The spirit of the late and much-missed Sid Waddell will still be very much in evidence at the Ladbrokes PDC World Darts Championship, which gets under way on Dec 17. This is the first year that the tournament will staged without the legendary commentator bringing his own unique view on proceedings at the Alexandra Palace, the voice of darts and Sky Sports commentator sadly passed away in August. But his name will live on with The Sid Waddell Trophy being handed out to the new world champion.
It recognises his contribution to darts for more than 30 years and Phil Taylor, one of his closest friends in the sport, is determined to regain the world title in his honour. It’s three years since ‘The Power’ last lifted the world crown and some have even had the audacity to suggest that Taylor’s powers are on the wane. That is rather ignoring the fact that he’s still won three major titles in 2012 but undoubtedly the gap is closing and, with bookmakers never giving anything away in the former champion’s case, you don’t get much in the way of value at the general 2/1.
Like Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld has had his critics in recent years but ‘Barney’ stormed back to win the Grand Slam Of Darts and is still a real handful when he starts hitting those trebles. Seeded 13 this year, the veteran Dutchman could give supporters a run for their money at the general 18/1 but it’s compatriot Michael van Gerwen who has been grabbing most of the headlines. ‘Mighty Mike’ is still the youngest player to win a televised tournament – he was just 17 when winning the Winmau Masters in 2006 – but 2012 has been his breakthrough year. He beat Taylor in the final of last month’s Players Championship and again in the Grand Slam Of Darts, only to lose out to van Barneveld. If nerves don’t get the better of him, the 5/1 with sportingbet, Blue Square and 888sport could be outstanding value at Ally Pally.
Of course, Adrian Lewis can’t be ignored. He’s won this twice and did this column a favour last year. ‘Jackpot’ is 12/1 with most layers and it’s really about time James Wade was reaching a PDC World Championship final. Semi-finalist twice in the last four years, he hasn’t managed a major win this year but did run Taylor close in the World Matchplay Final and is 20/1 to win at Alexandra Palace this year with the majority of bookmakers and 10/1 to reach the final with bwin.