The festive season is synonymous with many things including giving and receiving presents, overindulgence and spending time with the lesser-spotted family members, however, for darts fans, it also represents an opportunity to witness the best players in the world going head-to-head at the iconic Alexandra Palace. The World Darts Championship is the pinnacle of professional darts and remains the most prestigious event on the PDC calendar. 

The tournament has produced a number of first-time winners in recent years with Welshman Gerwyn Price notching his inaugural success at the tournament in 2021. The 36-year old will be hoping to clinch a second successive triumph in North London and has understandably been priced up as the 4/1 favourite in the latest darts odds. However, there are always plenty of unexpected twists and turns along the way, and we’ve picked out four players who have improved considerably over the last twelve months and will fancy their chances of reaching the latter stages of the 2022 PDC World Darts Championship. 

Jose De Sousa

Jose de Sousa has enjoyed a breakthrough couple of seasons on the main tour and he will be quietly fancied to make an impact at the showpiece event in December. He crashed out in the third round last season and will be determined to build on a progressive campaign. His unconventional style and maverick approach to matches has made him a hit with darts fans and he is likely to be roared on by the buoyant Alexandra Palace crowd. The former kitchen fitter won back-to-back PDC titles earlier this year and his high-scoring style is likely to give him every chance of success in the capital. 

Dirk Van Duijvenbode

“The Titan” has been bubbling under the surface for a number of years, however, the powerful Dutchman first made a name for himself at 2021 World Darts Championships when reaching the quarter-final stage. Having qualified via the Pro Tour, he produced a number of sensational performances at Alexandra Palace which included two 170 checkouts. The 2020 World Grand Prix finalist has continued his good form throughout the season and recently beat fellow countryman Michael Van Gerwen at the 25th Player’s Championship. 

Krzysztof Ratajski

2021 has been Krzysztof Ratajski’s most profitable season to date and the 2017 World Masters winner could potentially be a little overpriced for this year’s showpiece event. Having previously failed to make it beyond the third round of the competition, he took a significant step forward twelve months ago by reaching the last eight. Having progressed to the same stage of both the UK Open and World Grand Prix, the 44-year old Polish-born thrower is clearly on an upward curve and he’ll be aiming to build on his semi-final appearance at the 2021 World Matchplay in Blackpool. 

Danny Noppert

Dutchman Danny Noppert is enjoying a standout twelve months and the former BDO player will be hoping to make an impression in North London this year. He recently beat fellow countrymen Michael Van Gerwen and Vincent Van Der Voort to reach the final four of the World Grand Prix, and having also made it to the final eight of the European Championship, he has quickly become accustomed to competing in televised events. Noppert remains 16th in the PDC Order of Merit and recent form would suggest that he will surely improve on his third round exit at last year’s event. 

Although recent winners Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright and Michael Van Gerwen are likely to dominate the betting market once again, there are a number of players who will be aiming to upset the odds and lift the iconic Sid Waddell Trophy on January 3rd 2022.