Paul Nicholson chucked the first dart of the 2011 Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship – who will throw the last? DartsMad’s Ally Pally Blog will bring you news & views from the greatest darting show on earth as 72 players from 21 countries battle it out for the top prize in darts. The only sure thing is that there can be only one. Scroll to the bottom for the latest tournament stats.

FINAL PREVIEW - Adrian Lewis (6/4) v Gary Anderson (8/15)

There are some unique elements to the 2011 Ladbrokes World Championship final that will be played on Monday evening. Firstly, it’s in 3D for the first time ever. Secondly, there is no Phil Taylor. This has happened only once in its history – the 2008 damp squib between John Part & Kirk Shepherd.

The final will be contested by the two best players on show this last fortnight. This does not always happen (see Kirk Shepherd again) and both are right on top of their game. This makes it a difficult one to call following years of Phil Taylor being heavy odds on. Even the classic final with Barney in 2007 saw the Dutchman go in a big underdog. A look back at previous finals show there have only really been three classics – John Part’s win over Taylor in 2003, Taylor beating Kevin Painter a year later, and the Barney triumph in 2007. Dennis Priestley’s 3 defeats to Taylor had some drama but weren’t bona fide classics. The 2011 final could be.

Gary Anderson is favourite with the bookies but Lewis leads the head to head 6-2. He has won the last 6 including 4 victories in 2010 in the Championship League Darts tournament. He also won their last tv battle at the 2009 World Grand Prix.

Form stats show Anderson has the edge. He has hit 8 more tournament 180s (48) than Lewis and leads the tournament average (103.79 plays 96.94) having hit 100+ in every round. Lewis has had 8 sets taken off him, Anderson 5. Anderson has won 28 legs against the throw, Lewis 30.

In his post quarter final interview Anderson said he wanted to win the title by beating Phil Taylor in the final – “to be the best and win the world championship you’ve got to beat the best”. Well on current form The Power is not the best and Lewis presents the most difficult hurdle there is. If Anderson wins he will have beaten the best.

You would struggle to put a fag paper between them despite the bookies’ odds. If Lewis can stay focused for 13 sets it’s a toss up for the title. A rare final without The Power but ‘Part v Shepherd 2008′ this most certainly will not be.

Before those two take to the stage there is the not insignificant matter of the PDC Under 21 World Championship. The final will be played on stage live on Sky Sports before the big one and son of Colin, Arron Monk, will be looking to cap a fine 2010 that has seen him make his mark on the tour. He is up against Michael van Gerwen who reminds us of just how old he is by his eligibility for this event. Mighty Mike is being written off in some quarters as having already peaked! His move to the PDC has not brought too much success but he has plenty of time in hand and winning this inaugural prestigious title will be just the spur as he matures into a senior pro.

QUARTER & SEMI FINALS
The two men most likely are still Adrian Lewis & Gary Anderson and that is despite Mark Webster’s 5-2 beating of Phil Taylor in the quarter finals. Webster dominated the match and bullied Taylor into submission. It is becoming more apparent by the tournament that Taylor’s power is waning and we could be seeing the beginning of the end of one of the most extraordinary eras of any sport.

Gary Anderson does not have a great deal of time on his side and Monday’s final provides his best chance to finally realise his awesome potential. He trounced Raymond van Barneveld 5-1 in the quarter final and then did a similar job (6-2) on Terry Jenkins in the semis. He has averaged over 100 EVERY round so far and hit 48 maximums. Ten more will give him the tournament record set by Simon Whitlock last year.

Lewis does have time on his side; he has always looked a world champion in waiting but failed to deliver when it mattered. As one Potter slides another does rise and it seems that only Jackpot has the game to beat Anderson this week. He overcame a stubborn Mark Webster 6-4 in their semi final but still suffered periods of catatonic darts, something he cannot afford against the relentless Scotsman in the final. He was brutal against Vincent van der Voort in the quarter final, not giving the Dutchman an inch and rolling out 5-2 winner.

Terry Jenkins is the perennial bridesmaid and another who does not have time on his side. Once again he reached the latter stages of a tv tournament and came up against a player who was simply better on the day. No disgrace when that player is a Gary Anderson in the form of his life. Jenkins was perhaps fortunate to be in the semis having rode his luck against a Wes Newton with severe double trouble in the quarters. Jenkins narrowly won 5-4 before going down 6-2 to Anderson.

