It might now be considered as the lesser of the two World Championships, but the biggest tournament in BDO is the longest running professional darts tournament out there it and remains a must win for all players on the circuit.
The 29th staging of the tournament gets underway at Lakeside in Frimley Green on Saturday afternoon and Scott Waites will be going all out to defend the title he won 12 months ago.
However it is BDO world number one Stephen Bunting that goes into the event as the pre-tournament favourite with the bookies, following a strong 2013 campaign.
Bunting took an early tumble in last year’s World Championship after losing unexpectedly to Darryl Fitton 4-2 in the second round of last year’s tournament. But surely that shock defeat 12 months ago will spur the Liverpudlian on for greater success in this year’s tournament.
‘The Bullet’ successfully defended his World Masters title back in October, not dropping a set in the whole tournament. The run included a 7-0 whitewashing of second seed James Wilson in the final.
He’s currently priced at 9/4 to be the tournament winner by a number of outlets including Totesport, after picking up numerous other titles last year.
Defending champ Waites will also be keen on having another good run in the competition this season.
The Halifax man, who defeated Tony O’Shea 7-1 in the final last year, hasn’t backed up last year’s world title with strong runs in any of the BDO’s other leading events; his best finish coming in the World Masters where he reached the quarter-finals.
Sportingbet currently offer the best price on Waites successfully defending the World Championship at 7/2.
Another player who could pose a threat next week is 41-year-old James Wilson whose career has really sprung to life over the past 12 months.
After picking up a number of minor titles in 2012, the Huddersfield man was runner up to Bunting in the World Masters before exacting revenge on the Bullet, defeating him in the final of the Zuiderduin Dutch Grand Masters 5-1 in December.
His best performance at Lakeside is a last 32 finish but if he brings his impressive form into the tournament, he could easily be a challenger.
Wilson is my BET OF THE DAY to take the tournament outright, considering Boylesports offer generous odds of 12/1.
Other potential challengers include Wesley Harms, who is priced at 14/1 with Bet 365 whilst last year’s runner-up Tony O’Shea is available at 16/1 with Sportingbet.
Selected First Round Matches
Waites is not directly seeded on his title last year and goes in as seventh seed and faces Yeovil’s Alan Norris in Saturday’s first match.
He’s 1/4 favourite with William Hill whilst Sky Bet offer the best price on a Norris win at 10/3.
Fourth seed Robbie Green faces Richie George, son of former World Championship finalist Bobby George, in the pick of Sunday’s matches.
Bunting, amongst others, will not know who they will be playing until the conclusion of the preliminary round matches, a new feature of this year’s tournament which sees 40 players taking part instead of the 32 in years gone by.
Live coverage of the tournament will be available via BBC One, Two and the red button.
You can also claim free bets with Totesport by clicking HERE.