World Darts Championship: Wayne Mardle casts his verdict on this year’s contenders including Michael van Gerwen and Fallon Sherrock | Darts News


Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright begins his defence of the Sid Waddell Trophy with Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price, Michael Smith and others all in the frame to win it; Watch the 2023 PDC World Darts Championship – live on Sky Sports – from December 15

Last Updated: 02/12/22 6:32pm

Mystic Wayne Mardle returns to cast his verdict on this year's World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace

Mystic Wayne Mardle returns to cast his verdict on this year’s World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace

We’re all set for a thrilling Christmas and New Year at the PDC World Darts Championship, and as Peter Wright prepares to begin the defence of his title, our very own Wayne Mardle casts his verdict ahead of this year’s festivities at Alexandra Palace.

Reigning champion Wright will be bidding to lift his third Sid Waddell Trophy, but he faces stiff opposition from world No 1 Gerwyn Price, three-time champion Michael van Gerwen and two-time runner-up Michael Smith.

There’s also the return of legendary five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld and ‘Queen of the Palace’ Fallon Sherrock looking to create further history.

With this year’s showpiece shaping up to be one of the greatest in recent memory, there are so many talking points as we make the annual pilgrimage to the Palace, so who better to dissect the rollercoaster of tungsten action ahead of us than Mystic Mardle himself.

Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship

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Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship

Watch every nine-darter hit at the PDC World Championship

“He’s got that swagger back!”

Wayne Mardle on MVG

Favourite MVG has that aura of invincibility about him again

Michael van Gerwen beat Gerwyn Price in a World Matchplay classic earlier this year. He completed victory with this stunning 121 checkout

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Michael van Gerwen beat Gerwyn Price in a World Matchplay classic earlier this year. He completed victory with this stunning 121 checkout

Michael van Gerwen beat Gerwyn Price in a World Matchplay classic earlier this year. He completed victory with this stunning 121 checkout

Look at the year he’s had. Winning the Premier League, winning the Matchplay and winning the Grand Prix and he’s kept it going. He recently won the Players Championship in Minehead and I just feel the longer format of the Worlds just suits his game. There’s loads of them who have a chance, but I just feel that Van Gerwen is the most reliable.

He’s playing the best darts in the world right now and I really think he can bag number four at Alexandra Palace.

I’m backing him to win the Worlds after the way he performed at the Matchplay in Blackpool. He wasn’t playing brilliantly but he found a way to win and he beat the main man in the final – Gerwyn Price. He was better than anyone at the Grand Prix and he was better than anyone at the Players Championship.

I like the way he is talking because he’s saying ‘I’m the best’ and ‘this is not about them, it’s all about me’. He’s got that swagger back!

He’s really concentrating on getting the job done and when he’s like that he’s a very, very hard player to beat. If he can do that in every game at the Worlds then he’s going to be difficult to beat. People are going to have to take their chances against him and with it being sets you’ve got to win those big legs.

Wayne Mardle and Mark Webster believe that Michael van Gerwen will be favourite for the World Darts Championship

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Wayne Mardle and Mark Webster believe that Michael van Gerwen will be favourite for the World Darts Championship

Wayne Mardle and Mark Webster believe that Michael van Gerwen will be favourite for the World Darts Championship

MVG’s rivals are not just Wright, Price and Smith

I’m including a lot of them in the mix this year because there’s no such thing as easier draws anymore. The Rob Cross and Gary Anderson section at the bottom half of the draw is interesting because one of these players can make it as far as the quarter-finals where they could face Van Gerwen.

I don’t see why Cross or Anderson can’t fight it out with MVG for a place in the semi-finals.

I also think Jonny Clayton will be happy with his section of the draw and so will Nathan Aspinall, but Peter Wright is the one for me. He could play Dimitri Van den Bergh to get through to the quarter-finals which will be a tough game but one that he can easily win.

The must-watch first-round matches are?

