What to expect from the 2023 PDC World Championships

What to expect from the 2023 PDC World Championships
Peter Wright is the reigning champion after he beat Michael Smith in January's final
Peter Wright is the reigning champion after he beat Michael Smith in January's final
The World Darts Championship is once again upon us. From December 15 to January 3, the 30th edition of the PDC World Darts Championship will take place at the Alexandra Palace in London. Reigning champion Peter Wright will hunt for his third title at 'Ally Pally', 95 other players hope to knock the Scot off his throne.

Of the past 29 editions of the traditional climax to the darts season, English legend Phil Taylor (62) won no less than 14 of them. 'The Power' quit the sport after the 2018 championship and seems to have said goodbye to the tournament for good.

Scottish contenders Peter Wright (52) and Gary Anderson (51) will hunt for their third final victory next month, as many as Dutchman Michael van Gerwen (33).

Adrian Lewis (37) also won the prestigious tournament twice, the Englishman winning in 2011 and 2012. Raymond van Barneveld (55), Rob Cross (32) and Gerwyn Price (37) won one each. Absent Canadian John Part (56) and retired Englishman Dennis Priestley (72) won the other editions.

Last year's edition

The previous edition ended in disaster for Englishman Dave Chisnall (42), Van Gerwen and Vincent van der Voort (46). After they all tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, they were eliminated from the tournament.

In the end, Wright was too strong for Michael Smith in the final even if the Englishman threw a record number of 180s in a World Cup match (24). He shares that record with Wright, who also threw 24 in his semi-final match against Anderson before going onto win in the tournament.

Wright won the final 7-5 with an average of 98.34 against Smith's 99.22. It was not the only record Smith broke that championship, as he threw a maximum 83 times throughout the tournament.

The old guard

Englishman Steve Beaton (58) is on the eve of his 32nd World Cup. Beaton won the 1996 BDO World Championship by beating Welshman Richie Burnett (55). Burnett is also back at it after an eight-year absence.

The former BDO world champion was suspended for 18 months in 2015 after using banned substances.

Another elder statesman with BDO titles is Van Barneveld and he is also in contention as world number 32, making his comeback in 2021 before being knocked out in the second round on Christmas Eve by another former world champion, Cross.

More women than ever

Among the 96 participants are three women, a record in the PDC World Championships.

Since 2019, there have invariably been two women competing - this year that number has been expanded to three, after the PDC announced last month that in addition to Lisa Ashton (52) and Beau Greaves (18) as number one and two of the Women's Series, Fallon Sherrock (28), the winner of the Women's World Matchplay, will also take part.

Sherrock is so far the only woman ever to win a World Cup match, in the 2020 edition she beat Ted Evetts (25) and Mensur Suljovic (50) to be eliminated in the third round by Chris Dobey (32).

Van Gerwen the favourite?

The big favourite for this year's edition is Van Gerwen. After failing to win a single televised tournament in 2021, the Brabander has found his top form again in 2022.

The 2014, 2017 and 2019 world champion won the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and Players Championship Finals in addition to the Premier League this year.

On top of that, World number one Price is having a turbulent year behind the oche. Although the Welshman won the World Series, he did not win any other major television tournaments.

Reigning world champion Wright has also had a difficult season after his victory in last year's competition. He has not made it past the quarter-finals at any major tournaments.

Last year's losing finalist Smith has been on the upturn after a good year. Bully Boy reached the final of the UK Open and the European Championship and also won his first major. Smith won the Grand Slam of Darts by convincingly defeating compatriot Nathan Aspinall (31) in the final (16-5), his first major triumph having lost eight finals in a row before then.

Josh Rock (21) could well be the surprise of the tournament. Although the Northern Irishman is number 47 in the world, he has made quite an impression in recent months. For instance, at the Grand Slam of Darts, in a 10-8 loss to Van Gerwen, he threw a nine-darter.

He also won the final of the PDC World Youth Championship with an average of 104.13 by beating Nathan Girvan (20) 6-1.

On Thursday night at 20:00 CET, the World Championship starts with the match between Mickey Mansell (49) of Northern Ireland and Ben Robb (34) of New Zealand. The winner of that match will play Wright in the final match of the evening.

Follow the tournament with Flashscore.