The first World Champion of 2021 will be crowned on January 3rd. As ever, the PDC World Darts Championship gets underway before Christmas in order to crown a Champion early in 2021. Defending Champion Peter “Snakebite” Wright plays last on the first day on 15th December and he starts as the number 2 seed, in the bottom half of the draw.
The top half of the draw is headed by World Number 1, Michael “The Green Machine” van Gerwen. The bald genius has been off colour in the last few months but he’s always determined at the World Championship and he’ll be looking to add to his titles from 2014, 2017 and 2019. A 4th title would reduce the gap on Phil “The Power” Taylor to 10 league titles.
In preview of the tournament, we’ve taken a look at the top 4 seeds, plus a further 4 players to watch in the tournament.
Michael van Gerwen
A 3 time winner, World Number 1 Michael van Gerwen is a man you never want to ignore. He has been off form more recently but his place at the top of the rankings isn’t under serious threat and he can still trot out an amazing performance in the blink of an eye.
He has started to develop a rivalry with Gerwyn “Iceman” Price, who currently rents a lot of mental space in MVG’s head rent free. Those two can’t meet until the final and, with all respect to Peter Wright, that would be the dream final for the fans lucky enough to attend in person (who knows what the rules will be in January!).
Snakebite is the reigning World Champion. He has persevered over a long career with ups and downs along the way. He’s stepped out of the darkness in the last 5 years to elevate his game to a whole new level and his decision to become a more outlandish character was clearly a part of that rebranding exercise.
He has become the most recognisable player on the tour and there wasn’t a fan in the world who didn’t enjoy seeing him lift the trophy in January 2020. He has the hunger and the desire to win another World title and become just the 4th man to win back to back titles, something van Gerwen hasn’t been able to achieve.
On course for a Semi-Final showdown with Peter Wright, The Iceman is a man on form. He’s a man to fear in the tournament, he’s strongest in the legs format of matches.
The former professional Rugby player has been on fire throughout 2020, winning the World Grand Prix for the first time in his career. He’s not a player that anyone will want to face, in part because he’s a very aggressive character on the oche and is never too far from a moment or two of controversy.
At just 30 years old, Bully Boy has youth on his side and a record high ranking carrying him into the World Championship. There is a lack of experience issue with Smith and he missed 3 match darts in the final of the 2020 Masters against Peter Wright. Will there be a hangover going into the tournament?
He’s in MVG’s half of the draw so they would meet in the Semi-Final, assuming they both get that far. Smith also has 2 time World Champion and 13th seed Gary “The Flying Scotsman” Anderson in his quarter of the draw, along with the dangerous Mensur “The Gentle” Suljovic and two more former World Championship winners Rob “Voltage” Cross and Adrian “Jackpot” Lewis.
He also has to contend with Glen “Duzza” Durrant who has been in fine form throughout 2020. A Bully Boy world title would be incredible and although I’m reluctant to say he won’t win it, he won’t be winning it this year.
The first of the “4 to watch” is Nathan “The Asp” Aspinall. He’s a heavy scorer when he’s on form and he’s in a section of the draw which would allow him to progress, realistically to the Quarter Final, where he would likely play either Price or Jose “The Special One” de Sousa (winner of the Grand Slam of Darts in 2020).
He would fancy himself to get past either of those gents and match his Semi-Final appearances in 2019 and 2020. He’s got a favourable draw and his walk on music is the classic, “Mr Brightside” by The Killers. Who doesn’t enjoy that one?!
Dimitri Van den Bergh
“The DreamMaker” is a two time World Youth Championship winner (2017 and 2018), although he is yet to get past the Quarter Finals at the main event. He’s an entertaining player with a good looking draw – his biggest challenge looks to be waiting in the Quarter Final, where he’d play MVG (barring some kind of Green Machine catastrophe).
He kicks off with either the veteran Paul Lim or Luke Humphries, a jobbing player with a good pedigree but not enough to trouble the dancing Belgian.
José de Sousa
“The Special One” is a man on the move. He’s had a solid 2020 but stepped up in a huge way to win the Grand Slam with a demolition job on James “The Machine” Wade.
He has an air of confidence about him which could carry him to glory. He’s worth a mention despite his nightmarish draw. He’ll play the winner of Ross “Smudger” Smith and David “Stretch” Evans.
No disrespect to those boys, but with unimaginative nicknames like those and absolutely no name recognition at all – I’m going to say they’re playing for the honour of losing to Jose. The issues aren’t in Round 2 (the first round featuring the top 32 seeds), but they’re waiting from Round 3 onwards.
Presumably, the route to glory for The Special One is Mervyn “The King” King, Gerwyn Price and then Nathan Aspinall before Peter Wright in the Semi-Final. It would be an impressive victory, but one to watch for sure.
The unseeded “Heavy Metal” will compete in the first round against American chancer Danny “nicknameless” Lauby Junior. Once he’s past the American, the 33 year old will take on generic Dutchman Jeffrey “The Black Cobra” De Zwaan.
No disrespect to everyone’s least favourite Dutch player, but he won’t be stopping Heavy Metal who looks the least likely darts player on the tour. Searle only narrowly missed out on being seeded for the draw and he could come out of nowhere to put together a Rob Cross style rampage through the tournament. He won’t, but if he does – you heard it here first!