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World Darts Championship: Luke Humphries tipped for glory by Wayne Mardle

Grand Slam of Darts winner Luke Humphries is seeded third for the World Darts Championship; Michael Smith will begin his title defence against Kevin Doets or Stowe Buntz; watch the World Darts Championship from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 - live on Sky Sports

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Wayne Mardle breaks down the World Darts Championship draw and picks out the tough games for the seeded players

Ahead of the 2024 World Darts Championship, Sky Sports' Wayne Mardle makes his pick to win it, takes a closer look at defending-champion Michael Smith's draw and assesses some of the other contenders...

This World Darts Championship could supersede last year.

The standard of play we've seen this year, in all of the events, it all builds to this.

It's now all about the Worlds. Starting on the 15th of December, for those two and a bit weeks, it's going to be absolute darting carnage. I'm just so looking forward to it.

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Wayne Mardle picks out the names he believes could perform well at the World Darts Championships, and adds that some players will be playing for their careers

'Smith was nervy during draw'

I was standing near Michael Smith when the draw was being pulled out and he was a little nervy, I will say that.

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Current WDC champion Michael Smith says he doesn't have anything to prove as he defends his title at Ally Pally

I think it's a decent enough draw for him. We know what Stowe Buntz has been doing on TV, but Kevin Doets has also actually been playing some of the best darts of his life.

And the thing is, if you if you beat a high seed, you take their seeding, so straight away your draw can become pretty favourable. That's why when you when a top seed gets beat, it's like 'wow, right, we've all got chances now'.

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Michael will have to be on his game, but we know what happens when he is on his game, carnage ensues, he hits nine-darters and wins world titles.

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Take a look at how the world watched on as Michael Smith hit a nine-darter in the 2023 World Championship Final and Wayne Mardle lost his voice!

'Cool Hand Luke' can do no wrong

It's an intriguing intriguing draw.

There are so many that are capable of winning. Joe Cullen, Nathan Aspinall, Dave Chisnell - these are all players that are not currently on the lips in terms of being a world champion.

There's also the likes of Luke Littler, who we saw win the world youth crown, he is someone in the draw you don't want to mess with. He's not scarred. He's is someone who can just go out there, turn you over like 'this is just what I do'.

It all depends on who goes bang. If Michael Smith goes bang again, he wins. Same with Michael van Gerwen.

Luke Humphries during Day Six of the 2023 World Grand Prix at the Morningside Arena, Leicester on Saturday 7th October 2023.
Image: Luke Humphries has been on an unprecedented run of form leading into the World Darts Championship

But, for me, it's all about Luke Humphries, 'Cool Hand'. He can't do anything wrong at the minute.

I like either Gary Anderson or Gerwyn Price coming from that particular part of the draw as well.

But I've been right in selecting Luke Humphries for the last couple of months, and I'm not going to jump ship now.

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Phil Taylor says he has mixed feelings about retiring from darts

World Darts Championship Draw

First quarter
(1) Michael Smith vs Kevin Doets or Stowe Buntz
(32) Madars Razma vs Mike De Decker or Dragutin Horvat
(16) Ross Smith vs Niels Zonneveld or Darren Webster
(17) Chris Dobey vs William O'Connor or Bhav Patel
(8) Rob Cross vs Mario Vandenbogaerde or Thibault Tricole
(25) Jose de Sousa vs Richie Edhouse or Jeffrey De Graaf
(9) Jonny Clayton vs Steve Lennon or Owen Bates
(24) Krzysztof Ratajski vs Jamie Hughes or David Cameron

Second quarter
(4) Peter Wright vs Jim Williams or Norman Madhoo
(29) Raymond van Barneveld vs Radek Szaganski or Marko Kantele
(13) James Wade vs Matt Campbell or Lourence Ilagan
(20) Andrew Gilding vs Christian Kist or Luke Littler
(5) Gerwyn Price vs Connor Scutt or Krzysztof Kciuk
(28) Brendan Dolan vs Mickey Mansell or Xiaochen Zong
(12) Dirk van Duijvenbode vs Keegan Brown or Boris Krcmar
(21) Gary Anderson vs Simon Whitlock or Paolo Nebrida

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Fallon Sherrock discusses being drawn against Jermaine Wattimena at the WDC and explains why there's less pressure on her now

Third quarter
(2) Michael van Gerwen vs Keane Barry or Reynaldo Rivera
(31) Kim Huybrechts vs Richard Veenstra or Ben Robb
(15) Dimitri van den Bergh vs Dylan Slevin or Florian Hempel
(18) Stephen Bunting vs Ryan Joyce or Alex Spellman
(7) Danny Noppert vs Scott Williams or Haruki Muramatsu
(26) Martin Schindler vs Jermaine Wattimena or Fallon Sherrock
(10) Damon Heta vs Martin Lukeman or Haupai Puha
(23) Josh Rock vs Luke Woodhouse or Berry Van Peer

Fourth quarter
(3) Luke Humphries vs Lee Evans or Sandro Eric Sosing
(30) Callan Rydz vs Ricardo Pietreczko or Mikuru Suzuki
(14) Joe Cullen vs Jules van Dongen or Darren Penhall
(19) Ryan Searle vs Ian White or Tomoya Goto
(6) Nathan Aspinall vs Ricky Evans or Simon Adams
(27) Daryl Gurney vs Steve Beaton or Wessel Nijman
(11) Dave Chisnall vs Cameron Menzies or Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
(22) Gabriel Clemens vs Gian Van Veen or Man Lok Leung

The schedule of play will be confirmed in due course.

When is the World Darts Championship?

The sport's biggest event will be held from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 as 96 players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace.

You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

Watch the World Darts Championship from December 15, 2023 to January 3, 2024 - live on Sky Sports. Stream your favourite sports and more with NOW

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