Peter Wright says his Scottish rival Gary Anderson is “the man to beat” at the 2018/19 World Championship as he prepares to vie for a maiden world title at Ally Pally.
Anderson has enjoyed arguably his best ever season heading in to the sport’s blue riband event, having picked up four televised titles in 2018, including the UK Open and World Matchplay.
Wright, who targeted 20 titles at the beginning of the season, has managed just three, winning the Melbourne Masters and two Players Championship events, falling short in the final of the Champions League and World Grand Prix.
Wright and Anderson are situated in opposite halves of the draw and ‘Snakebite’ expects fourth seed Anderson to thrive at Ally Pally once again.
“We’ve all got to watch out because Gary’s the man to beat,” Wright told Live Darts.
“We all know that because he always does well in the World Championship (not the BDO one!) but in the PDC one he does amazing.
“The only person really to stop him has either been MVG or Phil Taylor and we haven’t got Phil Taylor anymore so there’s only MVG to actually stop him.
“I’m glad he’s not in my half!
“There’s been so many different winners [this year], six different winners in the World Series and different winners of all the majors near enough, apart from Gary.
“He should have won a lot more though this year but his favourite tournament is coming up.”
Wright finished runner-up to Van Gerwen in the 2014 World Championship, his best performance in the event to date, but the colourful Scot believes the overall standard was higher then than it is now.
He added: “When I reached the final then, there were loads of good players around, and there’s still loads of good players around now, but the standard, I believe, is nowhere near.
“You’ve got so many tournaments on now, you’re doing the World Series, the Europeans and all the floor tournaments and it’s very hard.
“You’ve got to be a special, dedicated person to really do that and I’ll be doing every single one next year so watch this space.
“I’m 49 next year and when I come to 50, I’ll relax a little bit.”
Wright is the 10/1 third favourite with William Hill
to claim a maiden world crown on New Year’s Day, but the world number three is refusing to look past the first hurdle.
He awaits the winner of the First Round clash between Spain’s Toni Alcinas and New Zealand’s Craig Ross, and admitted: “You’ve got to look out for the first person you’re playing because they’ve been practicing just as hard as you for the World Championship.
“There’s no Mickey Mouse’s, every player in that tournament can hit nine-darters.”
As part of the expanded 96-player field, the top 32 seeds will now enter at the Second Round stage, while the ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers and International qualifiers battle it out for the right to join them.
Wright believes the change of format could make life tough for the players who have to contest two matches in a short space of time.
“Everyone deserves their chance to play in the World Championship but it’s a little bit annoying sometimes when someone’s already had their game on the stage,” he added.
“I feel sorry for Rob Cross and Paul Nicholson because Paul’s got to play in the afternoon and maybe again in the evening and Rob’s playing last game but Jeffrey de Zwaan plays first and then plays Rob Cross.
“Rob is the defending champion and Jeffrey is no slouch, he’s taken Michael [Van Gerwen] out twice this year in TV tournaments, so it’s cruel.
“We’ve just got to play in it, we don’t make the rules, we’ve just got to go on.”