There’s nothing quite like the excitement I feel on the opening night of the PDC World Darts Championships.
The first tangible sign that Christmas is around the corner, and the start of a fortnight of riveting easy-to-watch TV it is probably one of my highlights of the sporting calendar (of course it’s a sport!)
Since I first got into watching the PDC on Sky in around 2004, the game has enjoyed a boom period under the stewardship of Barry Hearn and I have become a hooked armchair fan with the world championships the highlight of the year on Sky Sports (not the crappy inferior BDO one they show on the BBC in the new year).
A lot of people like to snigger at darts with, in my view, often with no less than a large amount of snobbery. Their loss.
What makes it so damn watchable? Darts has two strengths – its simplicity and fast pace.
It’s easy to follow and the rhythm and entertainment of a quality game is absorbing.
Add to that no shortage of razzmatazz with the MC’s introductions, walk-ons, players’ nicknames (not sure about James Wilson’s new ‘Lethal Biscuit’ moniker – only in darts!), the music, the rather stunning walk-on girls, the personalities and not to mention the now iconic darts tune played at the break (Planet Funk Chase The Sun).
And as a ‘St Helenian’ there are a couple (three if you count Liverpudlian import Stephen Bunting) hometown interests to cheer on; Dave ‘Chizzy’ Chisnall and Michael Smith.
Who’s gonna win it the? It’s hard to look past the relentless odds-on favourite Michael van Gerwen who started well last night. Gary Anderson can trouble him but I think it is the Dutchman’s to lose.
Of course it’s the great Phil Taylor’s last championship of course – but I suspect a 17th tile may be beyond him now, although I’m reluctant to ever fully write him off.
Outside shouts – Serbian-born Mensur Suljovic has had a great year and may do well and it would be great to see crowd favourite Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright progress far again.