Who will win the final? Who will be the player to watch? Which seeds are most in danger of going out in their first game? A host of darts journalists, pundits and commentators tackle these and other questions ahead of the 2022 PDC World Championship.
Who will reach the final – and who will win it?
Rod Studd: Price v Wright. Wright to win.
Laura Turner: I’m still finding it hard to split Clayton and Price at the moment – Price was in top form at the Players Championships, but Clayton has multiple wins under his belt this year. I’m calling Clayton to edge out Price in the quarters and get through that top section to then face Peter Wright in the final.
Dan Dawson: While he may not be at the absolute peak of his powers, Michael van Gerwen is back winning titles again, which means only one thing: he is going to win something massive soon. I thought he might have picked up a ranking TV title already over the last couple of months, but he’s not quite got the job done. I do think he has a great chance of rectifying that with the biggest one of the lot at Ally Pally, despite the fact his route to the final could be horrendous, but you could say that about pretty much anyone. As for the other half of the draw? – predicting Price to win it seems rather boring (and his quarter is a nightmare anyway), so I’ll go for someone else, maybe James Wade or Joe Cullen.
Chris Murphy: I am going to stick my neck out and predict that James Wade will finally reach his first World Championship final. Unfortunately for James, I also think he will be beaten when he gets there by Peter Wright, heavily!
Phil Haigh: I quite fancy Jonny Clayton to pull off the big one this time around. He’s been superb this year, winning four big titles. His performance in the final of the Grand Prix really was incredible, to wallop the world champion in a major final and look so in control throughout was very convincing to me. Of anyone in the field, he may be least worried about playing his pal Gerwyn Price. The Ferret’s in the top half and from the bottom half I’ll go with Peter Wright. He was having a bit of a wobble, but final of the Grand Slam and a win at the Players Championship Finals shows he is back and ready for another deep run at Ally Pally.
Christopher Kempf: The final will be contested by Jonny Clayton and Michael van Gerwen, with Clayton winning 7-5 in sets.
Lendel Faria (FDI): Gerwyn Price – Michael van Gerwen. The two favourites in the top half have to be Gezzy Price and Jonny Clayton. I’m going with Price this time because of the fact that he has already done it. Clayton could push him all the way in the quarters though. Too bad that those two have to meet that soon (if they get that far of course). Bottom half looks to be a three horse race between MvG, Wright and Rob Cross. I’m going with Michael van Gerwen because of his consistency in recent weeks. Peter Wright was brilliant at the Matchplay and in Minehead but was woeful in between, Rob Cross was brilliant during the Euros but didn’t reach the same heights in Wolverhampton or Minehead. Michael van Gerwen has shown class throughout, it’s just about getting through that off game he seems to be having every tournament.
Josh Green: I see it being the top two in the world making it through to the final. Gerwyn Price’s recent win over Jonny was a big scalp so for me it gives him the edge in that encounter. In the bottom half, Wright and MvG are the obvious picks, but for me the Scot faces less opposition in his quarter, whilst a potential match-up with Rob Cross or Luke Humphries could spell problems for MvG in my opinion.
Josh’s Dartistry: I just have a feeling Michael van Gerwen is going to halt his barren spell by landing the big one! Michael’s numbers since September indicate that he is on the cusp of scooping major silverware, and although he has displayed signs of fragility in the latter stages of recent events, I think he defeats Jonny Clayton to capture his fourth World Championship title in January.
Dylan Williams (Darts Cymru): Gerwyn Price v Nathan Aspinall. ‘The Iceman’ to defend his title.
Pim Huberts: I believe Jonny Clayton will win the world title. I was standing next to the stage when he had that magnificent comeback against Gerwyn Price at the World Series of Darts Finals in Amsterdam, and I truly believe that the unbeatable Clayton of the start of this year will be back in Ally Pally. He will play against Peter Wright in the final.
