PDC World Championship: Wayne Mardle runs the rule over darts’ big three and makes his predictions – Sky Sports

Wayne Mardle runs the rule over Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price ahead of this year’s tournament; watch the PDC World Championship live on Sky Sports from December 15

Last Updated: 15/12/20 8:09am

Take a look at some of the many reasons why we love the World Championship featuring darts players dancing, wasps on stage and some amusing mishaps.
Take a look at some of the many reasons why we love the World Championship featuring darts players dancing, wasps on stage and some amusing mishaps.

Wayne Mardle returns with his crystal ball to run the rule over the chances of the sport’s big three at this year’s World Championship, before assessing the chasing pack and this year’s two female participants.

Having used last week’s column to talk about how much fun these World Championships will be, it’s time to get serious for Hawaii 501 who’ll be part of the Sky Sports team setting up camp at Alexandra Palace for the next three weeks.

PDC World Darts Championship – Opening night matches

First Round Steve West v Amit Gilitwala
Steve Beaton v Diogo Portela
Jeff Smith v Keane Barry
Second Round Peter Wright v West/Gilitwala

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Phil Taylor is with us for the latest episode of the Darts Show podcast as Colin Lloyd leads the review of a busy month

Michael van Gerwen

Michael van Gerwen is bidding to lift a fourth World Championship crown over the coming weeks

Now he’s won the Players Championship, there’s that element of: ‘He’s back again’. There are too many games he’s dominating and they’re going to the last leg or the penultimate leg so he’s still got frailties there, but for him to close out an event in the last leg, mentally it will do him the world of good.

He must be coming into this event thinking: ‘I’ve won it three times before, normally it’s off the back of dominating the world of darts’. He’s coming into it in a different way and I think it may keep him more alert.

Taylor: MvG is vulnerable ahead of Worlds

Michael van Gerwen – Projected route to the final

Second Round Ryan Murray/Lourance Ilagan
Third Round Ricky Evans
Fourth Round Joe Cullen/Jonny Clayton
Quarter-Final Dave Chisnall/Dimitri Van den Bergh
Semi-Final Michael Smith/Rob Cross
Final Peter Wright/Gerwyn Price

There’s always that element that he knows he’s so far better than the rest, well he’s not now. That may keep him on the straight and narrow and keep him concentrated and if it does, he’s going to be a hard man to beat because he’s in a quarter that I think he’ll be really happy with.

The composure he had against Mervyn King was a step in the right direction. If he holds it together, I think he wins the whole thing, but this is an event with set-play, where pressure comes and goes more often than any other format.

You have got to be brilliant in the right moments and look how often he says that. ‘I did the right things at the right times’. If he does do the right things at the right times, I don’t see anyone matching him.

Peter Wright

The defending champion has been plagued by inconsistency over recent weeks

I can’t work his form out. Peter has been Mr Reliable since 2014. His B-game and A-game – there’s not really a lot in it and when he won the European Championship, he was just so far better than anyone else. He’s regressed since and to some tune.

He’s had some really poor performances. When you start changing back and forth in an event like he did at the Players Championships and then have one of the worst performances you’ve had in a while in the semi-finals, that’s a worry for him.

He cannot know what he is going to use and that cannot help confidence. One man in Michael van Gerwen has won the event, and the other man has left it scratching his head thinking: ‘What on earth am I doing?’

Peter Wright – Projected route to the final

Second Round Steve West/Amit Gilitwala
Third Round Gabriel Clemens
Fourth Round Krzysztof Ratajski/Simon Whitlock
Quarter-Final James Wade/Ian White
Semi-Final Gerwyn Price/Nathan Aspinall
Final Michael van Gerwen/Michael Smith

If he beats Steve West, he’ll likely play Gabriel Clemens and he can lose that. I look at the draw and it’s tough. Krzysztof Ratajski is yet to perform in any event like he does on the floor, so I’m waiting for him to go bang. Maybe this is it.

The reason I don’t think he wins or reaches the final is because James Wade is in his quarter. I think James this year has got something that the others haven’t – it might be consistency, composure under pressure, but Wade is playing some of the best darts we’ve seen from him in a long time.

Gerwyn Price

Gerwyn Price has scooped eight PDC titles this year, more than any other player

I think he has to be looking for a final spot. He won the Grand Prix at an absolute canter. He holds it together and he hasn’t had those lulls in tournaments and games that Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen to an extent have had.

