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  1. Darts

World Darts Championship: The story so far

There were 96 that started and now only 32 remain in the battle to be crowned winner of this year's PDC World Championship, and all the big guns are still standing tall.

James Wade, Daryl Gurney and Callan Rydz are the only three seeds to have been dumped out of the competition as the World Darts Championship takes a three-day break for Christmas.

That means there are plenty of high-quality third-round matches to look forward to, with the clash between world number one Gerwyn Price and resurgent five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld arguably the pick of the bunch.

Michael van Gerwen has recorded the highest tournament average so far with his 101.84 in a 3-0 win over Lewy Williams, and he is 9/4 to claim his fourth world title.

Last year's runner-up Michael Smith, who defeated Nathan Rafferty 3-0 with an average of 96.62, is 11/2 to go one better, while 2021 victor Price is 13/2.

Defending champion Peter Wright is a 10/1 chance, with emerging talents Josh Rock (14/1) and Luke Humphries (14/1) coming next in the betting.

Mighty Mike lays down a marker

What: World Darts Championship
Where: Alexandra Palace, London
When: 20:45, Wednesday 28th December
How to watch: Sky Sports
Odds: Michael van Gerwen 1/12, Mensur Suljovic 7/1

After a stellar year, which has featured title triumphs in the Premier League, World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and Players Championship Finals, many felt Van Gerwen was the man to beat at Alexandra Palace.

And on the evidence of his first-round win over Welsh youngster Williams, that could be the case.

Mighty Mike is one of only three players so far to have recorded over a 100 average, with one of his winning sets coming in just 36 darts.

There is no doubt that toughest tests are to come for the three-time world champion but it is unlikely that 30th seed Mensur Suljovic has the scoring power to stop him.

Suljovic averaged just 88.65 in beating Mike De Decker 3-0 in round two and he has lost his last six matches against MvG, with some heavy defeats highlighting the gulf in class.

Van Gerwen is 1/12 for victory and 5/4 to record a 4-0 Win.

Price and Barney set to put on a show

What: World Darts Championship
Where: Alexandra Palace, London
When: 20:15, Tuesday 27th December
How to watch: Sky Sports
Odds: Gerwyn Price 4/11, Raymond van Barneveld 11/5

Price survived a mini-scare as he defeated Luke Woodhouse 3-1 in round two and the Welshman should be preparing himself for another tough tungsten tussle against a rejuvenated Van Barneveld.

Barney twice had Price's measure at the Grand Slam of Darts in November, as he beat him in the group-stage before recovering from 8-3 down to win 16-13 and book his ticket in the semi-final.

It wasn't to be for the Dutchman against Michael Smith in that last-four duel but it highlighted that he still has plenty to offer the game despite being 55 years of age.

Price will be desperate for some revenge but a raucous crowd could be a big hindrance to the Welshman.

The Iceman gets little love from the Alexandra Palace faithful while Barney is a crowd favourite, so this is effectively a home match for the seasoned Dutchman.

Even so, Van Barneveld's 3-1 win over Ryan Meikle in round two, which featured an average of 95.18, shows he is playing well enough to spring a surprise.

The crowd factor is just an added bonus for Barney backers and at 11/5 he could represent a touch of value.

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Rock tasked with hardest test yet

What: World Darts Championship
Where: Alexandra Palace, London
When: 13:45, Tuesday 27th December
How to watch: Sky Sports
Odds: Nathan Aspinall 13/10, Josh Rock 8/13

Rock has had an outstanding first year on the PDC Tour and, despite his inexperience, the Northern Irishman is as short as 14/1 to be crowned world champion on his debut.

The Northern Irishman showed plenty of class as he fired in 13 140s on his way to a 3-0 whitewash of Rydz, who was a quarter-finalist last year, in round two.

The reward for that win is a date with two-time semi-finalist Nathan Aspinall, who has looked back to his best this year after runner-up efforts at the World Grand Prix and Grand Slam of Darts.

This promises to be a belter as the Asp also looked in decent shape in his opening game, averaging 97.80 in a 3-1 win over Boris Krcmar.

Despite that performance, it is Rock that is 8/13 to get one over the world number 10.

There is no doubting that the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland has the potential to go all the way but this year may be too soon in his development, which makes Aspinall the value play at 13/10.

Anderson hoping to roll back the years

What: World Darts Championship
Where: Alexandra Palace, London
When: 14:45, Wednesday 28th December
How to watch: Sky Sports
Odds: Gary Anderson 4/5, Chris Dobey 1/1

There is something about the Alexandra Palace stage that brings out the best in Gary Anderson, who is a two-time champion and a three-time runner-up.

Despite having had a quiet few seasons on the PDC Tour, the Flying Scotsman has still made at least the semi-final stage in three of the last four years.

Anderson is 40/1 to be crowned champion and while that may be asking too much, he certainly looks a strong bet at 4/5 to overcome the third-round challenge of Chris Dobey.

The world number 11 averaged 96.39 in a 3-1 win over Madars Razma in his opening assignment and a repeat performance could be enough to see off his Geordie opponent.

Dobey was a 3-0 winner over Martijn Kleermaker first time up but he averaged only 86.74 and profited from a poor performance from his Dutch rival.

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