The 2016 PDC William Hill World Championship concludes this weekend, with eight players still in with a shot at taking home the biggest winner’s cheque in the sport’s history.
One of Raymond van Barneveld, Michael Smith, Adrian Lewis, Peter Wright, Gary Anderson, James Wade, Alan Norris or Jelle Klaasen will scoop a staggering £300,000 on Sunday night. But to do so they must win three games in consecutive days on the Alexandra Palace stage, and see off a field of players who all believe they have a genuine chance of getting their hands on the Sid Waddell Trophy.
The early departures of world number one Michael van Gerwen and 16-time world champion Phil Taylor has left this year’s PDC World Championship wide open heading into the final weekend.
Defending champion Gary Anderson, like Scott Mitchell in the BDO, is hoping to become only the third first-time world champion to retain their title the following year.
The Flying Scotsman has got through to the quarter-finals relatively unscathed, having only dropped one set so far. That came against Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney, who after taking the first set crucially then spurned a dart to go 2-0 up in sets.
Anderson capitalised and reeled off four straight sets to move into the last 16. The Scot posted a 101.58 average and dropped just one leg to comfortably despatch Vincent van der Voort on Tuesday night, and has set up an intriguing quarter-final clash with James Wade this afternoon.
The Machine has also only lost one set so far in the competition, despite having yet to show his best darts in wins over John Michael, Wes Newton and Jamie Caven.
With Wade yet to get over the semi-final hurdle at the World Championship, and with either Norris or Klaasen awaiting the winner tomorrow night, you feel that this is a big game for him.
Although Anderson has the far superior record against Wade, with 24 wins out of their 35 meetings, perhaps vitally it is the Machine who holds the better record when they’ve faced off in major events.
Wade has got the better of the Scot in their two clashes in the World Matchplay in 2009 and 2013, and also came out on top 4-3 in their World Grand Prix semi-final last year.
Whoever wins that one will no doubt fancy their chances against Norris or Klaasen in the last four, with both potential opponents lacking the big stage experience of the PDC major events.
The top half of the draw is where it gets more difficult to establish a clear winner. Van Barneveld’s shock victory over van Gerwen this week has given him the belief that he can go all the way and claim a sixth world title.
But even three days after beating his compatriot, how much has that taken out of the 48-year-old? The big thing in his favour for tonight is he is up against a player who is in unchartered territory.
Michael Smith’s 4-0 thrashing of Benito van de Pas on Monday afternoon saw him advance to a World Championship quarter-final for the first time in his career.
Now up to a career high ranking of number eight on the PDC Order of Merit, Bully Boy will also be thinking of a potential place in this year’s Premier League.
Smith has staked his claim for a spot with his run to the semi-finals of the Grand Slam in November, and getting to the quarter-finals of the biggest event of all will have done his chances no harm.
The last quarter-final tonight could well be the best of the lot, as world number four Peter Wright takes on world number five Adrian Lewis in what is set to be a mouth-watering encounter on the Alexandra Palace stage.
Lewis saves his best darts for the World Championship and it has been no different this time round, with the two-time world champion yet to drop a set after wins over Jan Dekker, Andrew Gilding and Mensur Suljovic.
Wright is looking for his major title and has came close on a number of occasions this year. Could this be Snakebite’s time?