The World Darts Championships 2018/19 is getting ever closer (Alexandra Palace, London, Thursday Dec 13th 2018 to Tuesday Jan 1st 2019).
The £2.5 million tournament carries a winner’s prize of £500,000. The “biggest-ever event in darts” will this year be held over 28 sessions of play during the Christmas and New Year period, with 96 players from around the world doing battle for the coveted Sid Waddell Trophy.
There will be eleven days of play before Christmas (Dec 13th-23rd) which will feature the first and second-round games, with the third-round and fourth-round games being held from December 22nd-28th before the competition reaches the quarter-finals on Saturday December 29th, with the semi-finals on Sunday December 30 and then the final on Tuesday January 1st 2019.
Rob Cross will be the headline act on the opening night as he begins the defence of his title in the second-round match against either Jeffrey De Zwaan or Indian qualifier Nitin Kumar.
There's nothing quite like the World Championship… Rob Cross stunned the darting world in 2017/18 to win his maiden PDC title on the biggest stage of all. pic.twitter.com/8ZnAYUjzqd
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) December 2, 2018
World number one Michael van Gerwen will face Alan Tabern or Aussie qualifier Raymond Smith, while two-time champion Gary Anderson will play Paul Nicholson or Northern Irishman Kevin Burness.
Back-to-back World Champion Adrian Lewis faces Simon Stevenson or Ted Evetts.
Peter “Snakebite” Wright will meet either Spain’s Toni Alcinas or New Zealand’s Craig Ross, whilst having announced his retirement after next year’s World Championship Raymond van Barneveld will play Matthew Edgar or Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas.
There are two female players in this year’s tournament with UK & Ireland Women’s Qualifier Lisa Ashton facing Dutchman Jan Dekker with a second-round tie against seasoned campaigner Mervyn King, whilst Rest Of The World Women’s Qualifier Anastasia Dobromyslova is up-against Ryan Joyce with Australian superstar Simon Whitlock awaiting the winner.
Other eye-catching ties include James Wade taking-on the winner of Krzysztof Ratajski or Japan’s Seigo Asada, Dave Chisnall versus Josh Payne or Canada’s Jeff Smith, Jonny Clayton versus back-to-back World Youth Champion Dimitri van den Bergh or Chuck Puleo, Mensur Suljovic versus Ryan Searle or Stephen Burton, Michael Smith versus Ron Meulenkamp or Brazilian Diogo Portela, Ian White versus Wayne Jones or South African Devon Petersen and Darren Webster versus Vincent van der Voort or Lourence Ilagan.
The defending champion Rob Cross has not been showing the same level of form that he was coming into the tournament last year and, it will be a massive surprise to me if he is lifting the trophy for a second year running come January 1st. He also has a potentially very hard second-round tie against Jeffrey De Zwaan.
World Number One Michael van Gerwen has been playing well lately and is the outright favourite but although he has been making semi-finals and finals, he hasn’t been winning the high percentage of those matches like we are used to seeing from MVG. Taking the short-price will not be for me.
James Wade has really returned to form this year and has taken two of the last four TV tournaments, the European Championship and World Series Of Darts and will be a popular selection for many to go well in this tournament also.
Gary Anderson has been playing very well lately and he looks to be coming into form at exactly the right time as he bids for his third World Championship title. The long sets format of this tournament will also be to The Flying Scotsman’s advantage and he will be my main selection to lift the famous Sid Waddell Trophy once again.
My first each-way selection and second fancy for the win is Michael Smith who I think has been slowly getting better and better and could be bringing himself to the boil perfectly to turn-up at Ally Pally in top-form, somewhat under the radar and we all know that he can be almost unbeatable when he does hit his best form.
Finally, my other value selection is going to be Mensur Suljovic who has been playing very poorly in recent events which is very uncharacteristic for the normally consistent Austrian and he may also be preserving his best game for the big one. If this is so then he will be very hard to beat as he also really enjoys the long formats he will face if progressing to the latter rounds.
