It’s the most wonderful time of year.
Whether you’re sat in front of the open fire munching a mince pie and sipping sherry, or down at the Alexandra Palace raising a glass of the more masculine variety, nothing gets you into the Christmas spirit quite like the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship does.
MODUS are helping serve up a real festive treat with a whole host of PDC stars aiming to be top of the tree. James Wade, Simon Whitlock, Mark Webster, Raymond van Barneveld and Paul Nicholson have all been mentioned by punters and pundits alike as major title contenders.
Webster is in opening night action against fellow Welshman Richie Burnett in a clash of former World Champions. Spider hopes to build on the good form he takes into the tournament after reaching his first major PDC singles final at the Players Championship Finals last weekend. He bids to go one better than last year when he made the semi-final, but lost to eventual winner Adrian Lewis, who is also in first night action.
On Friday evening Dutchman Co Stompe will be delivering the Christmas cheer as the two-time quarter finalist takes on youngster Michael Smith.
Saturday sees the first double session of the tournament and former World Masters winner Robert Thornton faces Ian White in the afternoon. The Scotsman is currently in the top 32 in the order of merit in a year that included a good run to the quarter-finals of the UK Open.
On Saturday evening The Asset is in action against last years surprise package, Austrian Mensur Suljovic. Nicholson though, won’t be gifting anything to his opponent having being in Scrooge-like form in an excellent 2011 as he made the latter stages of most of the major tournaments with some electrifying performances along the way.
Preceding Nicholson is The Fastest Player in the World as Vincent van der Voort begins his campaign against Mark Hylton. The Dutchman will be hoping to repeat or better his performance last year when he made the quarter-finals.
On Sunday evening the most famous Dutch darter takes to the stage as Barney begins his shot at a sixth World Championship success. Van Barneveld has made the semi-finals of the Premier League and European Championship in 2011 as a return to the darts that made him champion of the world in 2007 have coincided with a return to form. He faces James Richardson who made his first Pro-Tour final earlier this year.
Monday December 19th provides a trio of Christmas crackers as The Machine, The King and The Monkey are all in first round action. Wade, the second most successful player in the history of the PDC, will be hoping to add the World Championship to his growing list of majors. His opponent is yet to be confirmed as he faces the winner of a preliminary round match.
Mervyn King, who prepared for the tournament by beating Phil Taylor last week, takes on Geoff Kime while Arran Monk, who won the under-21’s World Championship last year, faces Players Championship winner Kevin Painter.
On the final day of round one (Wednesday 21st) John Henderson makes his PDC World Championship debut against 2003 & 2008 winner John Part. Simon Whitlock completes the line up when he faces Dennis Smith. The Wizard is aiming to go one better than his run to the final two years ago.
So the stage is set for everyone to get merry and enjoy a feast of tungsten tossing from the world’s finest in the greatest show on earth. One of them will be seeing in the New Year as World Champion, but the aim for now is to progress through round one as we sit back and enjoy what is undoubtedly the most wonderful time of the year.
By Chris Murphy