Top-level professional darts has graduated so far from its origins in confined smoke-filled venues that rather than the adverse effects on the respiratory system, the stresses on the game’s finest arrow slingers these days concern the number of air miles clocked up and media commitments.
Just ask Michael van Gerwen. MVG is a darting phenomenon and, having just won his sixth tournament from eight consecutive final appearances with the European Grand Prix title, the Dutchman is impossible to overlook as the favourite to be crowned as the next world champion.
We make Van Gerwen our 11/10 market leader for the 2017 edition of the PDC World Championship, however there seems more sense backing him at 8/11 for the imminent Champions League of Darts over the Alexandre Palace spectacle.
The one glaring anomaly on Mighty Mike’s sparkling CV is the presence of just one World Championship crown, won back in 2014, while he has not even made the final the past two years.
Scientific explanations aren’t the easiest to come by, though there is certainly a case to be made that by the time the marathon-formatted event comes around to cap off a gruelling season, MVG is simply strung out.
Unlike some of his big rivals, the world number one plays in many of the smaller events on the now globalised schedule, perhaps unnecessarily exposing himself to the effects of burnout.
For instance, the Dutchman has already appeared in 10 more tournaments than Gary Anderson, the winner of the past two world championships.
There is also the theory that the longer sets format at Ally Pally works against the adrenaline-fuelled arrows that MVG thrives on in shorter events.
After already surpassing last season’s best of 16 tournament wins as early as September, it feels as if Van Gerwen’s schedule will remained cluttered as the darting showpiece comes into view.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing