It’s the tournament that every darts player wants to have on their CV’s. It’s the mountain that every player wants to conquer. It’s the race that every player wants to win. It’s the crown jewel that every player wants to have in their trophy cabinets. Yes! It’s the PDC World Darts Championship.
The event returns to the Alexandra Palace for the 13th consecutive time since it took over from the Circus Tavern in 2008. It’s a venue that certainly lives up to its billing. Wonderful darts, cheerleaders, packed crowds, football chants and an atmosphere that’s the most beautiful in the world of darts. When it clicks, it’s a fantastic thing to watch. Plus there’s nothing to watch on the tele at Xmas so this certainly puts your worries to bed (if you have Sky Sports that is).
Ok moving on! The draw for the 2020 PDC World Darts Championship took place yesterday. 96 players have booked their places over the last few months, featuring players from all over the world. So, what did the draw conjure up with?
The defending champion Michael van Gerwen has had a pretty mixed 2019. The Dutchman had shown signs of a slump this year, mainly in the summer, but it can still be called as a successful one, winning the Masters, Premier League, World Grand Prix, Champions League, World Series Finals and recently the Players Championship. He also won four Euro Tours, three World Series events and two PC events, so he hasn’t done bad! He certainly will be a huge favourite to win his fourth world title. The world number one will face either former world champion Jelle Klaasen or former Tom Kirby champion Kevin Burness.
Ricky Evans has had a few highs in 2019. He reached the final in PC 6 and the German Darts Championship, where he lost to Gerwyn Price and Daryl Gurney respectively. However on the TV it hasn’t been good, only reaching the quarters in the European Championship, so a good run on TV is desperately needed for Ricky! The man from Kettering will face either 2018 BDO runner up Mark McGeeney (who’s had a tough time on his debut season at the PDC) or Canada’s Matt Campbell.
Pontyberem’s Jonny Clayton did win a PC event this year but he hasn’t really threatened much on TV in 2019, reaching the fifth round in the UK Open and the quarter finals in the World Series Finals, but he has however kept his top 16 place. The Welshman will face either Newcastle’s Ryan Joyce or Dutchman Jan Dekker.
Stephen Bunting thought about packing the arrows away a couple of years ago but the Scouser has shown signs that he’s getting back to his best in 2019, reaching the quarter finals in the Masters, World Matchplay and the Players Championship Finals. So can he do better in 2020? The former world champion will face either Andover’s Arron Monk (the son of Colin Monk) or Spain’s Jose Justicia.
James Wade has had a phenomenal year in 2019. The Machine has returned to the form that we all know of him! Wonderful finishing and winning matches no matter what the average is. Wade has been an absolute beast on the floor, winning 5 PC events, but on the TV he hasn’t been as vintage, reaching the final in the Masters and in ranking events the quarter finals at the Matchplay, so it hasn’t been as successful as it hoped. The Machine will face either Enfield’s Ritchie Edhouse or Russia’s Boris Koltsov.
At the age of 55 Steve Beaton is still hanging on in the top 32, currently ranked 25th but the Adonis has had a very quiet 2019 in terms of form and performance, just reaching the quarter finals in just the UK Open, but hopefully Steve has many more years left in his long career. He’s also a Coventry City fan which is one of two teams that our founder Henry Cheal supports (the other being Cardiff City). The former world champion will face either Australia’s Kyle Anderson (who’s struggling with diabetes) or China’s 21 year old Xiaochen Zong.
Ian White has been a bit of a different animal in 2019. On the floor and the stream, he’s been brilliant, winning two Euro Tours and reaching the final in three PC events, but losing them all. However on TV that form hasn’t been reproduced, losing in the early stages of many tournaments. However he did reach the quarter finals in the World Grand Prix and recently he finally broke his quarter final curse in Minehead, reaching the semi finals in the Players Championship Finals where he lost to Van Gerwen in a close affair. So the form on TV has come at the right time. The Diamond will face either Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas or EdgarTV’s Matthew Edgar.
Despite being the German number one Max Hopp hasn’t had much of a 2019 to saviour, with his best ranking performance being the UK Open, reaching the fifth round. He did however reach the final in PC16 where he lost to Harry Ward. The German youngster will face either fellow countryman Gabriel Clemens (who was runner in the 2019 German Masters) or Tilburg’s Benito van de Pas.