Jetze Jan Idsardi: Picking Gerwyn Price to reach his second World Championship final might be an easy thing to say, but I can hardly look past him. The draw for his first rounds have been kind to him, and if he can beat Jonny Clayton he should make it to the last two. In the bottom half, a new clash between Wright and Van Gerwen could be on the cards in the semi-finals. MVG is playing some great stuff again, but hasn’t had the luck. I think it will all come together in Ally Pally: The Green Machine reaches the final AND beats Gerwyn Price.
Kevin Barth: Gerwyn Price and Rob Cross will reach the final and Gerwyn Price will defend his title with a 7-4 scoreline. The Iceman will be up for the challenge as Cross is in a good form again. Someone else will knock out Wright and MvG, so that Cross doesn’t even have to play one of those two.
Who will be the player to watch?
Laura Turner: Aside from the top ranked players, Ryan Searle really is going from strength to strength as is Ryan Joyce. Both seem to be able to put in big performances and they have both performed well on the Ally Pally stage. Also, a mention for Damon Heta – he’s into the top 32 and I think he’s due a big performance.
Dan Dawson: There are dozens of players you could pick: Rob Cross is back playing wonderfully, but there were also great signs in Minehead from Daryl Gurney. I adore watching Ryan Searle, but his section of the draw is absolutely disgusting. Luke Humphries, Michael Smith and Dirk van Duijvenbode are all guaranteed entertainment. Someone will emerge from the pack to go deep though, so I’m going to stick with either Wade or Cullen.
Chris Murphy: Fallon Sherrock. All eyes will be on the Queen’s return to the Palace after her exploits a couple of years ago. Even more so after her most recent achievements on the World Series and at the Grand Slam – and, especially how she performed on the Women’s Series. There is no doubt in my mind that Sherrock is a better player than she was when she won two matches two years ago, and I think she could at least match that run this time around. The Fallon phenomenon is so good for darts, it puts plenty of eyes on darts that usually wouldn’t be watching it and that is positive for everyone involved in the sport and for its future. She’s my player to watch and she will be the most watched player by far.
Phil Haigh: Luke Humphries is always a man to watch, I reckon. Big game player, loves the World Championship. He’s been to two quarter-finals already and he may have to beat Michael van Gerwen to do that again, but he is more than capable of doing that, in what would have the potential to be a classic.
Christopher Kempf: Player to watch is Chris Dobey – the standout floor player of the autumn and one of the few players averaging 100+ in the last several Super Series, probably the best shot of eliminating MvG before the final few days of the tournament
Lendel Faria (FDI): My player to watch is Raymond Smith, he has been bossing the DPA Satellite Tour this year and he has a pretty okay draw. Hughes and Petersen didn’t have the best of years and Ray Smith has the game to beat them whenever they don’t bring their A-game.
Josh’s Dartistry: I really do believe Luke Humphries is destined to win a major very soon, but he’s in a nightmare fourth quarter. Gary Anderson showed signs of his brilliant best at the Grand Slam and he’s always a huge danger at Alexandra Palace, but I like Joe Cullen’s chances of coming through that wide-open second quarter.
Dylan Williams (Darts Cymru): Of the unseeded players I fancy Jim Williams to have a run. He has more experience than most of the others who enter at the first round stage and is familiar with the set format. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Quiff got as far as the fourth round. I’ve predicted The Asp to make the final. He’s due a run. Yes, he’s been missing for large parts of 2021, but he usually comes to life at the Palace. Dolan in the third round will be a hurdle to overcome, but I can see Aspinall warming to his task by then.
Pim Huberts: If you look at the seeded players we might see an unexpected streak of wins from either Rob Cross or Daryl Gurney, Krzysztof Ratajski, and even Brendan Dolan could surprise. Ryan Joyce does often surprise on TV-tournaments as well, and I can see Toyokazu Shibata and Nitin Kumar going for an unexpected win in their first round.
Jetze Jan Idsardi: Looking at players outside the top 32, I fancy Martin Schindler and Jim Williams to go on a run. Schindler is hitting top form this year and could cause an upset by beating Dimitri Van den Bergh, while Jim Williams’ experience could see him beat Evetts and Cullen. From the seeds, Nathan Aspinall is my pick. The Asp has been playing great without getting the rewards as of late, but this could be his time to shine. I could see him reaching the semi-finals for a third time.
