PDC World Darts Championship 2019/20 Preview

The PDC World Darts Championship will return for its traditional end-of-year slot in the sporting calendar and all the marquee names will be raring to go.

2019/20 WDC – The basics

The next edition of the tournament will take place between 13 December 2019 and 1 January 2020 at the Alexandra Palace in London. It can be watched on Sky Sports, or via the SkyGo mobile app, but users without Sky television that have NOW TV can buy passes for a day, week or month as desired (ranging from £9.99 to £33.99).

How popular is the event?

Back in 2015, all records were broken with over 4m viewers tuning in, and over 50,000 darts fans attending the event in the flesh. Those numbers have been at least maintained since, and future expansion is inevitable, along with the growth of viewing figures.

Aside from the star quality of the players involved, the event’s popularity also stems from the high stakes involved. The 2019/20 edition will offer a total prize pot of £2.5m, with the winner scooping 20% (£500k) of the total prize. The runner up receives £200k, while losing semi-finalists receive half that amount and losing quarter-finalists receive £50k. The minimum guaranteed prize is £7,500.

The Main Contenders

Those that familiarise themselves with World Dart Championship spread betting basics can see that Michael Van Gerwen is the runaway favourite, after yet another impressive year of high value three-dart finishes. He won the last edition of the tournament, making it three WDC titles across his entire career, and has maintained a success rate of over 10% in his three-dart finishes since then.

In the last WDC tournament, Van Gerwen was dominant all the way through, and put in a particularly majestic semi-final performance against Gary Anderson – who is himself third-favourite to win the upcoming edition. The Dutchman triumphed 6-1 on that occasion, and then beat Michael Smith 7-3.

Only thirty this year, Van Gerwen has enjoyed a very illustrious 2019 so far. He followed up his WDC triumph with a fifth consecutive Masters title, after an accomplished 11-5 victory over James Wade in the final. He then followed up that achievement with two Players Championship wins, smashing Phil Taylor’s once-untouchable ProTour title record.

While Van Gerwen is a perpetual top-seed at any tournament these days, Rob Cross is a worthy second for the 2019/20 WDC. He last won the WDC as recently as January 2018, and has maintained an impressive accuracy rate of >99-point three-dart finishes this year to keep him firmly on Van Gerwen’s tail.

Anybody who can win the WDC less than a year after turning professional is always worth backing in a prestigious tournament. While not enjoying the same degree of success as Van Gerwen this year, Cross has shown great character in bouncing back, after starting 2019 with a chastening defeat to Nathan Aspinall at the UK Open final.

That was then followed up by an 11-5 defeat to Van Gerwen in the Premier League of Darts final, before winning the World Matchplay tournament, in turn becoming only the fourth player ever to with both the WDC and Matchplay titles in his career.

Dark Horses to Shine?

Completing the expected lineup of WDC semi-finalists are Gary Anderson and Michael Smith, seeded #3 and #4 respectively.

Now forty-eight, Anderson has been a professional since Rob Cross was in primary school, and his sheer experience – alongside his ice-cool nerve – is what keeps him at the top of the game. Though injury has blighted Anderson in 2019, remains a popular pick.

Meanwhile, the effects of Smith’s defeat to Van Gerwen at the last WDC tournament have yet to be accounted for. He enjoyed a strong run last year, despite being seeded only tenth prior to the 2018/19 WDC, firstly eliminating Ron Meulenkamp and John Henderson, before dispatching #29 seed Ryan Searle.

However, there is never a tournament that goes by without one player exceeding all expectations, and the presence of some rookies hoping to be the next Rob Cross always gets people talking. With confirmation as to the identities of such players yet to be fully determined, attention turns to lower confirmed seeds who have enjoyed a fulfilling 2019.

Standing prominently amongst them are Krzysztof Ratajski and Jermaine Wattimena, who marked the start of August by moving into the top-32 of the world rankings. The latter man is tipped to move into the top-16 by the end of 2019.

For Wattimena, anything other than an improvement on his best WDC showing (the Round of 32 in 2017/18 and 2018/19) would be a massive disappointment, and he is primed to build on what was only a narrow 4-3 defeat to Gary Anderson in the third round of the PDC World Championship earlier this year.