Christmas is time to celebrate and unwind with loved ones, Christmas is time to wrap up warm and cosy, Christmas is time to stand up if you love the darts.
Or so goes one of the chants which resonates annually for two weeks around London’s Alexandra Palace. It’s World Championship time.
Gary Anderson aims to defend his title, Michael van Gerwen looks to put the icing on a mega successful 2015 cake, and Phil Taylor heads to Ally Pally knowing that if he doesn’t lift the trophy this time around, he’ll have entered his longest streak in his entire career without a world crown.
That’s before you get around to Adrian Lewis, Raymond van Barneveld and a host of other big names taking to the oche.
But the World Championship also offers a great platform for some up and comers to have a shot at the big time.
Here’s a rundown of five names you might not have come across before, but you may well do soon…
Jeffrey de Zwann
One of a host of Dutch entrants this year – emphasising the ‘Barney Boom’ affect of the late 1990s, 19-year-old Jeffrey de Zwann is making his Ally Pally debut.
De Zwann – nicknamed the Black Cobra – claimed the World Youth Masters in 2012, reached the Last 16 at the Senior event last year and is already ranked 62 in the world.
Throw in wins over Phil Taylor and Stephen Bunting, and a nine-dart finish this year, and First Round opponent Michael Smith will have reason to be concerned.
Dimitri van den Bergh
Belgian Dimitri van den Bergh topped the 2014 Youth Tour Order of Merit to bag himself a two-year card on the main PDC calendar.
The 21-year-old – nicknamed Dreammaker – claimed two Development Tour titles this year and reached the last 16 at the Players Championship.
The Antwerp man makes his Ally Pally bow against former quarter-finalist Kevin White.
Dutchman Jermain Wattimena won the first ever tournament he played at the 2008 Malta Open, and followed that up with a run to the last 24 at the BDO World Masters.
It’s been a bit quiet for the 27-year-old since then but he reached a Preliminary Round match for the PDC World this time last year, only for three missed darts for the match to delay his Ally Pally debut.
He has no such problems this time though, and has a very winnable tie against Austrian Mensur Suljovic – first round casualty in his last three appearances.
Dirk van Duijvenbode
The 23-year-old Dutchman Dirk van Duijvenbode has enjoyed arguably his finest year of his short career.
Nicknamed Titan, Van Duijvenbode hit a nine-dart finish in a Development Tour match this year.
He faces a titanic First Round clash however, against the daddy of all Dutch darts, Raymond van Barneveld. Some Ally Pally welcome that is.
Austria’s Rowby-John Rodriguez made this stage last year but came up against an in-form Barney and went down 3-0.
The 21-year-old has taken a Development Tour title this year in addition to victories over Kim Huybrecths and Christian Kist.
Rodriguez – nicknamed Little John – has a similarly tough opening tie at Ally Pally this year against Dave Chisnall.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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