It seems that Barney’s relaxed persona this week might have been a false dawn as he succumbed to Anderson with little more than a whimper. He will drop to around 5th in the PDC Order of Merit and will need a wildcard to make the 2011 Premier League. The top 4 plus 4 wildcards will complete the field and with Anderson & Lewis sure to be at 2 and 3 the final decision will be interesting.

LAST 16
Things are really brewing now and the quarter final line up has an exciting look to it. The last 16 had it’s fair share of drama with Simon Whitlock the biggest casualty and Gary Anderson topping every stat chart there is. Gary Anderson has finally found his feet and will win it. Won’t he?

Peter Wright promised a new “hair do” for his last 16 encounter with Phil Taylor and the result was something akin to Predator crossed with Alice in Wonderland; he looked like a demented skipping rope salesman and it had little effect on the game. Perhaps Taylor’s dodgy eyesight meant he didn’t notice as he completed a routine win to set up a quarter final clash with Mark Webster. Webster had little trouble against Mark Hylton as he cruised to another impressive win.

Adrian Lewis was red hot in his 4-1 drubbing of Robert Thornton; 9 maximums and a 101 average sets him up for a mouthwatering game against Vincent van der Voort who was equally impressive in dumping out much fancied Simon Whitlock.

Van der Voort’s victory should have been the spur for Raymond van Barneveld to come out blazing but Barney admitted later in his post match interview that it had the opposite effect. He got so tied up in the match that he forgot to practice and it showed as he was sluggish for much of his tussle with Colin Osborne before eventually turning on the after burners and reeling off 6 of the last 7 legs to win 4-3.

A note about VvdV: Barney was visibly delighted for his compatriot and mate; it brought to mind a meeting I had with Vincent at the Circus Tavern Players Championship finals in 2010. Midway through our chat he was acosted by a couple of back stage drunkards who quickly became four and proceeded to bombard him with slurred inane questions for what must have been a couple of hours. They were harmless but just would not leave and I was struck by how patient & good natured Vincent was. He genuinely seemed to enjoy the chat when I’ve witnessed many pros be downright rude and simply walk away to the sanctuary of the practise area. From that incident I developed a soft spot for somebody who is a genuinely nice guy and I’m glad he is finally getting some real reward since switching to the PDC.

Barney has now drawn the short straw as he faces a battle royale with the hottest player in the tournament, Gary Anderson. The Sctosman recorded his third 100+ average (108.4 to follow 103.4 and 103.3) and one of the highest in world championship history in demolishing Andy Smith.

The remaining quarter final tie will see Terry Jenkins play Wes Newton. Jenkins came up against a flat Mark Walsh and made light work of a 4-0 win. Newton easily overcame Wade’s conqueror, Mensur Suljovic, by the same 4-0 scoreline as the Austrian finally ran out of puff.

QUARTER FINAL PREVIEW & HEAD 2 HEADS

Phil Taylor (tournament odds 5/6) v Mark Webster (16/1)

Webster is playing really well again following up his third place finish last year; well enough to beat The Power as he did in the IDL in 2007 (his one win to 6 defeats); well enough go two places better than 2010. But you just can’t bet against a 15-time champion. He has gone out to evens for the tournament based on the form of others and it might be a steal. The signs have been there in the last two rounds that he’s dragging himself back to top form. Fortunate for his path to be cleared of John Part & Paul Nicholson it has given him breathing space and that could be ominous. I expect Webby to put up stubborn resistance but Taylor to produce when it really matters and set up a semi final against his former protege, Adrian Lewis. Match odds: Taylor 1/7 | Webster 9/2.

Adrian Lewis (8/1) v Vincent van der Voort (40/1)

The only sure thing about this match is it won’t threaten the broadcasting schedules. Both throw quickly & score heavily and this week their finishing is spot on. They know each others game well having played 21 times before, Lewis leads 14-6 with a solitary draw. Jackpot appears to have got himself focused better than ever and has experience of this stage. Vincent is on his best world championship run and is on the charge. This will be a proper slobberknocker and the relentless onslaught from the Dutchman might just pay dividends and have Lewis buckling. However, I like what I see from the Stoke boy this year and I reckon he will sneak through in a classic. Match odds: Lewis 1/4 | van der Voort 11/4.

Wes Newton (40/1) v Terry Jenkins (18/1)

Jenkins has a habit of tip toeing through to the latter stages of major tournaments (7 major final defeats on his CV) but this equals his best world championship run. Newton is in uncharted territory in this tournament having now gone one better than his previous best. The head to head shows an 8-6 advantage to Jenkins but Newton has won 6 of the last 7; all coming in the last 18 months. Newton is throwing the best darts of his career and Jenkins has been given an easy(ish) ride so far with Steve Brown & Mark Walsh failing to turn up. I think Newton will sneak this one and reward his decision to turn pro with an Ally Pally semi final. Match odds: Newton 17/10 | Jenkins 4/9.

Raymond van Barneveld (13/2) v Gary Anderson (4/1)

Barney joked that perhaps the only way to stop Anderson is to break his arms. That might be the only way if the Flying Scotsman keeps improving each game, however we all know how fragile Anderson can be under pressure – break his confidence not his arms, that’s the answer. Dennis Priestley was one dart away from doing just that and Barney is possibly the worst possible draw for Anderson. The head to head shows a 6-2 advantage for Barney but Anderson has won the last two, both in the last year or so. Barney cannot start as he did against Colin Osborne or he will be blown away before he gets going. I’d love to see a Taylor v Anderson final (that is Anderson’s dream) and will go with my heart in saying Anderson will put Barney to the sword as he finally realises his potential on the biggest stage in darts. Match odds: Barney 6/5 | Anderson 4/6.

ROUND TWO (DAY THREE)
It wasn’t just the manner of Raymond van Barneveld’s impressive win over Kevin McDine – 98 average, ten 180s, controlled under pressure, consistent & nerveless – it was his post match interview that gave me the biggest hint yet that this could well be his year again. It is a while since I’ve seen him so relaxed and thoughtful in the commentary box – thoughtful in a positive way, contemplating the game(s) ahead with the usual respect, not battling the darting demons that have appeared so often this last year or so. Barney looks the part again and when that laconic third dart is consistently finding the lipstick – the lip curls in the knowledge it will find its target – it spells trouble for the rest of the field.

McDine was much better than he was against Barrie Bates. He threatened to turn the match into a classic mid-way through but Barney stepped on the gas and took the game away like he used to do. Next up it’s Colin Osborne, a scrappy 4-0 winner against Jamie Caven, and then potentially Gary Anderson in the quarter final. Taylor, Whitlock, Lewis & Webster are all in the other half giving Barney a great chance to reach the final.

Anderson will prove a difficult barrier should he overcome Andy Smith, a player he has never beaten in five matches. Anderson was cruising against Dennis Priestley, three sets to nil up with a near 110 average. But as the finishing line neared the nerves kicked in and had Priestley not missed darts to make it 3-3 in sets it might have been the Yorkshire man tackling Smith in the last 16. A relieved Anderson closed it out and finished on an impressive 103 average, having hit 13 maximums.

That scoring should see him past Smith as well but the Pieman is a bogey player for the Scot as he is for Mervyn King who was again on the receiving end, bowing out 3-4 to Smith. This half of the draw is slightly the easier with the real form players banging into each other in the top half. Barney & Anderson are the fancied pair but Smith, Walsh, Jenkins, Osborne & Newton will also recognise the golden path that has opened up before them.

ROUND TWO (DAY TWO)
James Wade’s darting demons returned to haunt him in round two as he failed his Mensur test, losing 4-2 to Mensur Suljovic in one of the biggest upsets seen on the big stage. Suljovic was full value for the win and his post match interview was his own Hashimoto moment. Wade, many people’s hot tip for the title, hit only one maximum to Suljovic’s seven and crumbled alarmingly just as he did against Scott Waites in the Grand Slam of Darts final back in November. Suljovic moves on to a clash with Wes Newton in the last 16 while Wade heads home for some serious introspection.

Wade’s demise was the highlight (unless you are him, family, sponsor or fan) of a day that started well with Mark Walsh riding his luck against Alan Tabern to somehow win 4-3 after Tabern missed numerous match darts to win a game he should never have lost. Walsh has finally burst his world championship hoodoo; this is his now his best ever run in the tournament and his 11 maximums in the game will give him confidence as he strives for consistency in his last 16 clash with Terry Jenkins.

