WHILE some sports wind down over the Christmas vacation, many have become very much part of the holiday season.
One of those is darts, a game most Americans only come across in their local bar on a night out with friends. But it’s a very serious sport with a lucrative professional tour, and this month sees the start of the world championships in London, with players from across the world descending on the Alexandra Palace in England’s capital city.
Among those dreaming of glory – the first prize is $650,000 – is one young man flying the US flag, Daniel Lauby Jr from Indiana.
Son of professional player Dan Lauby Snr, the 28-year-old will face world no.42 William O’Connor from Ireland in his opening game later this month, with Lauby the outsider for the clash at 13/8 (+162.5) – bet $8 using bet365 promo code on the US star and get $21 back if he beats the Irishman.
If you fancy the man from Terre Haute to go all the way and lift the world title you can get odds of 1,000/1 (+100,000) for him to do just that, as unlikely as that may appear to be.
It will be Lauby’s second tilt at the world championships, last year he lost narrowly 3-2 in the first round to Ryan Searle, and he’ll be hoping to at least reach the second round. If he does, he will face the 24th seed, Glen Durrant, of England.
At the top of the betting is reigning champion Gerwyn Price, the Welsh star is 4/1 (+400) to claim back-to-back titles. Dutch wizard Michael van Gerwen is 9/2 (+450), the world no.3 has won the world title on three occasions, the last time in 2019.
Canadians Matt Campbell, Jeff Smith, both 500/1 (+50,000), and John Norman Jr, 1000/1 (+100,000), make up the North American contingent with all aiming to at least match the exploits of Danny ‘The Gambler’ Baggish from the last world championships.
The Guam-born Florida resident produced one of the results of the whole tournament, beating two-time world champion Adrian Lewis in round two before falling to Durrant, the player Lauby will face if he wins his first-round clash.
Baggish, who came to prominence by winning the North American championship in Las Vegas in 2019, went on to claim a PDC, Professional Darts Corporation, tour card – the first American to do so – and has spent a large proportion of this year playing in England and around Europe.
Another interesting competitor in this year’s championships is the veteran Paul Lim, the 67-year-old very much a name synonymous with the game of darts. While he now represents Singapore, Lim was flying under the US flag when he produced a moment of brilliance that is still remembered by many in the game.
In 1990 he was up against Ireland’s Jack McKenna in the world championships, Lim having just won the first set. He then produced the perfect leg of darts – a nine-dart finish – to become the first player to achieve the feat in the world championships. His prize of almost $70,000 was twice as much as Phil Taylor received for winning the tournament.
The history of North American stars in the world championship is a long one, with Canadian John Part the most successful competitor from this side of the Atlantic. The son of Toronto won the world title on three occasions – most recently in 2008 – and in 2017 he was inducted into the PDC Hall of Fame.
It 2001 he was thrashed 7-0 in his first PDC final by legend of the game, Phil Taylor, before gaining his revenge two years later in an epic clash. He started superbly to take a 4-1 lead in sets before Taylor fought back and went ahead 5-4, Part responding to regain the advantage. Taylor came back again but he couldn’t prevent the Canadian claiming the final set to win a second world crown, his first in the PDC.