The Machine is ticking along nicely as winter of darts approaches

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The darts season is in full flow, and with a bumper winter of arrows in store, we need to ask ourselves, is the old guard there for the taking?

Phil Taylor has shown that he is far from unbeatable, while Michael van Gerwen has seen himself brought down a peg or two already this season.

And while the two mentioned players still sit atop the darts rankings, we take a look at a trio of arrowsmiths that could be set for big seasons, not least when the World Championships come round in December.

James Wade – 10/1

The last few months have seen the Aldershot man play some of the best darts of his career.

He was the first one to admit that he felt guilty for the way he came back from 9-2 down to beat Mervyn King in the final of the Masters last week, but his comeback was impressive nonetheless, and his consistency in his semi-final win over Phil Taylor was top-notch.

Before that victory, ‘The Machine’ had lifted the Gibraltar Darts Trophy and a Players Championship event in the most recent weeks.

He has also reached the final in the World Grand Prix, hitting a nine-darter en route and could be set for a very merry Christmas at the Ally Pally.

Stephen Bunting- 20/1

The gap in quality between the BDO and PDC has looked ever-growing in the last few years, but ‘The Bullet’ has gone some way to nullifying that void, by taking that jump with aplomb.

The 2014 BDO World Champion is yet to land a ranking title in the PDC, but has already reached the semi-finals in the European Championships, World Grand Prix and German Darts Masters.

A well deserved victory over Phil Taylor in the second round of the Euros is probably his biggest scalp to date, but there looks plenty more to come from the man from Liverpool.

Benito van de Pas – 150/1

What is it with the Dutch and producing exceptional young darts challengers?

The 21-year-old has held his own since progressing from the junior tour. The highlight so far has to be when he reached the last-16 in the Gibraltar Darts Trophy, a 6-5 victory over Michael van Gerwen wasn’t too shabby either.

This year’s tournament will probably come too soon for him, but having taken Peter Wright and James Wade the full distance this season, he could be serving it up to the big boys sometime in the not too distant future.

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.