And then there were eight…
After 13 days of unmissable tungsten tension, the PDC World Championships roll into 2022 with some of the finest arrowsmiths looking to make history.
We’ve had a fortnight of thrills and spills from inside the Alexandra Palace with seeds tumbling, last leg shootouts and unexpected rookies going deep in the draw – who will get the last laugh on Monday by lifting high the Sid Waddell Trophy?
We’ve got the quarter-finals to look at first, as four matches light up New Year’s Day.
It’s hard to look outside the two favourites – and first and second seeds – for this season’s title.
Boring, perhaps, but Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright have been two of the most consistent players on tour over the last 18 months.
The “Iceman” and “Snakebite” have scooped the previous two editions and despite a couple of scares en route to the quarters, their experience on the big stage should prove priceless.
They both averaged in the high 90s in pretty straight-forward fourth-round wins and at opposite ends of the draw a meeting in the final would probably be justified considering their relentless form.
Apologies, Gary. Apologies, James, but we just can’t get excited for the title challenges of Anderson and Wade.
The “Flying Scotsman” is chuntering along as per usual playing some fantastic darts mixed in with some mediocre finishing, and the longer the Scotsman continues his blasé attitude towards winning a third world title, it’s hard to take his chances seriously.
Anderson has scraped through two 4-3 wins in his last two outings – albeit against fine players – but at 13/2 it’s easy to see why he’s been priced so long.
Wade’s hunger can’t be questioned, but having only played two matches so far at the tournament – due to a BYE received against Vincent van der Voort – we’re not sure he’s quite in the groove.
His tournament average is a lowly 89 and the “Machine” is still yet to throw a 180 in the competition (explained by his preference to come down to the 19s).
‘Pretenders’ is slightly harsh considering the careers of both Anderson and Wade, but we’d be shocked to see either man scoop this year’s title.
Form is power at the PDC Darts World Championships, and you don’t have to look much further than unseeded Callan Rydz to see a man in form.
The 23-year-old has dropped just one set so far in four scintillating performances, gliding into a quarter-final appearance against former champion Peter Wright.
Rydz is oozing in confidence and his power scoring is enough to frighten anyone at the oche – we’ve seen career-changing breakout seasons from the likes of Rob Cross and Nathan Aspinall over the past four years, and who’s to say that “The Riot” Rydz isn’t the next to add his name to that list.
Michael Smith would frown at being called an underdog, but “Bully Boy” is still yet to win a major televised title.
The 31-year-old has dropped down the rankings in 2021 but has matured on the oche and looks a more complete player – his scoring has never been a problem, but the St. Helens man now looks a lot more assured and controlled on his doubling.
He owns the top average of the tournament so far from round two (106.32) and showed his bottle in beating one of the favourites Jonny Clayton in a marathon fourth round tie.
It would be impossible to begrudge Michael Smith his debut crown, but he’ll have to walk through Gerwyn Price first…