Leading darts referee Russ Bray is tipping Phil Taylor to return to the top and re-claim the PDC William Hill World Darts Championship.
The Soham-based official, who posses one of the most recognisable voices on the darts circuit, is siding with the darting legend to achieve a 15th PDC World Championship title, and 17th overall, when action starts at the Alexandra Palace tonight.
“This year’s championship has got a real open feel to it and without doubt it is the best one we have had for a few years,” said Bray.
“Adrian Lewis is back with Keith Deller and last time they worked together Adrian won two world titles so he has a great chance.
“James Wade is flying while Gary Anderson is buzzing after winning the Players’ Championship in Minehead last month. He seems to finally have got that monkey off his shoulder at not being able to hit his doubles at the money end.
“You can’t rule out last year’s winner Michael Van Gerwen, but my gut feeling is that Phil Taylor will win it again.
“The thing about Phil is that he has done it so many times before and he is playing well at the moment. With this being played in sets as opposed to legs it will favour him, and the longer it goes on the harder he will be to beat.”
As for the pick of the first round ties the 57 year-old has selected a few that he feels will get the audience going at the iconic London venue from the off.
“Jelle Klassen versus Christian Kist looks an interesting match up as both have hit a bit of form coming into the world championship and I expect there to be fireworks on stage as both are quick players,” said Bray.
“I was in Japan a few weeks ago for their qualifier and Haruki Muramatsu only just made it through, but if he gets past his preliminary match against Boris Koltsov he faces Kevin Painter, and he can’t buy a double at present so there might be an upset there.
“But if I was going to put my money on one upset it would be Benito van de Pas beating Paul Nicholson as he is an exciting player who can turn over Paul.”
Although Bray, who will officiate the second half of the final along with taking charge of the tournament’s opening match between John Part and Keegan Brown, has been part of the PDC set up for more than a decade, he has admitted his excitement levels are still as high as ever.
“As always this is the pinnacle tournament and when you get up on that stage it makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck,” said Bray.
“This tournament promises to be a cracker and I am really excited about it starting.”