St Helens trio odds on for challenge

Dave Chisnall is one of three St Helens darts aces preparing for the tournament at Alexandra Palace
Dave Chisnall is one of three St Helens darts aces preparing for the tournament at Alexandra Palace

If the odds are to be believed - and it’s not often the experts are way off the mark - then St Helens’ three protagonists in the £1.8m World Darts Championship have little hope of being crowned king of the oche.

But Stephen Bunting (250/1) and both Dave Chisnall and Michael Smith (quoted at 125/1) will all he hoping to defy their underdogs’ tag when the tournament gets under way at the Alexandra Palace, London, on Thursday.

All face potential banana skins in the first round but are talented enough to progress further in the 72-strong competition.

Bunting will be the first on stage among the locals on Friday when he faces Belgium’s Dimitri Van den Bergh - known as the Dream Maker - and will be hoping to shatter the ambition of his rival.

Chisnall will be in action on Sunday when he comes face-to-face with quick-fire Vincent van de Voort - nicknamed The Dutch Destroyer - and will be favourite to reach the next stage against an opponent who can blow either hot, or cold.

Former World Youth Champion Michael Smith completes St Helens’ first round challenge on Wednesday (December 20), taking on Steve Lennon of the Republic of Ireland and if form is any guide he should reach round two comfortably.

Dutchman Michael Van Gerwen is quotes as 4/5 favourite to retain his title, closely followed by Gary Anderson of Scotland (6/1), Peter Wright of Scotland (8/1), Phil Taylor of England (10/1), Rob Cross of England (14/1).