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World Darts Championship: Steve Davies' betting tips

Christmas is coming and in the world of sport that can mean only one thing, the start of the PDC World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace.

For darts fans it's quite simply their favourite time of the year with tons of terrific tungsten action to savour and a stack of world-class stars ready to light up the stage.

Racing Post tipster Steve Davies has seen his share of magic moments over three decades and has shared his outright thoughts on this year's star-studded feast.

What: PDC World Darts Championship
Where: Alexandra Palace, London
When: December 15th - January 3rd 2023
How to watch: Sky Sports
Odds: Michael van Gerwen 5/2, Gerwyn Price 6/1, Michael Smith 15/2, Peter Wright 10/1, Luke Humphries 14/1

Case for MVG to lift his fourth trophy

Michael van Gerwen is 5/2 to win PDC World Championship for a fourth time this year, world No.1 Gerwyn Price is 6/1, followed by recent Grand Slam champion Michael Smith at 15/2 and Peter Wright - the defending champion - at 10/1.

All four are top, top players. Three of that quartet have lifted the trophy before; Smith narrowly missed out 12 months ago.

Plenty of punters can't see past those four and you get a sense that most pundits have it between Van Gerwen and Price.

Since John Part's against-the-odds triumph in 2008, only one player outside of the world's top seven has ever been victorious, Rob Cross five years ago. The cream rises to the top at the Palace and there is nothing to suggest this year will be any different.

Certainly Van Gerwen comes into it on a high having won the last TV event, the Players Championship Finals, for a seventh time.

He has also won the holy trinity of Premier League, Matchplay and Grand Prix in 2022 and the last time he did that he went on to be crowned world champion six years ago.

Smith poised to make it third time lucky

However, also in outstanding form is Smith, twice a beaten finalist at Ally Pally and taken to make it third time lucky this year.

It's been a crunch year for serial runner-up Smith, a man with one of the most joyous throws in the game, but with a mental block when it comes to getting over the line.

I still wouldn't be at all surprised to see the top four seeds make the semis, though Wright has off-oche issues which - he hopes - won't flare up over the next couple of weeks, while Price was once again undone by the crowd during last year's quarter-final loss to Smith.

The hostility visibly got to him and while this panto villain's inter-reaction with English crowds is better than it was, remember his sole world crown was worn when the Palace was empty.

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Rock a solid pick for some, but is he over-rated?

Next best in the betting is Luke Humphries at 14/1, just ahead of former Premier League winner Jonny Clayton and rising star Josh Rock.

Humphries makes sense. He continues to make strides and is a three-time quarter-finalist.

Rock, on the other hand, is less easy to explain away at 16/1. The 21-year-old from Northern Ireland has been playing the Development Tour - very successfully - though he has looked a class act on his forays on to the main tour.

He pinged a nine-darter in losing to Van Gerwen at the Grand Slam, averaged 104 winning the World Youth title, but this is another step up again. He's not seeded, it's his debut and it's anyone's guess how he deals with the occasion.

Belgian ace can be a quarter master

Rock is only 9/2 to win his quarter, the third quarter, which would mean beating Jose Justicia, Callan Rydz and, if the seedings work out, Nathan Aspinall, Jonny Clayton and Peter Wright.

That's an enormous ask for a novice kid, no matter how good he is.

Everyone will have their own idea of quarter winners. As I say, the big four aren't that easy to oppose, but one player who does have the class and the pedigree to spring a minor upset in Rock's quarter is Dimitri van den Bergh.

Under the radar these days but still more than capable of having a run and landing To Win Quarter odds of 6/1.

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