Kevin Barth: It’s not easy to pick just one player to watch. I really think that Brendan Dolan could do some damage, expect him to reach the quarter-finals. Many players in his half haven’t had the best results this year, his confidence will be high, especially after the semi-finals at the
Players Championship Finals. I also expect a lot from Danny Noppert,
Luke Humphries and Florian Hempel.
How far will the defending champion Gerwyn Price go?
Rod Studd: Final.
Laura Turner: There is no doubt in my mind that Price could retain the title, and he’s coming into the event with real focus and a recent tournament win, but I’ll stick by my original thought that he goes out to Clayton in the quarters.
Dan Dawson: I expect him to come through his opening match, but then I can see him being severely challenged in every single match after that. He will have to be consistently brilliant to come through a quarter that also includes Clayton, Big Dirk and every person ever to have thrown a dart with the surname Smith. I still believe he reaches the quarter-finals, but it might be The Ferret or The Bullyboy who stops him in a thriller.
Chris Murphy: If Fallon gets to the third round, she could meet Price in what would arguably be the biggest box office style clash for years. With the vociferous pre-Xmas crowd on her side and against their pantomime villain, I genuinely think it is a possibility that she could beat the world number one – because I think she would cope better than him in that kind of atmosphere. That said, it might just be a step too far and she has two very good players to beat before that game could even happen. Shall I say it? Oh go on then… just because it’s Christmas… And at Christmas you tell the truth… I think Price will fall against Fallon, actually, or maybe against Clayton in the quarters… or he might go on and win it. I don’t know!
Phil Haigh: The Iceman is pretty formidable, but now I’ve tipped up Clayton I’ll have to say the defending champ will fall to the Ferret in the quarter-finals.
Christopher Kempf: Price will lose in the quarter-finals to Jonny Clayton by an unexpectedly wide margin
Lendel Faria (FDI): I think Gerwyn Price will win the event. I think he and Clayton are the best on planet darts at the moment and I believe that Gerwyn Price is just a little bit better at crunch time.
Josh Green: I think Gezzy will retain his title, there’s plenty of competition this year with a crop of players below the ‘top three’ but after what he achieved last year I can’t look past him.
Josh’s Dartistry: The quarter-finals. I don’t think the tag of ‘defending champion’ will be a burden for Gerwyn, but the hostile atmosphere could be a factor, particularly if he plays Fallon Sherrock in round three! I think he’ll play his compatriot Jonny Clayton in the last eight, and while he defeated The Ferret en route to Grand Slam glory, the roles may be reversed at Alexandra Palace.
Dylan Williams (Darts Cymru): Price will defend the title in my opinion. There will be tests on the way as there were last year, but his mind-set is more resilient and I feel he’s matured into an unforgiving match player over the past 12 months. The return of crowds will be factor, but it’s up to Gerwyn how he responds.
Pim Huberts: Gerwyn Price will finish in the quarter-finals, losing against Clayton. But first he needs to surpass the Huybrechts or Beaton/Sherrock hurdle.
Jetze Jan Idsardi: His loss to Brendan Dolan in the Players Championship Finals is only a small slip. No need to panic for the Iceman: he is on for a great World Championship. His first three games shouldn’t be the biggest problems (Huybrechts and Bunting/Van Duijvenbode could still test him), but Jonny Clayton could be. Should he beat his fellow Welshman, than the semi-finals shouldn’t cause an exit either. A final against MvG could be on the cards, and in finals, anything can happen.
Kevin Barth: Gerwyn Price will become the world champion for a second successive year. His biggest test will be the clash with his compatriot Jonny Clayton in the last eight, before that round I don’t see the big tests for him. He didn’t win as many titles as some experts expected, but his game was always there.
Which first round match are you most looking forward to?
Rod Studd: Beaton vs Sherrock – should be an epic match between two of the most popular players in world darts.
Laura Turner: Where to start! I was in commentary when Fallon beat Ted Evetts and it’s an experience that will live with me forever. I cannot wait to see how both Lisa and Fallon get on this year. I’m also keen to see the 16-year-old Fabian Schmutzler in action – he had a blistering campaign on the European Development Tour, and how can you not mention the return of RVB against the charismatic Lourence Ilagan! There’s loads to look forward to!
