It’s coming up to the end of the year, which can only mean one thing as far as darts fans are concerned – the World Darts Championship is back! Alexandra Palace once again opens its doors for three weeks of action, and last year’s winner Peter Wright will be looking to defend his title. The latest darts World Championship odds are actually in favour of 2020’s runner-up and three-time winner Michael van Gerwen. But here’s all the major talking points ahead of the Championship.
The fans are back!
The atmosphere at the darts is unlike any other sport, so it’s good news that while we’re still in COVID-territory, spectators will be allowed at Ally Pally. While there are usually up to 3,000 fans per session, this has been strictly limited to 1,000, to ensure social distancing measures are adhered to.
There are a number of other changes and restrictions too. The first one being fancy dress, which is banned this year. But organisers have said that Christmas jumpers will be permitted. The PDC have also imposed a ban of football-style singing and chanting, but fans are still able to encourage their favourite players during the session.
Fans from locations in tiers one and two can book a table of four for one household or support bubble, but people from tier three areas cannot attend. And tickets are only available to English natives – so there will be no Dutch, German or Belgian fans in attendance.
New session times and no tie-breaks!
Another difference is that the session times will start earlier. The afternoon sessions will commence at 12:00, which is half an hour earlier than usual, while the evening sessions have been brought forward by an hour, and will begin at 18:00. The earlier start in the evening will allow for a controlled exit. Obviously, this will also mean less time between the afternoon and evening sessions, but it’s important that fans entering and exiting the building are staggered – while the changeover time will be slightly reduced.
With time being of the essence, tie-breaks have been scrapped for this year – but will return for the subsequent Championships. Sets will last for a maximum of five legs, to ensure they do not overrun. Previously, a player had to win by two clear legs before it went to sudden death, but this year, it will automatically go to the latter.
Added pressure with number 1 at stake!
As things stand, van Gerwen is the number one seed at the Championships, but last year’s winner Wright leads the way in terms of the Order of Merit. If the Dutchman wants to regain that top spot, he will need to regain his world title from two years ago.
But three players will be battling it out for that number 1 ranking – with Gerwyn Price also thrown into the mix. He’s the third seed at the WDC, and was beaten in the semi-finals last year by the eventual winner. Because the rankings are taken over a period of two years, he is at a massive advantage, having been knocked out of the 2019 edition of the Championships in the second round. It’s a similar story for Wright too – while he was last year’s champion, he too only made it as far as round two in 2019.
And record title holder, Phil Taylor believes that van Gerwen is particularly vulnerable especially with the travelling involved. He said: “It’s just pressure. I know what he’s under and I know what I would do to cure it but I’m not telling him. This is a real test for him.
“He’s a young fella with two children and a wife at home who hardly every sees him so the pressures will be there.”
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