Young Josh Rock stunned Michael van Gerwen with a nine-darter at the Grand Slam of Darts

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Young Josh Rock stunned Michael van Gerwen with a nine-darter at the Grand Slam of Darts

Young Josh Rock stunned Michael van Gerwen with a nine-darter at the Grand Slam of Darts

Adam Gawlas against Richie Burnett could be full of drama because the pair of them are absolute lunatics on the oche, while the winner of Ricky Evans’ clash against Fallon Sherrock will play Joe Cullen and the one I think which may go under the radar is Andrew Gilding’s match with Robert Owen with the winner to play Dave Chisnall.

There’s also Josh Rock against Jose Justicia with the winner to play Callan Rydz and whoever comes through that – and I think we are expecting Rock – can go far.

But you’ve also got Scott Williams taking on Ryan Joyce and Matt Campbell up against Danny Baggish.

It’s not about making the Christmas dinner taste better

Will Peter 'Snakebite' Wright be celebrating with the Sid Waddell Trophy once again?

Will Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright be celebrating with the Sid Waddell Trophy once again?

It tastes good anyway, but you don’t feel you’re in the World Championship until after Christmas because the field is decimated.

If you play early like Peter Wright, he will play and if he wins then he will watch so many players lose, so by the time he’s back the field will more or less be halved. It’s what you want to see because you come back and think ‘now we’re in it’.

And this year’s dark horse is?

Devon Petersen believes Raymond van Barneveld can return to his best after the Dutchman's impressive display at the Grand Slam of Darts

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Devon Petersen believes Raymond van Barneveld can return to his best after the Dutchman’s impressive display at the Grand Slam of Darts

Devon Petersen believes Raymond van Barneveld can return to his best after the Dutchman’s impressive display at the Grand Slam of Darts

This would be a story but should Raymond van Barneveld come through against Ryan Meikle or Lisa Ashton then he could face Gerwyn Price, but why should he fear him?

If he were to upset him, then he would take the No 1 seed’s place in the draw.

There’s no question mark over whether Van Barneveld can beat Price. He has beaten him over the shorter format and he beaten him over the long format and Price knows that.

Barney, Chizzy and Dirk van Duijvenbode are all outsiders, but they all have a chance of going deep.

Van Barneveld landed this huge 157 checkout as the doyen of Dutch darts rolled back the years against world No 1 Price at the Grand Slam of Darts

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Van Barneveld landed this huge 157 checkout as the doyen of Dutch darts rolled back the years against world No 1 Price at the Grand Slam of Darts

Van Barneveld landed this huge 157 checkout as the doyen of Dutch darts rolled back the years against world No 1 Price at the Grand Slam of Darts

Trepidation about facing Greaves, Sherrock and Ashton?

Lisa Ashton, Beau Greaves and Fallon Sherrock will all be in action at Ally Pally

Lisa Ashton, Beau Greaves and Fallon Sherrock will all be in action at Ally Pally

There will be hype surrounding these ladies and rightfully so because they will receive a fair share of audience participation cheering for them.

Fallon Sherrock and Lisa Ashton know that Beau Greaves is the best player in the world and she is. Willie O’Connor knows that he has to be on his game and if he is then he’ll probably win, but he’s got to prove that up there.

Greaves is going to have all the support and I just hope she can relax up there because I’d hate to see her play the situation rather than just the game because if that’s the case then it’s a tough game to win.

Michael Smith says Fallon Sherrock will bring 'excitement' to the Worlds

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Michael Smith says Fallon Sherrock will bring ‘excitement’ to the Worlds

Michael Smith says Fallon Sherrock will bring ‘excitement’ to the Worlds

Sherrock has been given an opportunity having won the Women’s World Matchplay but there’s not any doubt that she’s not playing as well as she has done in the past when she beat Ted Evetts and Mensur Suljovic a few years back. She’s going to have to get back to those heights because she is playing somebody who is tried and tested in Ricky Evans.

Sherrock is very, very good at handling the pressure. She just needs to be able to perform.

Watch the 2023 PDC World Darts Championship – live on Sky Sports – from December 15 to January 3.





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