Dan Dawson: Dezemberfest! – the all-German game between Schindler and Hempel. They have both been absolutely fantastic this year, and it’s a rather silly situation that they’ve ended up being drawn against each other, despite both doing enough to qualify via the Pro Tour. Lourence Ilagan is another player I love watching too, so I’m buzzing to see him play his first round game. Dunno who it is he’s facing. Don’t care either. Lourence Ilagan FTW.
Chris Murphy: Fallon Sherrock v Steve Beaton, obvs. Aside from that, Schindler v Hempel catches the eye, as does Jim Williams v Evetts. I also always look forward to watching Paul Lim and I am particularly excited about the inevitable antics of Lourence Ilagan and John Norman Jr in their first round matches.
Phil Haigh: Tough to pick one, there are some crackers in round one. Realistically it is Sherrock vs Beaton, which is absolutely must-see TV, but away from the obvious answer I’ll say Danny Lauby against William O’Connor. Two players I like watching.
Christopher Kempf: My pick of the first-round matches is Ilagan vs van Barneveld – Ilagan is probably the best Filipino player ever and more than a match in scoring terms for RvB
Lendel Faria (FDI): Adrian Lewis – Matt Campbell. Adrian has been showing some form the last few months, but despite what everybody says on Twitter; Ade is NOT back. He still has too many games where he doesn’t reach his best level and Matt is a player who can take advantage of that.
Josh Green: As always, there’s so many great first round match-ups so I’ll pick out a few. Fallon Sherrock and Adrian Lewis are obvious attractions in round one, but for me Adam Hunt Vs Boris Krcmar could be a real belter. In the bottom half I see Brad Brooks against Willy Borland as a top quality first round tie!
Josh’s Dartistry: There are so many intriguing ties. Adrian Lewis v Matt Campbell, Raymond van Barneveld v Lourence Ilagan, and the glamour tie between Fallon Sherrock and Steve Beaton. However, the all-German clash between Florian Hempel and Martin Schindler is the pick of the bunch for me.
Dylan Williams (Darts Cymru): There are two matches which catch my imagination in opposite halves of the draw. I’m a big fan of Danny Lauby Jr, and his match against Willie O’Connor has five sets written all over it. He pushed Ryan Searle all the way last year, but I expect him to just edge this one against The Magpie. In the bottom half it’s the opening night clash between Adrian Lewis and Matt Campbell which has caught my eye. We saw flashes of the old Jackpot at the recent Players Championship Finals, but he won’t have it all his own way against the Canadian. I’m expecting a high quality match with Lewis just having too much for the Ginga Ninja.
Pim Huberts: This edition of the PDC World Championship is the most global one in its history. I’m looking forward to seeing players from all around the globe do their absolute best to make their country proud. Nitin Kumar will write history for India by getting at least a set on the scoreboard, while 16-year Fabian Schmutzler is a story for itself, and Danny Lauby Jr. might surprise against William O’Connor. The best first round games are without a doubt Sherrock vs Beaton and Lewis vs Campbell.
Jetze Jan Idsardi: Fallon Sherrock vs Steve Beaton will be the game the casual fan has their eyes on, but there are plenty of other first round games that could be tasty. Rowby-John Rodriguez vs Nick Kenny could be a great watch, with possibly a tour card on the line. William O’Connor vs Danny Lauby is a game I haven’t heard many people talk about, but that game could be one of the best games of the first round. Florian Hempel vs Martin Schindler and Raymond van Barneveld vs Lourence Ilagan are another two awesome games.
Kevin Barth: It’s not the draw that the fans in Germany wanted to have, but of course the match between Florian Hempel and Martin Schindler will be really exciting. It has five sets written all over it. Steve Beaton against Fallon Sherrock looks also very tasty. Maybe the first time that Fallon is the favourite for a match in a PDC TV tournament. How will she deal with that?
Which seeds are most in danger of going out in the second round?