Sandwiched in between this drama was a serving of more ordinary fayre – Vincent van der Voort was highly impressive in seeing off a much fancied Wayne Jones. It was arguably the Dutchman’s best TV performance and he comes up against Simon Whitlock in the last 16. Terry Jenkins beat an under par Steve Brown 4-1, while in the evening Wes Newton and Simon Whitlock both won 4-0 against Brendan Dolan & Denis Ovens. Whitlock was particularly impressive, averaging 103, hitting lots of 180s, big checkouts, and allowing Ovens just two legs. The Aussie will be a real handful and could go one better than last year.

Can Superman save the Ladbrokes World Championship
ROUND TWO (DAY ONE)
To pinch a line from Homer Simpson – I’m not normally praying man but if you’re out there, please, do something Superman.  On Christmas Day as we raised a toast to Santa, His elves, and the turkey fairy I secretly wished for this tournament to spring into life when the action resumed; it had been seriously underwhelming until now. There is no Matt Clark this year but could the rest of the seeds please stand up.

Indeed, the first six matches of round two did see the seeds stand up. Then generally blow up, bow out, and slink off stage in a cloud of self doubt and bewilderment. “What happened to my finishing?” Paul Nicholson would have been muttering as he turned a first round 82% checkout rate into something closer to single figures during his surprise & limp defeat to a frankly ordinary Peter Wright.

Andy Hamilton carried his awful form into round two and was easily dispatched by Robert Thornton in straight sets, as was Ronnie Baxter who to be fair had one of the seeds’ toughest tasks against former BDO world champion Mark Webster, who has thrust himself firmly into the group of contenders. Colin Lloyd went the same way as Nicholson, by the same score, to high flying Mark Hylton who is improving noticeably with every game.

Only Adrian Lewis and, unsurprisingly, Phil Taylor flew the flag for the top 16 – both very impressive in seeing of an ill Mark Dudbridge and a beaten-before-he-got-on-stage Per Laursen who was lying back and thinking of the money.

Shocks aplenty but is that good for the tournament? Peter Wright averages only mid-80’s as he did here against Nicholson and, hair aside, is not likely to set the competition alight. He could be this year’s Kirk Shepherd – the man with nine lives – but he plays Phil Taylor next so I doubt it.

Taylor’s once potentially tricky path is being cleared before by a huge darting snowplough. John Part & Paul Nicholson could have been terminal opponents for a misfiring Power in the early rounds. Neither made it far enough and a run of Gary Mawson, Per Laursen & Peter Wright looks almost hand picked before the serious stuff starts with a likely clash against Mark Webster who tackles Mark Hylton next.

Adrian Lewis is still there and although he was slightly fortunate to play an off colour opponent he still looked bang on form and ruthless in his win over Dudbridge. Sparks could fly if he keeps that consistency and doubling rate up. Robert Thornton is his next hurdle with Simon Whitlock a potential quarter final foe.

ROUND TWO (DAY TWO) PREVIEW
Day two of round two sees another clutch of tight encounters in the afternoon session. Despite his shocking world championship history Mark Walsh ‘should’ be too good for Alan Tabern. Providing the reports of a festive illness aren’t too serious Wayne Jones’ 2010 form ‘should’ be enough to vanquish the precipitate Vincent van der Voort. And finally, Terry Jenkins v Steve Brown – anybody care to predict that one? All I’ll say is it ‘should’ be a belter.

In the evening session, Wes Newton, Simon Whitlock & James Wade are all too strong for Brendan Dolan, Denis Ovens & Mensur Suljovic, and will surely have no problem making it to the last 16? Won’t they?

NIGHTS 7 & 8
The final two nights of round one, before the Christmas break, had about as much excitement as a soup spooning contest. For the record, Colin Osborne, Raymond van Barneveld, Jamie Caven, Andy Smith, Mark Walsh, Dennis Priestley & Mervyn King all breezed into round two and will enjoy their festive turkey. Kevin McDine beat Barrie Bates in the let down game of the tournament so far (both players averaging less than 80 to sit 75th & 76th in the averages chart), and Magnus Caris came from 3-1 down to beat Dietmar Burger in their prelim game. Apart from that Priestley’s quip that he hoped his wife had put the chickens away and Freddie Flintoff’s commentary box exploits were the highlights of a rather dreary back end of round one.