First/Second Round Matches and Predictions:
Thursday December 13 (7pm)
- Jeffrey De Zwaan v Nitin Kumar – Jeffrey De Zwaan
- Martin Schindler v Cody Harris – Martin Schindler
- Jan Dekker v Lisa Ashton – Lisa Ashton
- Rob Croos v De Zwaan/Kumar – Rob Cross
Friday December 14 (12:30pm, Afternoon Session)
- Michael Barnard v Jose De Sousa – Michael Barnard
- Alan Tabern v Raymond Smith – Raymond Smith
- Paul Nicholson v Kevin Burness – Paul Nicholson
- Jamie Lewis v Schindler/Harris – Jamie Lewis
Friday December 14 (7pm, Evening Session)
- Danny Noppert v Royden Lam – Danny Noppert
- Simon Stevenson v Ted Evetts – Simon Stevenson
- Chris Dobey v Boris Koltsov – Chris Dobey
- Gary Anderson v Nicholson/Burness – Gary Anderson
Saturday December 15 (12:30pm, Afternoon Session)
- Richard North v Robert Marijanovic – Richard North
- Mickey Mansell v Jim Long – Mickey Mansell
- Josh Payne v Jeff Smith – Josh Payne
- Max Hopp v Noppert/Lam – Max Hopp
Saturday December 15 (7pm, Evening Session)
- Toni Alcinas v Craig Ross – Toni Alcinas
- Ryan Searle v Stephen Burton – Ryan Searle
- Keegan Brown v Karel Sedlacek – Keegan Brown
- Michael van Gerwen v Tabern/Ray Smith – Michael van Gerwen
Sunday December 16 (12:30pm, Afternoon Session)
- Gabriel Clemens v Aden Kirk – Gabriel Clemens
- William O’Connor v Yordi Meeuwisse – William O’Connor
- Brendan Dolan v Yuanjun Liu – Brendan Dolan
- Dave Chisnall v Payne/J Smith – Dave Chisnall
Sunday December 16 (7pm, Evening Session)
- Luke Humphries v Adam Hunt – Adam Hunt
- Matthew Edgar v Darius Labanauskas – Darius Labanauskas
- Ross Smith v Paul Lim – Ross Smith
- Peter Wright v Alcinas/Ross – Peter Wright
Monday December 17 (7pm)
- Vincent van der Voort v Lourence Ilagan – Vincent van der Voort
- Wayne Jones v Devon Petersen – Devon Petersen
- Ryan Joyce v Anastasia Dobromyslova – Ryan Joyce
- Raymond van Barneveld v Edgar/Labanauskas – Raymond van Barneveld
Tuesday December 18 (12:30pm, Afternoon Session)
- Robert Thornton v Daniel Larsson – Robert Thornton
- Ricky Evans v Rowby-John Rodriguez – Ricky Evans
- Krzysztof Ratajski v Seigo Asada – Krzysztof Ratajski
- Darren Webster v Van der Voort/Ilagan – Darren Webster
Tuesday December 18 (7pm, Evening Session)
- Steve Lennon v James Bailey – Steve Lennon
- Ron Meulenkamp v Diogo Portela – Ron Meulenkamp
- Dimitri van den Bergh v Chuck Puleo – Dimitri van den Bergh
- Daryl Gurney v Ross Smith/Lim – Daryl Gurney
Wednesday December 19 (12:30pm, Afternoon Session)
- Nathan Aspinall v Geert Nentjes – Nathan Aspinall
- Jeffrey de Graaf v Noel Malicdem – Jeffrey de Graaf
- Joe Cullen v Dolan/Liu – Joe Cullen
- Kim Huybrechts v Thornton/Larsson – Kim Huybrechts
Wednesday December 19 (7pm, Evening Session)
- James Wilson v O’Connor/Meuwisse – James Wilson
- Simon Whitlock v Joyce/Dobromyslova – Simon Whitlock
- Michael Smith v Meulenkamp/Portela – Michael Smith
- James Wade v Ratajski/Asada – James Wade
Thursday December 20 (12:30pm, Afternoon Session)
- Jermaine Wattimena v Barnard/De Sousa – Jermaine Wattimena
- Alan Norris v Lennon/Bailey – Steve Lennon
- Stephen Bunting v Humphries/Hunt – Stephen Bunting
- Steve Beaton v Dobey/Koltsov – Chris Dobey
Thursday December 20 (7pm, Evening Session)
- Cristo Reyes v Evans/Rodriguez – Cristo Reyes
- Mervyn King v Dekker/Ashton – Mervyn King
- Adrian Lewis v Stevenson/Evetts – Adrian Lewis
- Mensur Suljovic v Searle/Burton – Mensur Suljovic
Friday December 21 (12:30pm, Afternoon Session)
- Benito van de Pas v Mansell/Long – Benito van de Pas
- John Henderson v Clemens/Kirk – John Henderson
- Steve West v North/Marijanovic – Steve West
- Kyle Anderson v De Graaf/Malicdem – Kyle Anderson
Friday December 21 (7pm, Evening Session)
- Ian White v Jones/Petersen – Ian White
- Jelle Klaasen v Brown/Sedlacek – Jelle Klaasen
- Gerwyn Price v Aspinall/Nentjes – Gerwyn Price
- Jonny Clayton v Van den Bergh/Puleo – Jonny Clayton