Michael Smith has often been tipped as a world champion in waiting by his peers. This is reflected by the St Helens ace of the oche being fourth favourite to lift the £2,5 million William Hill World Darts Championship which will be staged at the Alexandra Palace, London, from December 13-January 1.
The 28-year-old Smith - a former World Youth Champion and runner-up in last year's Premier League - is quoted at 14-1.
World no. 1 Michael van Gerwen is the 11/8 favourite with the sponsors, while back-to-back winner Gary Anderson is quoted as 3/1 second favourite.
World number three Peter Wright is 11/1 to win a first world crown, with defending champion Rob Cross a 20/1 shot.
Dave Chisnall (66/1), Stephen Bunting (125/1) and Alan Tabern (1,000/1) will also be carrying the St Helens flag.
William Hill's wide range of odds for the 96-strong tournament includes markets on the nationality of the eventual champion, odds on the number of nine-dart finishes and 170 checkouts which may be achieved, as well as match odds.
PDC chairman Barry Hearn said: ''It is, without doubt, the most open and the greatest event that we have ever staged,
"The standard is going through the roof and I can't wait.
"We've seen a year where no upset will surprise us. We know we're dealing with a host of top quality players.
You could make a case for 32 of them causing upsets, out of the 96-player field."