The climax of the PDC darts calendar is upon us as the world’s best players, alongside many from around the globe, face off at the Alexandra Palace.
Every year we see players unexpectedly outperform expectations like Raymond Smith’s run to the last 16 just last year or Rob Cross’ incredible title win in 2018.
Here we take a look at five players who could go further than their ranking would suggest they should at this year’s event.
1 – Adrian Lewis (Rank 33)
Only 10 years ago reaching the last 16 of the World Championship would have been classed as a failure for Adrian Lewis, but now a run that far would be seen as continuation of the former champions rise back up the rankings.
Looking comfortable on the stage once again in 2022, the Stoke-on-Trent man currently has his highest annual win percentage since 2018 (64.42%).
A first round tie against Swede Daniel Larsson will favour Lewis as his opponent has only ever won one game in three attempts at the event, followed by a match up against Damon Heta who has been underwhelming in major tournaments this year.
From then on it would almost be a free hit for Lewis who could play Joe Cullen and Michael Smith if he were to progress.
2 – Alan Soutar (Rank 36)
For Alan Soutar, darts is something he enjoys when he isn’t putting out fires in his day job or training guide dogs in his free time.
The Scot has kicked on from his run last year to last 16 in 2022, as he got to the quarter final of the Grand Slam in November – an impressive achievement for a man who hasn’t even completed his first two years on tour since winning his card.
The man from Arbroath kicks off his campaign against debutant Mal Cuming and a win would see him face Daryl Gurney, who isn’t playing to the level he once was.
Soutar usually thrives off the back of having a crowd against him – all for having the audacity to be Scottish – but it could fire him up for a prospective last 32 test against the vastly underrated Danny Noppert.
3 – Mike De Decker (Rank 57)
Yet to make a statement on the PDC Tour, Mike De Decker will be eyeing up this competition to announce himself to the more casual darts viewers.
An impressive second half of 2022 has seen the Belgian add two points onto his yearly average (93.1) and reach the latter stages of Players’ Championship events.
He also boasts being the most efficient player on the entire PDC circuit to take out checkouts between 91 and 95 in the last 12 months at 70.6%.
The 27-year-old faces Canadian Jeff Smith in round one, and would face Mensur Suljovic with a win – a match he would very much fancy against the inconsistent Austrian.
Round three would be where De Decker could create a huge upset as he would most likely face Michael van Gerwen, who has won most of the major titles he’s contested this year.
4 – Beau Greaves (Not ranked)
All the headlines about women in darts in the last few years have been about Fallon Sherrock, but there is a very good chance Beau Greaves name will be on the back pages in December.
The 18-year-old has taken the women’s series by storm as she won eight consecutive events and overtook Fallon Sherrock for the second World Championship spot, behind Lisa Ashton.
Averaging in the 100’s many times, the teenager will be a tough test for any player in the field and will almost certainly have the crowd behind her cheering every treble and double she hits.
A first round tie against William O’Connor in her debut will be a tough test against the steady Irishman who reached the final of a Euro Tour in September.
A second round meeting would be with ‘the German Giant’ Gabriel Clemens who has failed to impress this year.
Reaching the third round would equal the achievement of Fallon Sherrock three years ago.
5 – Sebastian Bialecki (Rank 108)
Maybe a surprising pick, but Sebastian Bialecki finds himself in a very open part of the draw and will be looking for a good run in his debut in North london.
The 19-year-old Polish arrowsmith has played most of his darts on the Development and Challenge Tour this year as he is yet to obtain a tour card.
He announced himself in march at the UK Open as he made the quarter-final before being edged out by William O’Connor 10-9, and also debuted in the World Cup this year alongside countryman Krzysztof Ratajski.
The youngster qualified for the World Championship via an international qualifier and will play former Challenge Tour winner Jim Williams in round one.
A win would set up a meeting with James Wade who has won almost everything there is to win, but isn’t playing the best darts of his career right now and is also hinting he will retire soon.
Round three could see an all-teenage tie against previously mentioned Beau Greaves, in what would be the biggest game of both players careers.