Can Gerwyn Go Back to Back?
Given how dominant the Welshman can be many see him as favourite, or a very strong contender, to defend his title. However, back-to-back titles have only been one by Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis and Gray Anderson. You might say it requires phenomenal talent, peak performance and a very strong mind. The fact that MVG has yet to manage it gives an indication of the task ahead of the Iceman.
Are We Due a Classic?
The last five finals have featured high-quality action but have been relatively comfortable for the winner. The last 3 finals and four out of the last five have been won by 7 sets to 3 (The one in between was 7-2). Previous to that were a couple of closer affairs both won by Gary Anderson. It may be wishful thinking but the number of strong contenders in superb form, coupled with the fact that players get at least some rest before the final seems to suggest we may be in for final game thriller.
The New Champion Treble?
Never before has the PDC event, sponsored this year by William Hill, produced a new champion three years in succession. Could we be in for another unique darts treble? There certainly are candidates who fit the mold of a first-time champion this year.
Jonny Clayton has claimed multiple TV crowns in a variety of formats and was oozing confidence. Michael Smith has again gone close this year and, as a former finalist, why should he break his TV major hoodoo here?
Then there are others who have tasted victory on the biggest stages in the last couple of years and those returning to their best. Dimitri Van Den Bergh, Jose de Sousa, Rob Cross or Nathan Aspinall for example.
Only Rob Cross can be classed as a genuine outsider to go all the way to the title. But even he had reached a major TV ranking final already. So although Krystopf Ratajaski and several others could cause real damage amongst the favoured names, it's hard to see the trophy being held aloft by another fairy story this year.
More Perfect Moments?
Having waited from 1994 to 2009 for a 9-Darter at the game's biggest event Raymond Van Barnevels'd first started a rush. A total of nine were hit between RVB's opener and 2016 when Gary Anderson added his name to the single figured list. We have not had one since! Surely the talent, form and variety of style this year will result in at least one. Personally, I was surprised that the calm, quiet conditions last year didn't produce one. perhaps the encouragement of the crowd is less distracting than is thought.
Might it be worth a look at the odds on more than one perfect leg or perhaps a record haul of three or more? Two were struck in both 2013 and 2014 and there were fewer matches then.
Just Your Average World Championship Then?
The average stats and records are interesting to many and provide punters with information and commentators with material to expound upon. Occasionally they also indicate a classic game. Michael van Gerwen recently told Darts World that his toughest game was the 2017 Semifinal victory vs Barney where both men hit huge averages overall (114 vs 109).
Often, however, they simply indicate how well one player performed in a relatively one-sided match. More remarkable is the fact that Phil Taylor still holds the highest final performance (over 110) over a decade ago and is second in the highest ever recorded at the Championships with his 111.21 twenty years ago in the 2001/2 finals.
This year could see more games of the type where both players average around 104/5 and the match goes all the way. These are thrillers and resemble heavyweight title battles but sadly often fall just below those that make the top table in the stat archives.
Whatever we are served by this year's tungsten titans it will be a full-throated and highly competitive affair back in front of a full crowd who have had a long time to wait for their big nights!
Roll of Honour
1994 Dennis Priestley def Phil Taylor 6-1
1995 Phil Taylor def Rod Harrington 6-2
1996 Phil Taylor def Dennis Priestley 6-4
1997 Phil Taylor def Dennis Priestley 6-3
1998 Phil Taylor def Dennis Priestley 6-0
1999 Phil Taylor def Peter Manley 6-2
2000 Phil Taylor def Dennis Priestley 7-3
2001 Phil Taylor def John Part 7-0
2002 Phil Taylor def Peter Manley 7-0
2003 John Part def Phil Taylor 7-6
2004 Phil Taylor def Kevin Painter 7-6
2005 Phil Taylor def Mark Dudbridge 7-4
2006 Phil Taylor def Peter Manley 7-0
2007 Raymond van Barneveld def Phil Taylor 7-6
2008 John Part def Kirk Shepherd 7-2
2009 Phil Taylor def Raymond van Barneveld 7-1
2010 Phil Taylor def Simon Whitlock 7-3
2011 Adrian Lewis def Gary Anderson 7-5
2012 Adrian Lewis def Andy Hamilton 7-3
2013 Phil Taylor def Michael van Gerwen 7-4
2014 Michael van Gerwen def Peter Wright 7-4
2015 Gary Anderson def Phil Taylor 7-6
2016 Gary Anderson def Adrian Lewis 7-5
2017 Michael van Gerwen def Gary Anderson 7-3
2018 Rob Cross def Phil Taylor 7-2
2019 Michael van Gerwen def Michael Smith 7-3
2020 Peter Wright def Michael van Gerwen 7-3
2021 Gerwyn Price def Gary Anderson 7-3
2009 Raymond van Barneveld v Jelle Klaasen (Quarter-Finals)
2010 Raymond van Barneveld v Brendan Dolan (Second Round)
2011 Adrian Lewis v Gary Anderson (Final)
2013 Dean Winstanley v Vincent van der Voort (Second Round)
2013 Michael van Gerwen v James Wade (Semi-Finals)
2014 Terry Jenkins v Per Laursen (First Round)
2014 Kyle Anderson v Ian White (First Round)
2015 Adrian Lewis v Raymond van Barneveld (Third Round)
2016 Gary Anderson v Jelle Klaasen (Semi-Finals)
114.05 Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld, 2016/17 Semi-Finals
111.21 Phil Taylor v Shayne Burgess, 2001/02 Last 16
110.94 Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld, 2008/09 Final
109.34 Raymond van Barneveld v Michael van Gerwen, 2016/17 Semi-Finals
109.23 Michael van Gerwen v Darren Webster, 2015/16 Last 32------ENDS------
Lead Image: PDC/William Hill
Australia, Scotland and Northern Ireland among winning pairs.