PDC World Darts Championship: Five players to keep an eye on at Alexandra Palace

Christmas is officially around the corner with the PDC World Darts Championship starting at Alexandra Palace on Thursday.

Two-and-a-half weeks of darts awaits before the champion is crowned at the famous venue on January 3.

Here, the Planet Sport looks at five competitors to keep an eye on during the tournament.

Michael van Gerwen

The three-time champion is the clear favourite as he arrives at the tournament trying to cap off what has been a brilliant year. He has won the Premier League, Matchplay, Grand Prix and the Players Championship and is desperate to claim a fourth world title and first in three years. He is the in-form player and also has a cause as he was forced to withdraw from last year's tournament due to Covid.

Beau Greaves

The teenage sensation will make history as she becomes the youngest female to play in the World Championship. Aged just 18, Greaves will have real hopes of causing a storm as she has had an incredible run of form in the second half of the year, winning an incredible 52 matches in a row. That form saw her pip Fallon Sherrock to a qualifying spot, though the women's trailblazer has since been handed a place in the tournament. Several of the men's players, including defending champion Peter Wright, have said they want to avoid her in the draw.

Michael Smith

After being the nearly man so many times, Smith finally landed his first televised tournament when he won the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton last month. That victory, where he hammered Nathan Aspinall in the final, came after eight successive final defeats, including at last year's World Championship, where Wright came from behind to win. That one hurt 'Bully Boy' and now the monkey is off his back, he will be hoping that he makes up for last year's heartache.

Josh Rock

Although a shot at the title looks an outside bet, the 21-year-old has the possibility to cause fireworks. He has burst onto the scene this year and cemented his position as the future of the sport when he produced a stunning nine-darter in the Grand Slam against Van Gerwen. The Northern Irishman has undoubted star talent and no one will want to face him.

Luke Humphries

Not many people will be looking at Humphries as a likely title bet, but he could surprise a few after an excellent year. The 27-year-old has been one of the most consistent players on tour this year as he followed up last year's run to the World Championship quarter-final with semi-final appearances in the Grand Slam of Darts and Players Championships.

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