Column #JB36 The William Hill World Championship
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
The William Hill World Championship
Finally, it is nearly upon us. It’s Christmas time again but that is not the highlight of the winter for the thousands of darts fans heading to London in the coming weeks. Instead, it is the period that 50,000 fans have been looking forward to since the tickets were released over six months ago. That’s right, it is the William Hill World Championship. The best and most eagerly anticipated sporting event in the world and it is an absolute dream to announce that I will be there.
Going into the tournament, Michael Van Gerwen is the reigning champion and world number one but he is not favourite going into the event. This burden instead falls on Phil Taylor again after his World Grand Slam glory but I doubt it will affect him in the slightest! Despite the betting, Sky still chose to focus their pre tournament documentary on ‘Mighty Mike’ and it was excellent viewing for any darts fan. If I needed anything to get me in the mood for the action, then that was it! It was fascinating to see how Van Gerwen has risen to the top but lost his hair in the meantime! This programme showed how Van Gerwen only took up darts as he wasn’t good enough at football but it also highlighted the quality of present day darts with Van Gerwen stating he hit his first nine darter when he was 15 or 16. The fact he couldn’t remember exactly when shows how insignificant it is now as he has gone on to hit four more live on television. Towards the end of the programme, Van Gerwen explained that confidence is the key to his success as he knows that he can beat any other player on the big stage. He said ‘on current form I think I am the best” so will anybody be able to stop him?
As darts continues to grow, so does the World Championship and again this year’s tournament will be bigger than ever before. This years prize fund has increased to £1,250,000 which is an unbelievable £1,186,000 more than the prize fund of £64,000 at the first ever PDC World Championship in 1994. In addition, with the majority of the 50,000 tickets sold for the event, I wouldn’t argue with Barry Hearn that “this event is the hottest ticket in British sport right now!”
Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a ticket for the main event, there is still no excuse for missing the action! This year, the World Championship will receive better TV exposure than ever before. Not only has Sky Sports reflected the popularity of darts by dedicating a whole channel to the tournament but the channel will also screen exclusive programmes focusing on the sport’s top names, as well as showing some classic games from the PDC’s history. If that wasn’t good enough, the drama will also be aired worldwide with the PDC’s international broadcast partners. Plus, fans with a LIVEPDC.TV International Pass subscription can watch live coverage of every game, with highlights of all matches available for all LIVEPDC.TV subscribers.
So, this year’s event kicks off on Thursday night with a potential shock in store as former World Champion John Part takes on the Grand Slam’s surprise package in Keegan Brown. Michael Van Gerwen also kicks off the defence of his title on the opening night where he takes on youngster Joe Cullen. The first round games will then entertain us up until the Christmas break and I’m sure there will be a few shocks in store.
I think this year’s tournament is possibly the most wide open tournament we have ever had with numerous names capable of reaching the latter stages. However, if I was a betting man, I would probably put my money on the in form Gary Anderson. Since I told you to watch out for him on the 7th of September, he has gone from strength to strength and I honestly think he is capable of winning the prestigious Sid Waddell trophy. Next time I write for you, this wonderful tournament may be over for another year so the last thing I want to say is good luck, savour the moment and enjoy the action!