As the 2022 World Darts Championship reached its conclusion at the beginning of January, fans were able to reflect on another fascinating three weeks of high-octane drama at Alexandra Palace. Although it was the in-form Peter Wright who eventually lifted the prestigious Sid Waddell Trophy for the second time, there were a number of eye-catching performances throughout the course of the tournament.
🍜☕️ Yorkshire Tea & Pot Noodle for Wright ☕️🍜
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) January 4, 2022
Wright, who has already been priced up as third favourite at 6/1 in the latest darts betting for next season’s showpiece event, is expected to have another good season at the highest level, however, there are a plethora of under-the-radar players who are also hoping that they can take a significant step forward in 2022. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the players below tipped as dark horses in the darts predictions as they are all poised for a big year.
WHAT A MATCH, WHAT A WIN!
Peter Wright comes from 3-1 down to defeat Callan Rydz in a tie-break to secure his spot in the semi-finals!
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) January 1, 2022
The Newcastle-born thrower enjoyed a profitable twelve months and having only claimed his first Pro Tour title in February 2021, he’s made significant progress since crashing out of the World Darts Championship at the second round stage two seasons ago.
Having reached the quarter-final stage of the 2021 World Matchplay, there was a quiet optimism surrounding his appearance at Ally Pally in December. The 23-year old duly delivered and knocked out the highly-rated Alan Soutar to book his place in the last eight. Despite dropping the first set, the confident Northeasterner roared back to win 4-1 and set up a mouth-watering clash with eventual champion Peter Wright.
The Bedlington star produced a confident display in front of a bumper crowd, however, despite finding himself 3-1 up, he was unable to prevent a spirited comeback from the world number two.
Although there was to be no fairytale ending for Rydz, the World Darts Championship has thrown up a number of surprises in the past, including Rob Cross’ 2018 victory, and he is likely to return to the North London venue full of belief and determination.
Ryan Searle is one of the most instantly recognisable figures on the PDC Tour, however, he has yet to truly fulfil his potential. The 34-year old heavy metal fan enjoyed a breakthrough 2021, which culminated in a fourth round exit at the World Championships. Although the Holcombe Rogus-born thrower would have disappointed with his failure to reach the last eight, his performances against William Borland and Danny Noppert were impressive, and he looks set to build upon those strong displays in 2022.
Having never previously made it beyond the fourth round stage of a major, he reached the quarter-finals of the World Grand Prix beating Dimitri Van den Bergh and Luke Humphries en-route, before being edged out by Peter Wright in a thrilling finale at the Players Championship in November.
Florian Hempel was one of a handful of qualifiers who were making their debut at the World Championships this winter, and despite suffering a third round elimination to Raymond Smith, the former Handball professional made a notable impression during his brief stint in N22.
Having already beaten Peter Wright at the European Championships, Hempel showed that he wasn’t afraid of facing well-fancied favourites when eliminating Dimitri Van den Bergh during the second round of this year’s end-of-season extravaganza. With an average of 98.37, he deservedly sealed his place in the third round of the competition, however, he wasn’t able to build upon this impressive performance.
Although he’s had very little experience at the top level, he appears to have a bright future on the PDC Tour and is likely to continue upsetting the odds throughout 2022.
Although the likes of Michael Van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price and the aforementioned Peter Wright are likely to dominate the headlines throughout 2022, it could easily be the year that we see far more of this talented trio, and they each look set to continue their remarkable progress over the next twelve months.