Who are the main contenders for the PDC World Darts Championship?

The event begins on Thursday night in London

BY Daniel Kelly 12:15 Thursday 15 December 2016, 12:15 15 Dec 2016

Gary Anderson is the back-to-back champion. Picture by John Walton PA Archive/PA Images

The 2017 PDC World Darts Championship begins on Thursday night in London's Alexandra Palace. 

72 players will begin the trophy looking to win the Sid Waddell Trophy, and the £350,000 first prize. The winner will be crowned on January 2nd.

Scotland's Gary Anderson has won the tournament for the past two years, but will go into the event as one of the underdogs. Michael van Gerwen is the almost unbackable favourite, having won every major title this year since the World Championship.

Anderson is the headline act on the opening night against unseeded Mark Frost. It's worth noting that Frost has one of the best nicknames in sport (Frosty the Throwman).

Van Gerwen and Phil Taylor do not enter the tournament until the weekend. The Dutch star faces Ross Snook or Kim Viljanen on Saturday night, while Taylor meets John Bowles or David Blatt on Sunday.

Ireland have three players in the tournament. Mick McGowan is in action on Thursday evening. The Meath player faces Jamie Caven.

Derry's Daryl Gurney is the second player in action. He plays Jermaine Wattimena on Sunday evening. Next Tuesday, Brendan Dolan has a tough opening encounter. He has been drawn against former BDO champion Christian Kist.

While 72 players are competing, less than then will feel they can win the title. Players like Peter Wright and James Wade will hope to become first-time winners, but all form points towards a van Gerwen win.

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