2019 has not been Gary Anderson’s favourite year. Back trouble has hindered him, leading him to withdraw from the Masters and the Premier League. His form has been rusty, losing in the early stages of many tournaments this year, a horrific performance in Amsterdam (averaging just 71) and a disastrous defence of his Champions League title. However his only postives are the quarter finals of the Grand Slam and becoming World Cup champions alongside Peter Wright in June. Anderson will have to up his game a lot if he’s going to win a third world title and he begins his campaign against two time PC winner this year Brendan Dolan or India’s Nitin Kumar.
Not much can be said on Steve West’s 2019 as he has failed to qualify for many of the big tournaments but his only high came in the UK Open, reaching the fifth round He does however keep himself in the top 32 and the man from Epping in Essex will play either Somersets Ryan Searle or Australia’s Robbie King, who qualified for the Melbourne Darts Masters in the summer (winter over there).
Nathan Aspinall has been very impressive in 2019. The youngster from Stockport, Greater Manchester has had the year of his life, winning the UK Open in March, taking out the biggest fish of all and then on his World Series debut, played some of the best darts of his career to win the US Darts Masters, beating Michael Smith in one of the matches of the year. He also reached a few finals on the Pro Tour and reached the quarter finals of the World Grand Prix, proving that his semi final run here 12 months ago was no flash in the pan. The Asp will face either Stoke-On-Trent’s Andy Boulton or the reigning North American Darts champion Danny Baggish.
Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski has been another player that has risen to the plate in 2019. The Pole hasn’t been much of threat on TV, reaching the quarters in the World Series Finals, but off the TV he has been brilliant, winning two PC events this year and then scored his finest PDC moment, winning the final Euro Tour event of the season in Gibraltar. His doubles are his achilles heel, so he will rectify on that if he’s going to be a top player. Ratajski will face either reigning Czech Open champion Jamie Hughes or Austrian Zoran Lerchbacher.
Michael Smith reached the biggest high of his career 12 months ago in reaching the World Championship Final. But still a TV title has eluded him, losing the World Matchplay final to Rob Cross. He reached three semi finals on the TV this year (UK Open, Champions League and the European Championship) and two quarter finals (Masters and Grand Slam). He had a dismal Premier League finishing 7th but that’s been one of a few lows this season. He also reached the US Darts Masters final where he lost to Nathan Aspinall in a classic. Bully Boy as they call him will face either Luke Woodhouse (who knocked out Daryl Gurney in Minehead last weekend) or 65 year old veteran Paul Lim.
2019 has not been a good year for young Belgian Dimitri Van den Bergh. The young talent has exited in the early stages of many tournaments but his only great moment on TV came in the UK Open where he departed in the 6th round. Van den Bergh did reach the final in two PC events this year, losing to Glen Durrant and Krzysztof Ratajski. Dimitri will face either Gravesend’s Josh Payne or Brazil’s Diogo Portela.
Adrian Lewis had a poor 2018 where injury affected him but in 2019 there were some signs that he was getting to his best. His TV form hasn’t been brilliant but his major successes were at the Grand Slam, reaching the quarters and PC 8 in Wigan where he won his only title of the year. There’s still a long way to go for Lewis and he faces either Spain’s Cristo Reyes or Philippines’ Lourence Ilagan.
Darren Webster has been kept quiet this year just like many players but his best performance was reaching the fourth round at the UK Open. But at the age of 51 Darren is still in the top 32 and the man from Norwich will face either Ipswich’s left hander Ryan Meikle (who reached the last 16 in Minehead last week) or Japan’s Yuki Yamada. It would be a bit of an East Anglian derby if Meikle and Webster would meet, due to Ryan being an Ipswich Town fan and Darren being a Norwich City fan.
Rob Cross had a magicial run here two years ago, winning the title on his debut! 2018 was a year to forget but 2019 has been a much better one with the weight being lift off his shoulders. He removed the one hit wonder tag swifty, winning the World Matchplay and then the European Championship. He also reached the final in the UK Open and the Premier League, losing to Nathan Aspinall and Michael van Gerwen. He also reached two Euro Tour finals but lost in both to Van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price. With a lot of money needing to be defended Cross has plenty to lose and he faces either Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts or Dutchman Geert Nentjes.
