The PDC’s annual darts festival is only a few days away, yet I cannot find the clarity of mind to select those who will win, go close or cause a shock or two on the way. The reason for this is the anyone but MVG factor.
It must be recognised that this is completely unfair on Micheal, he is a good guy who has conquered an incredibly difficult couple of years to rise and sit atop the darting world. But I cannot warm to him as a multiple winner. The gurning, the OTT jumping about and the almost Teutonic interviews leave me completely cold.
In addition darts does not need another era of single player dominance. The last fifteen to twenty years have belonged to “The Power”, the PDC does not need a like for like replacement.
The fans attitude to Martin Adams, during this years Grand Slam, at Wolverhampton should give us a clue. Their disgraceful efforts to prevent MVG winning the title should also provide food for thought. Darts needs characters, rivalries and fresh blood. Mere excellence is not enough.
So, bearing this in mind, who can prevent my worst nightmare and claim the World Professional Darts Championship this year.
The Reigning Champion. Gary Anderson.
Without Gary’s popular win the era of MVG would look unstoppable. Yet, Anderson demonstrated that his phenomenal talent, combined with a, carefully fostered, laissez faire attitude, could be a match for anyone. The capturing of the Premier League Title ensured that MVG has not had it all his own way in the last year.
It is very tough to defend a world title with only Taylor and Adrian Lewis having managed this it the PDC.
The Harlequin – Peter Wright
The title could of course be The Jester or The Fool. But forget the costumes and the daft dad dancing, Peter can play darts. The antics are all part of ensuring that he can simply play and ensure his own relaxed personality is deployed to good effect. His previous visit to a world final, combined with getting to the later stages of almost every major in recent times, could mean he is ready to stop knocking and just walk in!
The Comeback Kid – Mark Webster
It is superb to see Mark getting back toward the level he deserves to play at. His return to work and regaining of form and perspective is to be admired by any darts fan. Webby was always a very strong end of year player, many of his best performances have come in the autumn and winter events. The sheer consistency and determination of Webby at his best can wobble anyone. His efforts in 2010 & 2011 show what he is capable of here.
The event may have come a little soon for Mark, to expect him to go all the way may be a bit too much. However look for some superb performances and who knows……
The Rough Diamond – Ian White
Getting less rough with every passing season. Ian has superb talent, a relentless work ethic and a rare capacity to learn. His match versus MVG at the Matchplay, where he led 6-1, and against Anderson at the Grand Prix, show that he has again advanced and could be ready to take a giant leap.
The downside is that after a few years of superb success, without really gaining the credit he deserved, Ian is finally being regarded as a contender and being touted for The Premier League. This seems to have weighed on him a little in the last couple of months. Once he learns to accept this The Diamond will advance again.
The Young Gun – Keegan Brown
Although by no means the only young pretender in this year’s line up, Brown is the only one who has already seen the later stages of major events and who seems to grow on the big stage.
Reaching the Qtr Finals of last years Grand Slam and then grafting through a tough spell or two this years have provided Keegan with an insight into both the daily graft and the big moments of PDC darts. He may well be coming to terms with doing both consistently.
The clash with Peter Wright could be a very tough first rounder for Keegan but it may prove a good proving ground for this and future events.
The Team Effort – Adrian Lewis & Co.
Jackpot’s two world titles came in 2011 & 12 whilst he was working closely with former world champ Keith Deller. This partnership is again in full effect, with the recent major final proving its lost nothing. Team Lewis also involves a settled family life and long time partner in crime Craig Sharples. This outfit knows how to prepare and execute at the worlds. Could a hat-trick be on the cards?
His last Bow? – Phil Taylor.
I cant shake the feeling that the man is not finished yet. The new speeded up, throw and flippant manner, seem to me to be a tactic being worked on to aid a push for another world title. Two week events are very rare and thus every scrap of energy that can be saved in earlier rounds, both physical and mental could be priceless. With Phil getting older I suspect this is a deliberate and clever attempt to, once again, adapt to the circumstances and produce what is needed to win. I shall not fall into the trap that a number of folk have jumped headlong into in the past. I don’t believe its all over yet for the Stoke legend.
So there we have it, not just anyone but MVG, but a handful of differing players and approaches that really could prevent my worst nightmare!