. MVG vs Barry or Rivera looks like a good opener.

The Referee:

Rob Cross (Credit: Taka Wu/PDC)

John Fowler – has officiated at almost every level of our game and regularly works with the best talent. He is also known as a bit of a betting maestro so can be worth a listen if you a fluttering sort:

Luke Humphries will take some stopping, as long as his present form holds up. Obviously MVG is dangerous after having to lick his wounds a few times lately. Rob Cross is overpriced with the bookie chaps in my humble opinion and I think that Luke Littler could go far, under the radar as they say.

The match I’m looking forward to in the early stages is the one between Ricardo Pietreczko and Mikaru Suzuki. It will be interesting to see how he handles it…

JayEff

When we asked a wider group of readers, staff and friends we could not get past the Luke Humphries as favourite and Gary Anderson to go on a major run combination. So although the event may be technically as open as ever before many see only two or three possible winners. throughout our requests we only heard Luke MVG or Gerwyn to actually lift the Big Sid.

Teenage Sensation Luke Littler, tipped for a run by readers and pundits alike

There was wider views on the outsider run with Anderson, Bunting, Cross, Heta and Littler being most often cited.

So what do you, the reader think, as Brian Clough once said, “its only opinion and everybody’s got one”, pop along to our social sites and add yours: Twitter / X – @Darts_World

—–ENDS—–

Images: PDC

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