This is what it's all about, the big one, the one you look forward to all year, the one you remember, the one where it hurts to lose, the one where it's thrilling to win.
Nobody knows more about what it takes to win the PDC Championships than Phil Taylor, he's done it 15 times and he's a worthy favourite to walk off with the Sid Waddell trophy again on New Year's Day.
By his own standards, Phil has had a poor year. But only by his own standards. He's won the Players' Championship Finals, the Premier League, the Matchplay Championship and nine tour events in 2012 - name me another player who would be dissatisfied with that.
Phil plays darts like nobody else on the planet and as long as that's the case he deserves to be the favourite for any tournament he enters. At [3.0], he's value.
The only player who could seriously trouble Phil is Michael van Gerwen. The Dutchman has been sensational in 2012, winning his first PDC Major title at the World Grand Prix in October as well as a clutch of Players Championship events. If he and Taylor play their games then we'll see them in the final, so I'll back Van Gerwen to get there at [3.05].
There's a promising cluster of players below the top two who could all play big parts at Ally Pally over the next fortnight. Adrian Lewis [12.5] has had a busy 12 months, getting married, having a child and coming in to a bit of form in recent weeks.
I'm afraid that this tournament might have come a month or two early for Jackpot, he's starting to click but I don't think it will be enough for him to claim the title for a third time. Of course, I said that last year and it turned out he was right on the money again. But I'll trust my instincts and swerve him this time.
Instead, I think Gary Anderson has a chance and I'm going to put a few quid on at [19.0]. Like Lewis, he's had plenty of distractions this year but he's getting his groove back in time for the big one and could well be in the mix.
At longer odds, I'm going to put small stakes on Raymond Van Barneveld [21.0] and even Wes Newton out at [40.0]. Both are capable players but they do face potentially tricky draws, Barney in particular as he takes on Michael Smith, a young Lancastrian who on his day has the beating of the Dutchman.
Barney fails to do himself justice at the World Championships. His temperament might not be suited to big, ole Ally Pally. It's a vast arena and if things aren't going your way it can swallow you. So why am I backing Barney? Because he's throwing beautiful darts and, if he finds momentum, he has a chance of getting to the latter stages and his odds will come in.
Some commentators have said this is the most open World Championship we've seen for many years. I know what they mean and I understand that a changing of the guard is inevitable in sport. Van Gerwen has many years ahead of him, and he's a champion in the making, but the Power will be around, and winning, for some time yet. I won't be surprised if he comes out top here.comments powered by Disqus