PDC World Championship 2018
It wouldn’t be Christmas without the PDC World Championships which has grown to become arguably the most important sporting event of the festive season. This year has seen a huge overhaul of the competition which will lead to 96 competitors descending on London’s Alexandra Palace this December.
Rob Cross is our reigning champion while Michael Van Gerwen takes up his customary position as favourite but who will walk away with the trophy on New Year’s Day?
Dates and Format
The action begins this year on December 13 and, following suitable breaks on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, the darts will resume until our new champion is crowned on January 1st 2019. Of the 96 throwers taking part, 32 will automatically go through via the PDC Order of Merit and they will be joined by 32 qualifiers from the Pro Tour.
The schedule is completed by 32 International Qualifiers and that final list will include at least two women players. It’s a brave new world for the PDC Championships but there is a very familiar face at the top of the betting markets.
Two-time PDC World Champion Michael Van Gerwen is the clear favourite to win a third title but for once, he starts as an odds-against option. MVG is as short as Even Money in some places but you can currently find the Dutchman at a best of 13/10 with Unibet and 888Sport.
Van Gerwen has three trophies in PDC Premier Events this year and he began 2018 with victory in the Premier League. World Grand Prix and Masters titles have followed but he hasn’t dominated the scene as he has done previously and there is plenty of competition from the chasing pack.
The Flying Scotsman, Gary Anderson, is second favourite in the early World Championship markets and currently on offer at a top price of 5/1 with BetFred and Royal Panda. Anderson has also won this event on two previous occasions and is usually the biggest threat to Michael Van Gerwen at the top of the markets.
In 2018, he’s missed a number of tournaments on a busy circuit but has still taken out three PDC Premier titles - the Champions League, The World Matchplay and the UK Open.
Behind Anderson is fellow Scot Peter Wright who is available at a best of 11/1 with 10Bet and Sport Pesa. Snakebite’s best performance in the PDC World’s came with a runner up slot in 2014 and while it’s been barren year in terms of Premier event wins, Wright did pick up the Melbourne Masters and, after a slow start to 2018, has been running into better form of late.
Former electrician Rob ‘Voltage’ Cross produced a real shock in winning the PDC World Championship last season but he’s yet to really replicate that form across the darting year. Cross will therefore start his title defence as fourth favourite at 16/1 with Black Type.
Behind the defending champion the market really starts to move out with Michael Smith available at best odds of 28/1 with 188Bet and Royal Panda while Mensur Suljovic is available at that same top price of 28/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral.
Moving through the pack, James Wade has shown a remarkable return to form and the left hander is available at a best of 33/1 with MarathonBet and BetFred and then we start to hit the outside bunch. Former World Champion Adrian Lewis is on offer at best odds of 50/1 with Ladbrokes and SportingBet while Raymond Van Barneveld has won no fewer than five World Titles but he lags behind at a top price of 66/1 with Ladbrokes and Coral.
We’ve seen some upsets on the PDC circuit this year including tournament wins for Gerwyn Price and a maiden victory for Ian ‘Diamond’ White. Rob Cross’ win 12 months ago was unexpected but this is a tournament where all the big names are present and the lower ranked throwers rarely succeed.
But could we see any value this year, even if we play it safer and take an Each Way bet? We’ve mentioned Gerwyn Price and while the Ice Man is as short as 50/1 in places, he is out at a top price of 125/1 with William Hill and 10Bet. Ian White is further back at best odds of 150/1 with Unibet and 888Sport while Simon Whitlock might attract some interest at 100/1 with Boylesports and 888Sport.
Those three players have all shown some form in weaker fields but with all of the big names in that hat, we’re not expecting to look beyond the list of ‘usual suspects’.
We’ve mentioned the theory that ‘class will tell’ as we’ve worked through this preview and there are a number of reasons for that. While there have been some Premier Events in the lead up to the big tournament, players are preparing mentally and physically for the World Championships. This is their focus and a time to be on their ‘A’ game.
The longer format of this tournament also leads to fewer shocks in the lead up to the final. They can happen and we can generally lose one of the higher seeds in the earlier rounds but these upsets remain rare.
So, while this isn’t an original tip, we are coming back to Michael Van Gerwen. With Phil Taylor having retired, we’ve taken out one world class challenge to the Dutchman and any loss that didn’t involve a defeat to Gary Anderson would be considered as a shock.
He’s not unbeatable but he’s the best darter here by a long way and at 13/10, he offers relative value compared to the odds on price that is usually attached to him.
MVG for the win is the tip while elsewhere, Mensur Suljovic is arguably the most consistent player across 2018 and he also offers value as an Each Way punt at that 28/1 price.
Best Bets for PDC World Championships 2018:
- Michael Van Gerwen to win at 13/10 with Unibet
- Mensur Suljovic Each Way at 28/1 with Ladbrokes