Danny Noppert finally made a breakthrough in the top 32 but despite not having some great results this year he made it into his first PDC final in the World Series Finals at Amsterdam, losing heavily to Michael van Gerwen. However that’s a taste of what a good player he is and he will face either Irishman Steve Lennon (who reached the World Cup final this year) or Geordie youngster Callan Rydz, who topped the Challenge Tour order of merit this year.
Bradford’s Joe Cullen has had a fair 2019, however his TV form hasn’t been sharp, reaching the quarter finals in just the Masters. Despite that he did reach the final in PC20 where he lost to Peter Wright but he then went one better on the Euro Tour this year, winning the European Darts Matchplay beating Michael van Gerwen in the final. That shows that he has got potential and he faces either Huddersfield’s James Wilson or young German Nico Kurz (who is two days older than me).
Jermaine Wattimena has certainly made inroads in 2019, reaching near the top 16 in the world. Jermaine has had a few good runs in tournaments reaching the 6th round at the UK Open and then reaching the quarter finals of the World Grand Prix, his best TV run to date. He also reached the final in PC22 where he lost to Brendan Dolan. He’s a good player alright and he will face either the recent world youth champion Luke Humphries or South Africa’s Devon Petersen.
2019 has been a mixed year for Peter Wright. Despite reaching the semi finals in the Masters he had a dreadful Premier League campaign finishing 8th! He then bowed out early at the UK Open and many people thought he was finished. But the Scot proved them wrong, winning the World Cup and the German Masters. He also won three PC events including a 123.4 average, the highest in a broadcast match. He also reached a final on the Euro Tour, losing to Ian White and then choked in Leicester against Van Gerwen, blowing three darts in an 11-10 defeat. However his form has dipped slightly near the end, losing in the first round in the European Championship and Players Championship Finals. However he did reach the Grand Slam final though, losing to Gerwyn Price. Snakebite will face either Austria’s Rowby-John Rodriguez or Philippines’ Noel Malicdem.
Keegan Brown has not made an impression on the TV in 2019 with his best performance coming in the UK Open, where he lost in the fifth round. However there has been a few postives for the man from Durham, he reached a semi final on the Euro Tour this year, losing to Ricky Evans. He’s also beaten Michael van Gerwen a couple of times too on the Euro Tour and has reached the top 32 for the first time in his career. Brown will face either Northern Irishman Mickey Mansell or the comical Japanese player Seigo Asada.
Despite a few slumps Dave Chisnall has had a superb year indeed. He reached the semi finals in the Masters and scored victory in two PC events along with a Euro Tour victory in Denmark. Chisnall’s form seemed to dip midyear but a contract from Harrows has put him back to his potential, reaching the final of the World Grand Prix and the Gibraltar Darts Trophy, losing to Van Gerwen and Ratajski. He also reached a couple of quarter finals at the European Championship and the Grand Slam. A TV title still eludes Dave but they way he has been playing of late you certainly fancy him for a good run here! Chizzy will face either fast throwing Dutchman Vincent Van der Voort or the Irish Matchplay champion Keane Barry, who is a great talent.
2019 has not been the finest year for young Dutchman Jeffrey de Zwaan with his furthest run coming in the European Championship where he reached the quarter finals. But the young lad did win silverware in Barnsley, winning PC14, so that shows a glimpse of his talent. De Zwaan will face either Raymond van Barneveld (who will retire after this event) or American Darin Young. A tough one for Jeffrey!
Daryl Gurney has had a pretty inconsistent year in 2019. First of all we begin with the good. He’s had two victories on the tour this year, first the German Darts Championship, beating Ricky Evans in the final and then winning PC 25 with victory over Nathan Aspinall. He finished runner up in PC7 and also the Melbourne Masters. He also made semi final appearences at the Premier League, World Matchplay and European Championship. Now the bad. He suffered first round exits in the Masters, Grand Prix and the Players Championship Finals last weekend. He has blown many matches this year from winning positions, something that must be addressed quickly. Superchin will face either Taunton’s Justin Pipe or Slovenia’s Benjamin Pratnemer.