Rod Studd: No seed is certain to win in the format. Duzza is clearly vulnerable after the struggles he’s had. If Florian Hempel gets through round one he could threaten Dimitri. And if Adrian Lewis gets through an on song Jackpot could certainly put it up to Gary Anderson in a repeat of two previous world finals
Laura Turner: We all know Glen Durrant hasn’t been at his best this year and would face either William O’Connor or Danny Lauby Jnr, which could see him up against up it. A win for RVB would also set up an intriguing second round tie with Rob Cross. Also, if Alan Soutar comes through his match against Diogo Portela, he could cause a big threat for Suljovic who notably hasn’t made it past the third round in his 13 World Championship appearances.
Dan Dawson: There are some you worry about because of their own lack of form (Duzza), and others you fear for because of their potential opposition (eg. Dimitri playing one of the German lads). But if you’re looking for the highest profile casualty of the second round, I think last year’s finalist Gary Anderson might be in trouble against either Adrian Lewis or Matt Campbell.
Chris Murphy: The two that I am going to pick could prove me wrong and play each other in the third round but I am going to say Gary Anderson and Ian White. Adrian Lewis has showed signs of a resurgence despite the shenanigans in Minehead and Matt Campbell is also a very capable player. Either of those could give Gary problems at the Palace. As for White, I am fully expecting Scott Mitchell to defeat Chris Landman and then White has a really difficult task on his hands. Ian seems to have been a shadow of his former self this season and has lost that habit of winning.
Phil Haigh: Unfortunately you’ve got to say Glen Durrant here. His struggles are well documented and whoever comes through of O’Connor or Lauby will really fancy the job. Mensur Suljovic always seems liable to an early exit, so it wouldn’t be a shock if he fell at his first hurdle.
Christopher Kempf: The most vulnerable seeds are: Durrant, Whitlock and White – more due to their performances in 2021 than the calibre of their opponents – and Cross. Dolan and Anderson, more owing to the difficulty of the draw.
Josh Green: Glen Durrant and Devon Petersen have not found their top form in recent months so have to be the main seeds under threat. I also see Fallon Sherrock, should she get through, causing some real problems for Kim Huybrechts! She’s proved she can mix it with the best in the world, so no reason why she can’t beat the number 32 seed.
Josh’s Dartistry: The obvious call is Glen Durrant, but I hope Glen can salvage something from what’s been a desperately difficult campaign. Darius Labanauskas can cause Dave Chisnall major problems, and I think Mensur Suljovic will succumb to Alan Soutar. Gary Anderson, Rob Cross, Dimitri Van den Bergh, and Stephen Bunting will also have to hit the ground running.
Dylan Williams (Darts Cymru): Although it pains me to say it given his struggles on the oche in 2021, I just can’t see Glen Durrant being able to win three sets against either O’Connor or Lauby Jr. On the other hand I’d love to see him to prove me wrong. In the same section of the draw I fancy Welsh debutant Lewy Williams to come through against Shibata and pose a real challenge to Gabriel Clemens.
Pim Huberts: Stephen Bunting won’t have it easy with either Ross or Jeff Smith. An out-of-from Devon Petersen will get a difficult game in Jamie Hughes or Raymond Smith as opponents, but Glen Durrant will most definitely lose his second round against O’Connor or Lauby Jr. I don’t expect his awful form to have improved.
Jetze Jan Idsardi: As I mentioned before, Dimitri Van den Bergh and Joe Cullen could face difficult opponents in Martin Schindler and Jim Williams. Van den Bergh has had a slight elbow injury, while Cullen has had some disappointing results on stage in the last months. Glen Durrant is the obvious seed who faces an early elimination: both O’Connor and Lauby should fancy their chances. Devon Petersen, Dave Chisnall and Ian White all could face difficult opponents as well, while all three have been out of form in recent months.