Roll on round two.

NIGHT 6

You just got the feeling that night 6 was a dangerous one for the seeds and so it proved. As the pace & excitement went up a few notches so did the drama as Dutch Night turned into a Dutch nightmare. First Michael van Gerwen delivered a masterclass in how to miss doubles in his defeat by the methodical but effective Mensur Suljovic, then Jelle Klaasen was bombed out in quick time by an impressive Steve Brown. Brown is a highly likeable character who is on the rise in the PDC and looking to supplant the Dutch youngsters in the rankings. I already knew about his Darts Academy but was not aware that he fostered children as well; a couple of facts that have instantly rocketed him to my second favourite player and the one that I want to win this title, after Wayne Jones.

Elsewhere on night 6 it was a nervy win for Terry Jenkins who was two sets up and cruising against Joe Cullen before finding himself level at 2-2 and up against it as the youngster started to hit the maximums. The Bull dug in and upped his game to break Cullen’s resistance and limp into round two and a meeting with Brown – a rematch of their World Matchplay first round encounter earlier this year when Brown won 10-6.

Vincent van der Voort had no trouble seeing of Preston Ridd, losing only one leg and wrapping up victory is super quick style. Ridd had earlier whitewashed Michael Mansell 4-0 in their preliminary clash and was flying the Kiwi flag before coming up against the VvdV juggernaut.

Night 7 sees my ‘man most likely’, Raymond van Barneveld open his account with a tricky one against the Muffin Man Steve Hine. Barney should have enough but can’t afford a lax start. The same goes for Colin Osborne who takes on Chris Thompson, no mug himself. Jamie Caven is in good form this year and will be to strong for the winner of the Devon Petersen v Norman Madhoo prelim. Game of the night promises to be the evenly matched Barrie Bates against Kevin McDine – I can’t call this one but expect there to be only a couple of legs in it.

NIGHTS 3 to 5

While all eyes have been on the snow and the country got excited about the disruption, the darts plodded on with thrills & spills making only fleeting appearances. As Andy Hamilton hit zero 180s in lumbering to a win over Dennis Smith, Morihiro Hashimoto provided the light relief as Ally Pally adopted a new hero. The man from Japan saw off Matt Padgett before being put to the sword by a ruthless Gary Anderson who hit the highest average of the tournament so far (103.26). Anderson’s win was typical of the other games as Simon Whitlock & Mark Dudbridge were both comfortable in beating Steve Evans & Alex Roy.

Night 4 was going the same pedestrian way with Wayne Jones, Robert Thornton & Wes Newton all comfortably through, until Per Laursen produced the shock of the championship so far in beating 3-time winner John Part. Finally some excitement and this writer had gone to bed. Ear infections & itchy teeth were Part’s reasoning and a Canadian Christmas & NY is his prize, watching from afar.

After a couple of rather dreary nights where Sid & the boys did their best to create the illusion of drama, one look at night 5’s running order induced an early evening yawn. I’m not sure there has been a less exciting night’s line up in this tournament’s history – Tabern, Burnett, Dolan, Wade, and some little known qualifiers, all topped off by hot stuff himself, Denis Ovens. Paddy Power weren’t offering odds on ‘Number of Smiles’ so my money stayed in my pocket. I’d have gone low. All matches went with form with exception of Kevin Painter who went down in straight sets with barely a whimper; even this shock was devoid of excitement.

NIGHTS 4 to 6 PREVIEW

I’m hoping for much more to compensate over the next three nights – we’ve got Michael van Gerwen, Jelle Klaasen & Vincent van der Voort on Tuesday so it’s sure to be an early night at least. There’s a sniff of an upset or two here as well – these fast throwers can be erratic and are prime first round casualties. van Gerwen could be unsettled by the methodical Menusr Suljovic, who has experience on this stage, and Steve Brown wil give Klaasen a game. Joe Cullen plays Terry Jenkins and could spring a surprise but Jenkins is usually solid and rarely loses early in a major.

