Reigning champion Adrian Lewis arrives at the 2013 Ladbrokes World Darts Championship confident he can become only the second player to win the tournament three times in a row.
Lewis starts his title defence on Friday night with a first-round showdown against Gino Vos, an opponent he openly admits he knows very little about.
Playing at Alexandra Palace in front of a full house, though, seems to get the best out of the 27-year-old and fuels his belief that he can go the distance yet again.
At 12/1, Lewis is the fourth favourite to triumph overall, but he is quietly optimistic about his chances.
“I’ve got a good chance,” said Lewis in an exclusive interview with Ladbrokes.
“My form’s coming back at the right time and I’m still putting the work in, so hopefully everything will click together at the World Championship like it has done the past couple of years.
“Even though I’m the defending champion, I don’t really feel under any pressure.
“I think there was more pressure on me last year after winning my first title, and after going on to retain it, I think it’s just a case of going up there and trying to enjoy it.”
Daily Mirror journalist Mike Walters highlighted the fierce competition that currently exists in the sport in the first of our special package of features to preview the upcoming Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.
And Lewis agrees that a handful of players should be considered as serious threats to the title.
Lewis said: “Phil Taylor will be tough, and I could meet him in the final. I think he’s got a great chance.
“James Wade has come off the boil a bit, but it all depends if he’s in the right frame of mind. If he’s like the James Wade of old, he could be a tough opponent like he was last year.
“You’ve also got Michael van Gerwen, and he’s obviously playing well. Simon Whitlock’s in a bit of form too over the last couple of months. As for Gary Anderson, I think he’ll be up there with a shout.
“Andy Hamilton is always solid, plus he’s had a great year.
“There are also guys coming up like Joe Cullen and maybe Kim Huybrechts, who could have another good run again. It’s such a tough tournament.
“Me and Phil sat watching the draw for the first round come out and we kept saying to each other “blooming hell, I forgot about him” and then “oh yeah, and him” – and these are the players who weren’t seeded!”
Tournament debutant Vos is first up for Lewis and the 22-year-old is priced at 7/1 to cause a shock.
Lewis confessed: “I don’t really know too much about him, but he’s come over from the BDO and I’m sure it’s going to be a tough game.
“With him being Dutch, he’s probably going to be a fast thrower, which will suit my game I suppose.
“I’ve just got to get up there and do my job.”
Read our exclusive chat with Phil Taylor here as he looks ahead to the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.