Jaymes Monte previews the most open PDC World Championship in recent history and is hoping for a repeat final of two years ago...
"Two years ago Lewis and Anderson squared off in what was an enthralling final at Ally Pally."
Cliché or not, since the PDC boys broke from the BDO and formed their own World Championships there has never been a more open contest for the title.
This season there have been as many as six different winners of Major titles in the PDC. And although Phil Taylor may have flexed his muscles at the recent Players Championship Finals, it is indisputable - regardless of what happens at Alexandra Palace this winter - that that muscle is nowhere near as imposing as it was 12-18 months ago.
The Power remains a deserving favourite, but long gone are the days of odds-on prices about the 15-time world champion. Seven players are set to go off at odds of 21.020/1 or shorter this week, while there are a few at even bigger odds that wouldn't be considered a major surprise should they lift the Sid Waddell trophy on New Year's Day.
No doubt there'll be many prepared to back the world number one at odds of 3.1511/5, especially following on from his triumph in Minehead a fortnight ago. But the Players Championship Finals has never truly been considered an important Major, and just because Taylor won it doesn't change that opinion.
Let's not forget that Andy Hamilton could and should have put him away in the quarter-finals when leading 9-5 in the race to 10, and had he done so it would have been the fourth time in consecutive televised events that Taylor had failed to reach the semi-finals stage.
I wouldn't advise anyone to lay Taylor at the odds, but as a backing option in such a wide-open contest, he's not for me.
Since retaining his world title then following it up with victory at the World Cup of Darts alongside Taylor, Adrian Lewis has had a year to forget. Only once has he gone past the last 16 stage of a Major tournament and he couldn't even get out of the Group stages of the Premier League or Grand Slam.
Some suggest that he is spending too much time on the exhibitions circuit and should be allowing himself more 'down time', others believe that he doesn't apply himself sufficiently throughout the year, and most simply don't have a clue why he struggles so badly at times. I am firmly entrenched in the latter camp.
However, I do know that despite his problems this calendar year, you'd be foolish to write off his chances of making it three world titles on the bounce.
Despite having to deal with the welcome distractions of becoming a father for the second time during the Players Championship Finals, Lewis gave a good account of himself and showed encouraging signs that he was moving back towards his best at the ideal time of the year.
An opening round match with Gino Vos, followed by a potential second round tie with the desperately out of form Denis Ovens will allow Jackpot time to feel his way into the tournament. Then by the time it comes to a potential mouth-watering quarter-final clash with tournament second favourite Michael van Gerwen, he should be in full flow. At odds of 13.012/1 Lewis is one I want firmly in my corner.
Much like Lewis, Gary Anderson looks to be working his way back into form at just the right time of the year. Injury, suspension and bereavement have beset The Flying Scotsman over the past 18 months, but he has shown in the last two Majors that he is a very long way from being a spent force in this game.
He doesn't have the most favourable of draws - Raymond van Barneveld, Simon Whitlock and Taylor could all stand between him and a place in the final - but the set-play format is one that will suit Anderson's game at present.
In set-play you can get away with the odd bad leg; you can lose two legs during a set and not see a blot on the scoreboard, while a run of three losing legs only sees one mark go next to your opponent's name. Anderson often throws in a few poor legs of darts in a contest, and in matchplay that can and often does cost him dearly. This format affords him the odd slip-up within a match and consequently makes him a cracking bet at odds of 19.018/1.
Two years ago Lewis and Anderson squared off in what was an enthralling final at Ally Pally. A repeat may be on the cards, and would be the perfect scenario.