In theory, the best darts players on the planet should be bringing their A-game to the World Championships at Alexandra Palace each year.
Not only is it the most important and prestigious tournament in the calendar, meaning that the players practice that little bit harder, the PDC schedule means that many have got plenty of 'match fitness' after contesting the Grand Slam and the Players Championship Finals the month before the Worlds gets underway.
So, is this logic reflected in the players' performances? Notwithstanding the huge pressure of the tournament, the highest averages in World Championship history would suggest that the event is very much the pinnacle of the sport… as it should be.
The darts betting odds for the 2024 World Championship make Michael van Gerwen a 4/1 favourite ahead of the likes of Gerwyn Price (11/2), Michael Smith (13/2) and Luke Humphries (15/2).
And when you look at some of the performances that MVG has served up at Ally Pally over the years, it's amazing to think that he's *only* won three world titles.
The pick of those came in the semi-finals of the 2017 edition against Raymond van Barneveld, an epic contest that is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest games that professional darts has ever seen.
Arguably the highest standard of any match ever seen at a World Championship. Enjoy. MVG v RVB. 2017 SF. pic.twitter.com/2XRYwa3ixV— Wayne Mardle (@Wayne501Mardle) December 3, 2019
MVG had averaged no lower than 103 throughout his run to the last four, but he well and truly put on the afterburners against his countryman – averaging 114.05 in a 6-2 victory that has to go down as the best performance in World Championship history.
When you think of sky-scraping averages at the Worlds, the first two players that come to mind are MVG and Phil Taylor.
The Power, who of course won 16 world titles all told, saved some of his very best work for the World Championship stage – be it at the Circus Tavern or Ally Pally.
The cream of the crop came against the luckless Shayne Burgess in the second round back in 2022. In truth, Burgess did well to win a set in the 1-6 hammering given that Taylor averaged 111.21 – a near faultless performance across seven sets.
Incredibly, Taylor would lift the trophy without losing another set, whitewashing John Part, Dave Askew and Peter Manley on route to his then tenth world title.
You sense that what Taylor and Van Barneveld say about each other publicly – and what they truly feel in private – are two different things. They were the best of enemies when it came to toeing the oche.
That explains why they often played so well against one another: their desire to win the bragging rights almost palpable every time they collided on stage.
And collide they would in the 2009 World Championship final, with Taylor producing a masterclass on the cusp of his 50th birthday to dominate his nemesis from the Netherlands.
Barney, to his credit, had enjoyed a fine tournament himself, recording a 106.68 average against Jelle Klaasen in the quarter-final as well as producing a nine-darter. But he could do very little in the final against Taylor, whose 110.94 average is the third-best in World Championship history and the highest in a final.
Will anybody challenge the history books at the 2024 edition?