Reigning World Darts Champion Michael Van Gerwen could start his 2020 world title challenge against fellow Dutch rival Jelle Klaasen on opening night.
The tournament at The Alexander Palace gets underway on Friday, December 13 when Van Gerwen will begin his quest for a fourth World Championship. He will either face Klaasen or Kevin Burness who play each other in round one.
Using the same format as last year, all top 32 players in the PDC Order of Merit will automatically be placed in round two while the qualifiers for the event battle in the opening round. For the second year running, two female players will play in the championships.
Gerwyn Price has climbed the rankings through the 2019 season and will be listed as the third seed for this tournament having successfully defended his Grand Slam of Darts trophy earlier this month. The Welshman will avoid playing his nemesis van Gerwen unless both players are still in the competition on New Year’s Day. He will face either William O’ Connor or Marko Kantele in the second round.
Elsewhere, 2018 world champion Rob Cross could face Kim Huybrechts while Raymond van Barneveld kicks-off his final PDC event against Darin Young. If the five-time world champion wins, he will set up an all-Dutch affair with Jeffrey de Zwaan in Round 2.
Routes to the final
Unsurprisingly, van Gerwen, Price and Cross are popular favourites among the range of bookies opening bets for this year’s Christmas extravaganza.
Van Gerwen has been his usual self by pushing records and scooping up 14 trophies in 12 months. Price has had a surge in form and pushed Van Gerwen aside by beating him for the first time ever in his Grand Slam retention. Cross tasted success for the first time since lifting the Sid Waddell trophy by winning the World Matchplay in July.
As always, they’ll be many shocks on the Ally Pally stage and this video details the danger matches for the three big challengers.
Leading the way
PDC will once again become flag bearers for women’s sport as two female players compete on the world’s biggest stage for the second year running. Fallon Sherrock and Mikuru Suzuki both won their respective qualifying events and will enter the first round.
England’s Sherrock will face Ted Evetts for the right to play World Number 11 Mensur Suljovic in the second round. If Sherrock plays her best game and averages in the high 90’s, she’ll fancy her chances in round one.
Meanwhile, the Ladies World Champion will come up against crowd favourite James Richardson in her debut match. Richardson will be the comfortable favourite for this match though could be put under pressure if Suzuki finds her 180 hitting form she demonstrated in the Grand Slam.
Matt’s must-watch games
- Raymond van Barneveld v Darin Young – Barney should win, but we know what he’s like when he becomes emotional…this could be bye-bye Barney. Let’s enjoy his talents while we can.
- Luke Humphries v Devon Peterson – Dancing Devon is a crowd-pleaser, but he’ll have to do some work to celebrate here. An in-form Humphries is relentless. This will be entertaining.