We are just days away from PDC World Darts Championship returning with fans to Alexandra Palace. I was lucky enough to be in the crowd for the one night when we had fans at last year’s event and it didn’t feel the same. This year (fingers crossed) we will see the Palace return to full capacity for every session.
Following the draw, we have the potential of previous World Champions meeting as early as the second round, and as always fans and pundits already mapping out their finalists.
However, as we all know at the Worlds there are no easy games, and I’m going to talk you through the five of the standout ties from Round One.
Fallon Sherrock v Steve Beaton
Steve Beaton got the first round draw that no player wanted. After her huge success at 2019/20 World Championship, Fallon will be looking to build on her experience on that famous stage. She defeated both Ted Evetts and Mensur Suljovic to create history in becoming the first Women to win a game at the PDC World Darts Championship.
COVID-19 did slow down the progress of The Queen of The Palace, however she certainly made up for it in the second half of 2021, by topping the Ladies Series Order of Merit, and getting to the final of the Nordic Darts Masters. All of that was before her run to the quarter finals at the Grand Slam of Darts, which included one of darting moments of the year, a fabulous 170 to defeat Gabriel Clemens.
For Steve Beaton it’s not been a fantastic year and that is showing in his current world ranking of 43. To add to that, he’s defending £35,000 from his run to the last 16 two years ago.
The one thing The Bronzed Adonis will be bringing to the stage on Sunday 19th December though is a huge amount of experience. This will be Beaton’s 31st consecutive World Championship in a row, including his 21st in the PDC and a world title when he defeated Ritchie Burnett in 1996 BDO World Championship.
Will the Queen continue to make history or can the former World Champion get the better of the fans favourite to set up a tie with Kim Huybrechts?
Florian Hempel v Martin Schindler
The draw that neither player wanted, but every non German darts fan did. What a tie we have in store when these two meet.
Two players who at the start had to go to Niedernhausen to win a PDC tour card have both had very good years to book a place at the Palace but would have certainly hoped for a better draw.
Martin Schindler was the first player out the two of them to secure his qualification for this year’s World Championship. He actually survived two match darts in defeating Hempel 11-10 in a fantastic final of the PDC Europe Super League.
The Wall also finds himself higher in the rankings than Hempel after qualifying for both the Grand Slam of Darts and the Players Championship.
For Hempel, it’s been a steady start to his first year on the tour. The highlight of which is his first round over Peter Wright in the European Championship. He was unable to follow it up in round two with another win, but taking Suljovic to a last leg decider in a best to 19, certainly showed the pedigree of Hempel.
The winner of this will take on Dimitri Van den Bergh in what promises to be another Christmas cracker.
Raymond van Barneveld v Lourence Ilagan
The five time World Champion will return to the Worlds stage after a successful first year back on the tour. The last time we saw Barney on this famous stage was back in December 2019, when he lost to Darin Young 3-1. We all thought that was the last we would see of the great Dutchman on a PDC stage but now he’s back to try and make it World title number six.
If Barney does want this, he will need to come through a quarter of the draw that includes six players who have won a World Championship.
A second round tie with 2018 World Champion Rob Cross waits for the Dutchman, if he can get the better of a player who certainly brings a lot of excitement in Lourence Ilagan.
Ilagan will be appearing in his sixth PDC World Championship, and is yet to pick up his first win on the Alexandra Palace stage. With all eyes on the return of Barney can the Philippino upset the odds?
Ted Evetts v Jim Williams
The newly crowned World Youth Champion takes on 2020 BDO World Champion runner up in what we expect to be a tight tungsten affair.
We all remember the last time Super Ted was on the Worlds stage, being part of history as the first man defeated by a woman at the World Championship.
Since then though Evetts as gone on to lift more Development tour titles, becoming the most successful player on the Dev Tour and just last month he beat Nathan Rafferty to become the World Youth Champion.
Finishing top also secured a spot at the Grand Slam of Darts which he won two out of his three games and also guaranteed him a spot on the main tour next year.
With both players securing Tour Cards for next year, they are coming into this tournament with a lot of confidence and very little pressure rest on their shoulders. With that combination we could be set up for a first round classic.
Adrian Lewis v Matt Campbell
Are we starting to see the back to back World Champion return to his best?
Adrian Lewis has struggled with form over the past few years, but now we are starting to see glimpses of what Jackpot can do. The early parts of 2021 saw results not match the performances from him but that as changed as the year as progressed.
We even saw the Lewis arrogance return in the Players Championship, after he hit back to back ton plus checkouts to defeat Kim Huybrechts. Unfortunately this was over shadowed with the shenanigans in a defeat to Peter Wright.
Jackpot is currently sitting in spot 35 in the World and he is defending £5,000, so he knows that he needs to find some form to make sure he doesn’t drop further down the rankings.
The draw hasn’t helped Jackpot, with a difficult tie against the Ginga Ninja and the winner taking on Gary Anderson in another Christmas cracker.
Matt Campbell will be looking to learn from his recent experience from the Grand Slam of Darts and his previous two World Championship appearances, however he’s yet to pick up a win on the big stage.
It’s been a successful year for the Canadian who won three European Challenge Tours to secure top spot on the Order of Merit. Not only did it book his place at the Worlds, but it secured his PDC Tour Card.
If both players can find their A game, we are in for a treat.