Light lies the crown before Michael van Gerwen’s visit to the Palace | Jonathan Liew

Dutchman is strong favourite to retain his world title while Gerwyn Price looks best equipped to offer a challengeTo the Palace, then, for the 27th edition of a tournament that over its rich and eclectic history has come to occupy a cherished and strangely comforting place in the festive sporting calendar. Depressed by the election result? Fearful of climate change? Never mind: the darts is back on the telly and, for the next three weeks at least, everything’s going to be fine.Of course, regular followers will be entitled to point out that darts is hardly ever off the telly these days, such has been the prodigious growth of the sport over the last two decades. And yet even in a fattened calendar, in a world of new stars and dizzying new frontiers, there remains a particular cachet to the world championship, a shared bloodline that connects your John Lowes and Eric Bristows to today’s sponsor-encrusted, mineral water‑supping superstars. Continue reading…