He’s been probably the best player, but this is a different animal. When you’ve had your best year in terms of winning, to carry it on in the Worlds is really difficult, which is why I think Michael van Gerwen has failed so often.

Michael has won it three times, but he’s been the best player in the world since 2013. I think Gerwyn Price is going to struggle to be fair. I think he could quite easily reach the semi-finals, but I just don’t see him winning it this time. I think it might be too much.

Gerwyn Price – Projected route to the final

Second Round Luke Woodhouse/Jamie Lewis
Third Round Brendan Dolan
Fourth Round Jose de Sousa/Mervyn King
Quarter-Final Nathan Aspinall/Daryl Gurney
Semi-Final Peter Wright/James Wade
Final Michael van Gerwen/Michael Smith

He must be thinking: ‘I can win it’ and of course he can. I really believe with this whole lockdown thing – I don’t think he has enjoyed the darts. There are times I’m looking at him and you can tell that he wants to erupt, but it’s not the situation and atmosphere to erupt.

If he hits the ground running and the atmosphere at the Worlds is a lot better than we think it may be, I may change my mind pretty quickly, because if he feeds off it, and that adrenaline rush and buzz sees him through, of course he can win it.

The World Darts Championship is nearly here! It all starts on December 15th, live on Sky Sports.
The World Darts Championship is nearly here! It all starts on December 15th, live on Sky Sports.

Mardle’s World Championship predictions

Winner: Michael van Gerwen
Runner-Up: James Wade
Surprise Package: Vincent van der Voort or Keane Barry
Seeds to Struggle: Daryl Gurney & Dimitri Van den Bergh

Deta’s time and Ashton should be pleased

Ashton made her Ally Pally debut two years ago, losing out to Jan Dekker despite winning the opening set

Lisa will be absolutely over the moon with her draw. She is playing Adam Hunt, someone she has played and beaten before. Of course it’s going to be tough, but she has to be thinking this may be a good opportunity for me to do a Fallon!

The way Lisa plays at times – she’s had many 90+ averages on tour – the opening game against Adam Hunt shouldn’t worry her and neither really should Jamie Hughes, so she’ll be feeling pretty confident right now.

Lisa has played a lot of games now against the men [on TV] and she’s come up short. She needs to get it done and I think the game against Adam Hunt is a massive game for her. She gets close without crossing the line which is a worry.

Hedman will become the second oldest PDC World Championship debutant at the age of 61

Deta has probably won more events than the whole field put together. It’s absolutely ridiculous! I want her to go up there, relax and enjoy herself. We’re there to see her play well and if she can pull off a brilliant win, that would be great to see.

I believe she’ll find it really tough against Andy Boulton. He’s never going to set the board alight averaging 110 to 115, but what he will do is average mid to low 90’s and that will probably be good enough to see off Deta, but she will worry him.

Contrary to popular belief, Deta has got oodles of composure under pressure. Because she hasn’t won a World Championship, people think she hasn’t got it. Are you telling me James Wade hasn’t got composure under pressure?

The best of the rest

Smith is still searching for his elusive first major title, having reached the world final back in 2019

I quite like Michael Smith’s draw. I don’t think he will. It’s tough but I really believe if he can get past the first couple of rounds, I don’t think the latter few rounds to get through to the semi-finals will bother him.

He’s got Devon Petersen in the last 32 and probably Gary Anderson or Mensur Suljovic in the last 16. In my opinion, I think it could get easier for him.

I don’t see Rob Cross, Jamie Hughes, Glen Durrant or Adrian Lewis being a danger to him. I don’t think they can match him for scoring. He’s going to get so many darts at double that I think he wins against any of those.

Wade is up to seventh in the world after making back-to-back finals at the European Championship and Grand Slam

James Wade must love his draw. The only players that beat Wade at the moment seem to be the consistent types. He lost in the final of the European Championship to the consistent Wright, he lost in the Grand Slam to the consistent Jose de Sousa.

I don’t see a consistent type in his section apart from Ian White, and Ian White underwhelms too often. I really like James Wade’s play at the moment.

I think the set-play format is good for him, because there are big moments every three, four or five legs, and the holding of throw is going to be key to whoever wins this event. Van Gerwen, Price, Wade, Smith and Wright – they hold probably better than anyone else.

You won’t miss a dart this Christmas thanks to the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel which returns from December 15 until January 4 for every session from the World Darts Championship, including the final on Sunday January 3