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  • Ryan James Mingay

2023 WDF World Championships Preview with 3 Names to Look Out For.

By Ryan James-Mingay

The WDF World Championships is set to make a return on the 2nd of December for its second edition since replacing the now-defunct BDO. The tournament has been affected by multiple cancellations, and withdrawals but it is finally set to go ahead. The historic venue will play host to an exciting week of darts set to feature some big names, fan favourites and unknown names who are capable of big upsets. Neil Duff is the defending champion after the brass Northern Irishman backed up his talk and defeated Frenchman Thibault Tricole to lift the inaugural title and £50,000.

Tricole however is one of numerous players to withdraw for numerous reasons after he secured qualification to Ally Pally and the Rival PDC World Championship. He will be joined at Ally Pally by numerous big names including New Zealand’s Haupai Puha and Ben Robb as well as the hugely rated prospect Luke Littler and Challenge tour leader, Berry Van Peer. Raymond Smith withdrew for Medical reasons and his son Ky and fellow Aussie Brandon Weening both withdrew for personal reasons.

These withdrawals are seen by some as controversial but have allowed a host of interesting challengers to stake their claim on the title in what is set to be a wide-open and thrilling championship. The oddsmakers have the number one seed Andy Baetens as the favourite with the rest of the top 5 containing Leonard Gates, Chris Landman, Wesley Plaisier and Sebastian Bialecki.

So let's look at some names that may have gone under the radar and could cause some surprises.

Thomas Junghans – Switzerland

The German Born Junghans has had a prolific year on tour taking home a total of 4 titles this year. The best of those came at the Swedish Open where defeated Darren Johnson 6-4 to win the silver-ranked event in August.

At the doubleheader in Cyprus, he had a dominant weekend as he won the Cyprus Classic and the Cyprus Masters, his final title of the year was the Riga Open in Latvia. A former Semi-Finalist at the World Masters back in 2015 (lost to eventual winner Glen Durrant) Junghans faces a tough opener against England’s David Pallet but should he be victorious then he will surely be a contender for the title in what is his debut at a World Championships

Benjamin Pratnemer – Slovenia

The Slovenian is an obscure figure who may not be recognisable to many fans, however, he may be familiar to some who watched him come up short to Justin Pipe at the 2020 PDC World Championship. The 2022 World Open winner, has only claimed one title this year which was the Slovakian Masters.

But the big Slovene is remarkably consistent and has the ability to grind out results. He won't wow you with jaw-dropping averages but will still be entertaining to watch and his talent on the outer ring will amplify that entertainment value. A veteran on the Steel and Soft tip circuits, it could finally be the time for Pratnemer to make a big run which will start with a match against David Kirwan of Scotland.

Jamie Lewis – Wales

Famed for his fairytale to the Semi-Finals at the 2018 PDC World Championships, Lewis is a well-known figure to many darts fans. He stunned many on that run including Peter Wright who he annihilated 4-1 with an incredible 107 Average. This came after he whitewashed fellow Welshman, Jonny Clayton 3-0 in the opening round after he came through the preliminary round. He beat James Richardson and Darren Webster 4-1 and 5-0 to become the first player to reach the last 4 after coming through the preliminary rounds. He was beaten by the legendary Phil Taylor but he still announced himself to fans around the world.

Lewis had a rapid decline after 2019 and in 2020 he only managed to muster an average of 57 in a 0-6 loss to Robert Marijanovic.

He stepped away from darts for a while but did return at Ally Pally in 2021. He lost his tour card and plied his trade on the WDF circuit in 2022, he won the Antwerp Open and had a solid year securing his spot at Lakeside. He hasn't played this year since a failed Q School appearance but talent-wise he is easily a top contender for the title, his lack of competitive games this year could worry some but if Jamie is back to anywhere near his scintillating best then he may go further than his 2018 ally pally run and secure a surprising World Title.

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