With the 2016 PDC World Darts Championships just ten days away, I assess ten of the leading contenders for this year’s title. I begin by talking about a man still searching for his maiden PDC major crown. Can he break his duck by winning the big one?
10. Dave Chisnall
Dave Chisnall has slipped out of the World’s Top 10 over recent months and is seeded 13th for this year’s World Championships; however his ranking doesn’t provide an accurate reflection of his current form.
Chisnall was defending a sizeable chunk of prize money from reaching the World Grand-Prix final two years ago, hence his slide down the Order of Merit.
However, he has performed consistently well on the big stage this year and is a credible contender for this year’s tournament.
His most impressive performance of 2015 came in the Premier League, where he finished in second position in the league phase, just one point behind Michael van Gerwen.
Chizzy performed at a consistently high-level throughout the competition and to finish second in a competition featuring ten of the World’s best players is testament to his class. He produced nine 100+ averages in 16 Premier League matches, and will have to replicate such form at Alexandra Palace.
The St Helen’s star has also reached the quarter-finals of the World Matchplay, Players Championship Finals and the Unibet Masters in 2015, but he was beaten by van Gerwen on two of those three occasions, losing to Phil Taylor in the Matchplay quarters.
Dave always performs well against Michael; their matches are predominantly tight affairs, although the Dutchman always manages to produce moments of brilliance in the decisive moments.
Chisnall may have to overcome MvG if he is to claim World Championship glory, as the pair could potentially meet in the semi-finals. Nevertheless, Chisnall has an extremely tough route to overcome before he can even contemplate another showdown with the ‘Green Machine’.
Chizzy will face the enigmatic Austrian, Rowby-John Rodriguez in the opening round at Ally Pally. Rodriguez is an indisputable talent who certainly doesn’t lack self-belief.
Consistency can be an issue for ‘Little-John’, although he has claimed a number of high-profile scalps on the Pro Tour this year, so he certainly won’t be phased by the prospect of facing Chisnall.
Chisnall could face either Justin Pipe or Christian Kist in round-two, and if he were to progress beyond this stage, the obstacles of World Number 4 Peter Wright, and then Two-Time World Champion Adrian Lewis would lie in wait.
Dave has struggled in recent World Championship campaigns. He was beaten by Benito van de Pas in the second round of last year’s tournament, whilst he suffered a first-round exit in 2014, losing to Scotland’s John Henderson in a deciding set.
He will be desperate to avoid another early exit in 2016, although fortunately for Chizzy fans, he isn’t the sort of character to dwell on past performances or records.
Chisnall, a former Lakeside finalist, has significantly improved his doubling over the last 18 months and his record in last-leg deciders in 2015 is impeccable, which demonstrates that he is more composed and level-headed in tense situations.
However, the 35-year-old seems to have one indifferent match a tournament in terms of his doubling, which ultimately costs him.
If he produces that type of performance against a player of the calibre of Wright, Lewis or van Gerwen, he will be ruthlessly punished. Yet, at odds of 28/1 with title-sponsor William Hill, Chisnall is a dangerous proposition given his prodigious talent.