It’s been an awesome PDC debut year for Middlesbrough’s Glen Durrant. Many people thought that he wasn’t cut out for it. WRONG! The Smoggie first impressed when he reached the final of PC2, losing to Dave Chisnall. Two events later he won PC4 and the rest was history! He later won another PC event in May, crushing Darius Labanauskas 8-1! Durrant then reached the semi finals of the Matchplay, losing to Michael Smith. He then reached the semis in the Grand Prix and Grand Slam, losing to Dave Chisnall and Peter Wright. Durrant had also beaten Van Gerwen twice this year, the later 13-11 at the Matchplay! In his debut year he’s ranked 27th, an awesome effort!! Glen will face either the talented Portugese Jose de Sousa (who also won two PC events this year) or Australian Damon Heta (who famously won the Brisbane Masters in August on his 32nd birthday). A tough one for Glen.
2019 has not been a fine one for Mensur Suljovic but again there were some postives to take! Mensur reached two quarter finals on the TV this year (Masters and World Cup) and also a semi final (World Series Finals). But there has also been some silverware, winning the Austrian Darts Championship on his home turf, beating Van Gerwen in the final. He also won PC26, beating Ian White despite the Stokie hitting a perfect leg. So there has been good for Mensur in 2019 and he will face either Warwick’s Ted Evetts or Milton Keynes’ Fallon Sherrock, who qualified for the event through the UK/Ireland womens qualifier.
Bedlington’s Chris Dobey has certainly won a lot of fans in 2019. He has reached two semi finals this year, first the Grand Prix and the Players Championship Finals, losing to Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price. However the youngsters finest run to date was his run to the final in Denmark, where he lost in the final to Dave Chisnall. Nonetheless he’s shown that can play some cracking darts and he will face either Dutch left hander Ron Meulenkamp or Kiwi Ben Robb, known as Big Rig.
Gerwyn Price may not be everyone’s cup of tea but his 2019 has been one of the best year’s of his career. His year didn’t start well with his controversial fine in last year’s Grand Slam but over the past few months he’s showing us why he’s a force to be reckoned with. Gerwyn had a superb year on the Pro Tour, reaching five PC event finals and winning four. He also retained his International Darts Open title on the Euro Tour, beating Rob Cross in the final. His record on the TV earlier on was not good, reaching just the semis at the UK Open, where he lost to Nathan Aspinall. Despite 5th place in the Premier League he suffered first round defeats in the Masters, World Cup, Matchplay and the Grand Prix. However since then his TV form has risen to the top, reaching the semi finals in the Champions League and then reached the final in the European Championship, losing to Rob Cross. But Gerwyn then successfully defended his Grand Slam title, beating Peter Wright in one of the finest performances of his career. He nearly made it two in a week at Minehead but agonisingly lost to Van Gerwen in the final. Despite to hostile reception of the crowd it looks like they’ve accepted him as a fan favourite, and he is certainly a huge favourite for this crown. It would be incredible, especially for a man who’s had a career in two sports. Price will face either Irish World Cup winner William O’Connor or Finland’s Marko Kantele.
Scotland’s John Henderson may not classify 2019 as being a good year with his best run being the last 16 at the Players Championship Finals. However his draw against MVG in the Premier League was certainly a night to remember, especially with it being played in Aberdeen, the city where he was born. Henderson will face either James Richardson (who famously knocked out Barney in the first round in 2012) or the reigning women’s world champion Mikuru Suzuki.
Despite turning the big 50 this year Simon Whitlock has had a very poor 2019 which has been littered with disappointing displays, failing to get past the quarter finals in every TV ranking event. However the only postives are reaching the semi finals on the World Series in Brisbane and reaching the final of the German Darts Grand Prix in Munich. The Wizard will face either PC 16 winner Harry Ward or Latvia’s Madars Razma.
Despite suffering from a painful sciatic nerve Mervyn King has had a pretty decent year on the TV. The King has reached the fifth round of the UK Open and has reached the quarter finals in the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and the Players Championship finals. He has beaten a few big names in those tournaments such as Michael van Gerwen (UK Open), Gary Anderson (World Matchplay), James Wade (World Grand Prix), Dave Chisnall and Rob Cross (both Players Championship Finals). So King has proved that he still can compete at 53 and he faces either Dover’s Ross Smith (who famously knocked out Van Gerwen in the first round of the European Championship) or 20 year old Irishman Ciaran Teehan.
So that’s the draw folks and the tournament will commence from the 12th December 2019 – 1st January 2020. It looks like being one of the best World Championships ever with the standard and the quality of the players. Let’s hope they are not wrong.