The 2024 PDC World Darts Championship is fast approaching and it could be the most exciting competition yet.
With the tournament wide open with regards to who will claim the world crown, it promises to be an exciting 16 days at the Alexandra Palace in London.
Will there be a surprise winner? Or will it be a member of the game’s elite who lifts the Sid Waddell trophy in January?
There are four or five genuine contenders this year and while in the past a player has tended to dominate the sport leading up to the biggest event of the season, 2023 has seen the biggest prizes shared among some wonderful players.
Struggle to Win Back-to-back World Championship Titles
Having lost eight successive major televised finals, the 33-year-old was beginning to look like the perennial bridesmaid. His breakthrough, however, came at the Grand Slam last November and he used this newfound confidence to finally win the world title a couple of months later.
In terms of betting on darts online, Smith is currently the third favorite for the title, with odds of +700 and this is perhaps a fair reflection considering his recent form. Unsurprisingly, Michael van Gerwen is once again the favorite and his World Darts betting odds are currently +400.
The three time winner of the event is usually the man to beat at the yearly event. He is going through a bit of a dry spell however, failing to win the title since 2019 and if he aims to get anywhere near Phil Taylor’s total of 16 world crowns, Van Gerwen must start by winning the 2024 edition.
Since claiming the world crown, Smith has won the Bahrain Masters and the German Darts Grand Prix along with a Players Championship success, but he has had no victories since June.
The defense of his Grand Slam crown ended at the round-robin stage and with just weeks to go before he aims to retain his world title, Smith needs to find some form, and fast, otherwise, it could be an unlikely early exit.
Superb 2023 Championship Performance
Smith became just the 11th winner of the PDC world title when he defeated a shell-shocked Michael van Gerwen to claim the biggest prize in the sport nearly a year ago. Seeded fourth, the 33-year-old enjoyed a straightforward victory in round two yet had to fight back from 3-1 down against Martin Schindler to prevail 4-3 and reach the fourth round.
Comfortable victories followed in his next two matches and he dispatched Gabriel Clemens 6-2 in the semifinals, leaving plenty in the tank for a showdown with Van Gerwen in the final.
This would be the second time the pair had met in a world final, with the Dutchman coming out on top in 2019, strolling to a 7-3 victory considering he had dropped just one set in his previous three matches, the three-time champion of the world was hungry for another title.
A nervy start ensured Smith trailed 1-0, but with the second set level at 1-1, both men had the chance to hit a nine-dart finish. Van Gerwen missed double 12 with his last dart, leaving the door open for the Englishman.
Without missing a beat, Smith hit three perfect darts to finish the leg, making his first nine-dart finish in the World Championships.
The match ebbed and flowed until Smith took a 6-3 lead and despite a brief resurgence from Van Gerwen, the two-time runner-up closed out the match and claimed his maiden world title amid emotional scenes.
This victory should act as a catalyst for Smith, as with his talent, there is no reason why he can’t finish his career having won four or five world titles.
While he may not be in the best of form leading up to the 2024 edition, winners always find a way to succeed and once he hits the ground running at Alexandra Palace, he’ll be difficult to stop.
With Price, Van Gerwen, and Peter Wright all gunning for the same prize however, the tournament promises to be one of the most exciting in years as there are a genuine handful of contenders who could walk away with the Sid Waddell trophy and a cheque for £500k.