On Friday, December 15, the PDC World Darts Championship gets underway at the Alexandra Palace. Michael Smith starts the tournament as the defending champion after beating Michael van Gerwen 7-4 in an epic final last time around.
Wayne Mardle, a four-time semifinalist at the PDC World Darts Championship and current analyst for Sky Sports, was standing next to Smith when the draw was made. "He was a little nervy," Mardle told Sky Sports. "I think it's a decent enough draw for him (Kevin Doets or Stowe Buntz). We know what Buntz has done recently on TV but Doets has actually been playing some of the best darts of his life. Smith will have to be on his game, but we know if is on his game what happens. He hits nine-darters and wins world titles."
Draw revealed for the 2024 World Darts Championship: Michael Smith could begin defence of his crown against Grand Slam revelation Stowe Buntz
Still, Mardle sees difficulties for several of the top seeds. "Even Gerwyn Price with Connor Scutt or Krzysztof Kciuk, two very good players. Dirk van Duijvenbode, we know he's been struggling so Keegan Brown or Boris Krcmar will fancying their chances."
"There's a lot there could go either way," assesses 'Hawaii 501'. Top favourite Luke Humphries however does have a nice draw, according to Mardle. "Lee Evans and Sandro Eric Sosing have had a 'mare!" Mardle laughs. "But the thing is, if you beat a high seed, you then take their seeding. So straight away your draw can become pretty favourable."