Also coming up we’ve got Colin Osborne, Barney & Jamie Caven on Wednesday along with one of the potential games of the first round – Barrie Bates v Kevin McDine. A hard one to call that could go either way and will be won by the odd leg. Andy Smith, Mark Walsh, Dennis Priestley & Mervyn King complete the first round games on Thursday before the break for Christmas and I fancy that not all of them will be back. The back end of the draw looks ripe for a few surprises so I’ll be studying that section closely and picking the upsets to take a wedge out of Paddy’s pocket.

NIGHT 3 PREVIEW

There are always shocks in the first round – something like a third of seeds traditionally fall at the first – but picking them is trickier that it seems. On night three I really can’t see any upsets with Andy Hamilton, Simon Whitlock and Gary Anderson all in action; so there’s bound to be at least one! However, Whitlock & Anderson are on my shortlist for the title and The Hammer’s consistency should be too much for a reborn Dennis Smith. Whitlock takes on Steve Evans while Anderson plays the winner of the Matt Padgett v Morihiro Hashimoto prelim. If you’re sniffing for a shock, Padgett might struggle in his first game on the big stage or there’s an outside chance of Alex Roy beating Mark Dudbridge. Roy has plenty of world championship experience and he could capitalise if Dudbridge suffers first round blues but my money will be staying  in my pocket tonight.

NIGHTS 1 & 2

A fun filled evening with Mr Angelos Epithemiou meant no darts action for this writer on Friday night which meant I missed a colourful evenings action by all accounts. The colour provided by Snakebite himself, Peter Wright, who is unmissable in his unique livery, and by an irate Colin Lloyd punching the target in frustration under a German onslaught from Andree Welge. Jaws came through the test in the end and Wright put paid to Co Stompe’s hopes, the second shock of the championship after Steve Beaton’s exit on night one.

Speaking of which, the opening night  was short on drama (Paul Nicholson doing the business against Steve Farmer & Mark Webster demolishing Steve Maish) but Beaton’s loss to former trolley dolly Mark Hylton threw up the first upset, and Phil Taylor’s dismal display in seeing off Gary ‘Rafa’ Mawson gave us the second. Taylor looks to be on shaky ground at the moment and if he’d been playing Nicholson or Webster on night one he’d be out of the tournament today.

Which is true of Roland Scholten who made a long awaited return to tv action, winning his preliminary round match against Veijo Viinikka before falling to Ronnie Baxter. Hopefully Tripod will be back and this is the start of a return to the top. The other player to progress on night two was Adrian Lewis who got through a tricky opener against The Viper, Tony Eccles, who hit 8 maximums and the maximum finish of 170 but lost all three sets 3-2.

TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

Could 2011 be Gary Anderson's golden year?For the first time in a long time 15-time world champion Phil Taylor goes into the tournament a little less than red hot favourite after spending the latter part of 2010 losing to every Tom, Dick & Harry. The Power is still the man to beat, but if you are looking for an heir apparent to be lifting the trophy on January 2nd I wouldn’t look too far down the current order of merit. If Taylor doesn’t win his 16th title it will be a surprise (as it always is) but this year it feels more likely and there a slack handful of genuine pretenders to his crown.

There are numerous players who are getting closer and their day may come; the likes of Mark Webster, Paul Nicholson, Adrian Lewis, Colin Osborne, & Mark Walsh have the look of future champions. And though time my be running out for Terry Jenkins, Kevin Painter, Andy Hamilton & Mervyn King each has the pedigree to become world champion. However the longer format separates the men from the boys where consistency allied with nerve is the key – high quality matches will be won by the narrowest margins by the most nerveless player and with this in mind my four potential world-champions-who-are-not-Taylor are:-

1. Raymond van Barneveld - relaxed & revitalised World Cup winner a couple of weeks ago and one with the pedigree to win another world title. In the opposite half to Taylor and once again my shout as The Man most likely.
2. James Wade – there is no doubt that he will become world champion one day and there is no reason why it can’t be this year. Also in the opposite half to Taylor but arguably the tougher half despite this.
3. Simon Whitlock – in the form of his life, beaten finalist last year (giving Taylor a real scare) and easily could go one better. Has the temperament and the long format consistency. He’s my only pick in the same half of the draw as Taylor.
4. Gary Anderson – suspect temperament and sometimes struggles to motivate himself but if he can box those nerves and hit his doubles there are few to match his 180 scoring. Over long distances this really counts and few can live with him when his eye is in. I feel he will win this one year and the years are running out for this late developer.

