In an exclusive interview with LuckyBlock.com, former PDC Chairman Barry Hearn talks about his predictions for the upcoming PDC World Darts Championships.
Hearn, who revolutionised darts in the 1990s, named four players he thinks have a shot at glory at taking Michael Smith’s title at Alexandra Palace.
MvG and Luke Humphries rightfully favourites
Luke Humphries beat Michael Van Gerwen 11-9 in a thrilling final at the 2023 Players Championship recently and Hearn thinks they are the two top players to beat at Ally Pally this year;
Barry Hearn: “It favours the top players, the ones who have experience, the ones who hold their nerve. Michael Van Gerwen I think will always definitely be the favourite – for big events he pulls out something special. Luke Humphries, now he’s got the monkey off his back having won the World Grand Prix – he’s suddenly what we call the big stage player.”
Dark Horse Gary Anderson in fine form
Gary Anderson claims he is playing his best darts since winning his two PDC World Darts Championship titles and has his sights set on overtaking fellow Scots Jock Wilson and Peter Wright to become a three-time world champion;
Barry Hearn: “Gary Anderson’s come from nowhere. He’s got a fishing lake, he leads a nice life. These last six months he’s really discovered his love of darts, and he has the stage experience but he’s still going to be a massive price. So I would look at Gary Anderson. He’s a strange type of competitor as far as he gives the impression that he doesn’t really care.
“There’s nothing quite like that rush of adrenaline when you’re competing at the sharp end. I think he’s re-discovered that recently. He won two Pro Tour events in a short space of time recently. The only danger for Gary, is the fact that the tournament takes 17 days. On a one day event, he would be a good price for me – anything over 16/1. However, it’s the mental stamina that is really crucial.”
Dangerous Josh Rock ready to shine
Josh Rock, 22, has made waves in the world of darts since winning the 2022 PDC World Youth Championship and Hearn reckons the Northern Irishman could be on the verge of doing something special at the Palace;
Barry Hearn: “Someone like Josh Rock is also an intriguing prospect. His life has changed in 12 months, he was working at a chicken factory in Belfast. But now he’s earned, I’m going to guess somewhere around £300,000 this year. Not bad, is it? He’s going to be dangerous, but can he keep that hot form?
“Does he feel the nerves a bit more because of the enormity of the task ahead of him? Half a million to the winner, Premier League, life-changing, seeded player, endorsements. He suddenly becomes a million-pound-a-year player or potentially even more. That sometimes can be a negative when they see the winning line.”