Kevin Barth: Of course Glen Durrant is in big danger as a seeded player. His last win was on July 7th. Also Devon Petersen who has fallen as fast as he rised last year. If Mensur Suljovic takes on Alan Soutar he has to be up for it. A slow start could cost the Austrian, because we all know that some demons sit on his shoulders when he gets to the Ally Pally stage. If Kim Huybrechts gets some stick from the fans in a match with Fallon Sherrock his development from the last months could be attacked. And finally Stephen Bunting could fall against Ross Smith. The TV performances from The Bullet have been a bit disappointing in my
opinion and Smith will be a dangerous opponent.
The return of crowds, Fallon Sherrock and Raymond van Barneveld to Ally Pally this year – but what are you most looking forward to about this World Championship?
Rod Studd: Just setting foot in the Ally Pally again after two years away from the place.
Laura Turner: This is my third World Championships as a commentator, and I’ve experienced it both with and without a crowd. The crowd will be a welcome return this year as the atmosphere they create is unbelievable! But what I really love about the worlds, especially the early rounds, is the introduction of players we don’t normally get to see on the big stage – it’s the shock performances, the upsets, the drama; I love it.
Dan Dawson: A full crowd. With the talent on show we know it’ll be an amazing tournament, but for everyone’s sake I hope we get a full crowd throughout the event. Pray to whatever gods you hold holy that we do. I have already held various dark rituals in front of my Steve Beaton shrine.
Chris Murphy: The whole thing is just so much bigger than anything else. For three weeks it is all that matters, except that bit in the middle with the sprouts and that. I love everything about it so this is actually the most difficult question. But seeing someone lift the trophy in front of a full house might actually be a bit emotional this time around.
Phil Haigh: It’s similar every year, but I love seeing all the different and new faces in the first two rounds and then how it seems to switch to a load of big names playing each other as early as the last 32 straight after the break. Games like Cross vs Gurney, Chisnall v Humphries and Cullen v Whitlock could all pop up immediately after Christmas as things start getting very serious. Love it!
Christopher Kempf: I am looking forward most to the return of the two-clear-legs rule for deciding sets – the suspense and excitement of many matches increases dramatically when the length of a match is open ended. Too many great matches felt cut off arbitrarily due to the time constraints of the matches.
Lendel Faria (FDI): Too much to sum up, but section four could’ve been a World Championship on it’s own. I mean: MvG, Dobey, Chizzy, Humphries, Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis, RvB, Cross and Gurney.
Josh Green: The whole atmosphere of the tournament will be completely different to last year, and I for one can’t wait! As exciting as it is to see Fallon, it just feels like she’s now apart of PDC tournaments, and could once again cause some real damage.
Josh’s Dartistry: Take a wild guess! Joking aside, I am thrilled that deciding set tie-breaks will return from the second round onwards. The tie-breaks have contributed to some of the most memorable moments in World Championship history, and with the fans returning also, that will only add to the spectacle. It should be an incredibly special three weeks!
Dylan Williams (Darts Cymru): For me it’s the fact that 31 nationalities will be represented, surpassing the record set in 2021. I enjoy watching the Worlds to see players I don’t get to watch often and some I’ve never seen play before. The 15th of December can’t come soon enough. It wouldn’t be Christmas without the darts. Strap yourselves in, we’re in for 16 days of tantalising tungsten!
Pim Huberts: I’m most looking forward to the stories of every single participant. Whether they lose in the first round, or produce a long streak of wins, all 96 players are part of history. Most importantly it will be one of the most exciting World Championships ever; one cannot point out an obvious winner which makes it all the more unpredictable.
Jetze Jan Idsardi: The return of individual walk-ons, of course. In all seriousness, Raymond Smith and Ky Smith being the first father-son duo to play in the same World Championship is an amazing story. Imagine if they both won their first game as well? It could definitely happen. Also Paul Lim and Fabian Schmutzler playing in the same WC: Lim is 51 years older than Schmutzler! This only happens in darts, and that’s why we all love it.
Kevin Barth: I’m really looking forward to the comeback of Raymond van Barneveld. Yes, I’ve tipped Rob Cross to reach the final, but Barney will do everything to be prepared and of course he can win more than one match. It’s a quite open tournament and this is also something which makes me really excited. Some new young prospects will make their debut, Fabian Schmutzler and Rusty-Jake Rodriguez are on the top of my list in this category.
Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC