2018/19 PDC World Darts Championship Preview: 3 Surprise Packages To Make Their Mark At The Alexandra Palace
We are less than two weeks away from the 2018/19 William Hill World Darts Championship getting under way at the Alexandra Palace and all 96 players will be fine-tuning their game ahead of the showpiece event of the year.
However, while the usual protagonists will be fancied to fight it out for the coveted Sid Waddell Trophy on January 1 there are sure to be some surprise packages that make a name for themselves in the capital and we pick out THREE players that can cause some shocks along the way.
Welshman Jamie Lewis was relatively unknown outside of darting circles last season, but the 27-year-old launched himself into the semi-finals of the World Darts Championship before he was beaten 6-1 by Phil Taylor in the final four.
Now, a year on Lewis will head to the Ally Pally with fond memories and while he has struggled to kick on from his fine World Championship heroics last season a return to the venue could see him sparkle once again. As big as 250/1 to lift the title, Lewis should be able to come through his first round tie against the winner of Martin Schindler and Cody Harris and then could line up against Daryl Gurney, who is fresh from a Players Championships success, but has sometimes struggled at the Worlds, so could be vulnerable to a level-headed Lewis.
Jeffrey de Zwaan
With little form to shout about at the World Darts Championship, Jeffrey de Zwaan is unsurprisingly as big as 125/1 for the title, but the Dutch star has shown when beating Michael van Gerwen twice this season - including a memorable first round success over the World Championship favourite in the World Matchplay - (see video below) that he has the qualities to cause a stir.
He kicked on from his defeat of van Gerwen by getting the semi-finals of the World Matchplay this year, and if he can recapture that form then he could give reigning champion Rob Cross a headache in their second round clash, providing de Zwaan defeats Nitin Kumar in the first match of the tournament.
Now into his 40s, Polish thrower Krzysztof Ratajski is starting to show his qualities on the oche as his finest performances in major events have come in the last 18 months and he could be one that excels in this year's Worlds and has to be watched at odds over 200/1 to win the title.
Ratajski should be able to get the better of Seigo Asada in his first round match, but will face a tough test against James Wade in the second round, but a shorter format may play into his hands as Wade can sometimes take a bit of time to get going and if Ratajski can fly out of the traps then he could shock Wade.