Not overly inspired admittedly but I really can’t look outside this quintet (including Taylor) as the likely 2011 PDC World Champion. The draw separates Taylor & Whitlock until the semis and Wade & Barney can’t meet until the same stage. Barney would need to get past Anderson in the quarters should both get that far but there are time bombs lurking in every section of the draw such is the standard these days.

There are a couple of old faces who might have honestly thought they wouldn’t see this stage again – it’s good to see Roland Scholten back competing after shoulder surgery, and it’s equally nice to see former BDO world champion Richie Burnett back in the big time after a few lean years and struggle with funding the tour.

The world championship often signals a subtle changing of the guard and there are one or two familiar names not in attendance this year. Wayne Mardle came very close to sneaking in at the last minute and having blown his big chance in 2008 we won’t be seeing Hawaii 501 this year. One Dart has become No Darts recently as Peter Manley drifts out of the spotlight and is another absentee, as is Andy Jenkins whose form has been rocky of late and he misses out for the first time in a while.

The world championship always delivers a Christmas cracker so as the snow moves in again we can sit back, turn up the heating, and toast the festive darts season. For two whole weeks. Bliss.

Ally Pally Stato Zone

We will be bringing updated daily stats as the championship progresses. As we reach the quarter final stage this is the stats picture…

Stat Value Player Round Match Opponent
Matches Played 64
Highest Average 108.39 Gary Anderson Last 16 7 Andy Smith
Lowest Average 71.29 Preston Ridd Last 64 16 Vincent van der Voort
Tournament Average 89.56
Top 10 Averages
1 108.39 Gary Anderson Last 16 7 Andy Smith
2 103.44 Gary Anderson Last 32 14 Dennis Priestley
3 103.26 Gary Anderson Last 64 27 Morihiro Hashimoto
4 102.86 Simon Whitlock Last 32 7 Denis Ovens
5 102.09 Phil Taylor Last 32 1 Per Laursen
6 101.05 Adrian Lewis Last 16 3 Robert Thornton
7 99.05 Terry Jenkins Last 16 6 Mark Walsh
8 98.93 Mark Webster Last 64 6 Steve Maish
9 98.24 Raymond van Barneveld Last 32 15 Colin Osborne
10 98.07 Phil Taylor Last 16 1 Peter Wright
Bottom 10 Averages
119 80.24 Magnus Caris Preliminary Round 1 Dietmar Burger
120 80.10 Dennis Smith Last 64 11 Andy Hamilton
121 79.82 Devon Petersen Last 64 32 Jamie Caven
122 79.42 Andy Hamilton Last 64 11 Dennis Smith
123 78.80 Barrie Bates Last 64 30 Kevin McDine
124 77.65 Kevin McDine Last 64 30 Barrie Bates
125 77.49 Gary Mawson Last 64 1 Phil Taylor
126 76.81 Dietmar Burger Preliminary Round 1 Magnus Caris
127 75.93 Veijo Viinikka Preliminary Round 5 Roland Scholten
128 71.29 Preston Ridd Last 64 16 Vincent van der Voort
Highest Checkout 170 Tony Eccles Last 64 9 Adrian Lewis
100+ Checkouts 74
Most 180s 13 Gary Anderson Last 32 14 Dennis Priestley
Tournament 180s 430
Avg 180s 3.3594
Top 10 180s
1 13 Gary Anderson Last 32 14 Dennis Priestley
2 11 Mark Walsh Last 32 12 Alan Tabern
3 10 Gary Anderson Last 16 7 Andy Smith
4 10 Raymond van Barneveld Last 32 15 Colin Osborne
5 9 Raymond van Barneveld Last 16 8 Colin Osborne
6 9 Dennis Priestley Last 32 14 Gary Anderson
7 9 Adrian Lewis Last 16 3 Robert Thornton
8 8 Tony Eccles Last 64 9 Adrian Lewis
9 7 Mark Hylton Last 32 4 Colin Lloyd
10 7 Mark Hylton Last 64 8 Steve Beaton

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