PDC World Championship Best Round one Games. Key ties from a mouth-watering first round line-up at the 2021 William World Darts Championship

The 2021 William Hill World Darts Championship is almost upon us. Spanning a traditional three weeks over the festive period, the biggest showpiece of them all begins on  Tuesday 15 December at the iconic Alexandra Palace in north London.

It will conclude on Sunday 3 January, where the 2021 William Hill World Darts champion will be crowned. The event will also witness 1,000 per session in attendance, in respect of relaxed government guidelines surrounding elite sports.

Best ties of the First Round at the 2021 William Hill World Darts Championship (Lawrence Lusting, PDC)

Interestingly, the draw provided a number of exciting first round and potential second round ties, to be played up to and including 23 December, which acts as a cut-off point ahead of the Christmas break.

Despite what could arguably be described as one of the most competitive fields of recent years, there a handful of first round meetings that certainly whet the darting appetites upon coming out of the hat.

Andy Hamilton v Nico Kurz

We’ll begin with an absolute barnstormer between ‘The Hammer’ Andy Hamilton and exciting German prospect, Nico Kurz.

A real mix of proven PDC pedigree versus potential elite pedigree. Hamilton is, of course, a former World finalist, where he lost to Adrian Lewis in 2012, and semi finalist in 2007. Add to that a 2012 Premier League semi final appearance, two World Matchplay semi finals and a Grand Slam final and you have a player capable of producing the right darts needed at the right time.

Recent years haven’t witnessed as much progress as the Stoke man would’ve liked, but after a short spell with the BDO, he’s back better than ever to work his way back towards the top of the PDC rankings, and making the William Hill World Darts Championship via the ProTour order of merit is the first step to doing just that.

Hamilton has shown glimpses of his return to past form, including a nine darter in his match against Christian Bunce at the recently passed PDC Winter Series.

However, Kurz surely wouldn’t have been the name at the top of his list to be drawn against in the first round of his 13th PDC World Championship. The young German Super League qualifier made an immediate impact on debut at Ally Pally last year, producing splendid performances to see off the Yorkshire pair of James Wilson and Joe Cullen. He eventually lost to Luke Humphries in the third round.

Not only that, but Kurz is no stranger to going blow-for-blow with the bigger guns of the darting world. A 2019 German Darts Masters win over Gary Anderson included a stunning 170 checkout, cementing his name in the category of ‘ones to watch’. Peter Wright luckily managed to avoid becoming the second victim, defeating a valiant Kurz 8-6 in the quarter final.

Awaiting the winner of this tie is 31st seed Gabriel Clemens; a tasty proposition if Kurz was to progress, with the potential of all-German meeting.


Luke Humphries v Paul Lim

Another encounter that pits youth against experience. Two players that could not be further apart on the darting spectrum.

Humphries, a 2019 PDC World Youth Champion, is making his fourth appearance at Alexandra Palace, buoyed by two consecutive runs to the quarter finals. By contrast, this year’s event will be the Singapore Slinger’s 25th total appearance at a World Championship.

Lim has always remained a fan favourite, and holds the extraordinary piece of darting history that saw him become the first man to hit a World Champioship nine darter. A feat he came within a wire of repeating back in 2018 against Gary Anderson. Legend has it that darting fanatics still wonder what could’ve been if that last dart had settled in the double-twelve.

This is a real intriguing matchup. On paper, many would fancy Humphries to get the job done. But it is great to see Lim still competing at the highest level, and it almost feels as if the opening rounds aren’t complete until we’ve seen him on that Ally Pally stage.

The prize for coming through this tie is a meeting with the World Matchplay champion, and ninth seed, Dimitri van den Bergh.

Ryan Joyce v Karel Sedlacek

Expect endless quality from these two. A duo of arrowsmiths only heading in one direction; up.

Both have experienced a solid year on the tour, and have deservedly consolidated their spots in the festive showpiece.

Joyce had success at a Pro Tour event over the course of a disrupted campaign, taking home a title on one of the days at the PDC Summer Series. He also displayed his capabilities on the TV stage, defeating Peter Wright in the first round of the World Grand Prix, before missing match darts to progress further against Dave Chisnall. A run to the fourth round of the UK Open also thrust Joyce into contention for a Worlds spot.

The Tynesider is making his third appearance in the Capital, two years after his initial debut year in 2019 where he battled to reach the quarter final before losing to Michael van Gerwen.

His opponent, Karel Sedlacek, has also made steady progress on the PDC order of merit. Nicknamed ‘Evil Charlie’, the Czech thrower is a regular representative at the World Cup of Darts, but will be keen to prove himself as a consistent individual performer.

Sedlacek won his tour card at the European Q School back in January, building on his achievement across 2020. More recently, he put in some excellent winning performances at the Players Championship Finals. Krzysztof Ratajski was the first man eliminated, 6-4, followed by Latvian prospect Madars Razma 6-5, but the fairytale run came to an end in the third round at the hands of eventual runner-up Mervyn King.

It will be his second showing at a PDC World Championship, with his sole appearance occurring in a 2019 defeat to Keegan Brown.

Sedlacek may well get the chance to inflict another defeat in a matter of weeks on Ratajski if he were to come through, as the Polish Eagle lies in wait for the winner of this tie.

Scott Waites v Matt Campbell

This one may well turn out to be tie of the round.

Scott Waites takes on Canada’s Matt Campbell, and both have shown the capability to initiate a deep run within this event.

Waites knows what it takes to secure a world crown, having done so twice, albeit within the BDO organisation. He’s also a PDC major title holder, champion of the 2010 Grand Slam of Darts; so he also knows what it takes to mix it with the sport’s elite.

The Halifax man, who gave up his day job to focus on darts full-time having secured his tour card at 2020 Q School, qualfied for the upcoming tournament via the Pro Tour order of merit. He also qualified for the Players Championship Finals, and had a huge chance to knock out high seeded Nathan Aspinall in the first round, but squandered match darts to do so.

His opponent is an Ontario native in Campbell who himself impressed on the TV stage at November’s World Cup of Darts.

Representing his nation, Campbell contributed to a shock 5-2 win over Northern Ireland, before winning his singles matches in wins over New Zealand and Belgium respectively. Although Canada went out against the Belgians, Campbell’s singles victory over Dimitri van den Bergh was shining light, and included a stunning 160 checkout complete with a 97.56 average.

It’s only Campbell’s second appearance at Ally Pally, and he’ll undoubtedly want to reproduce some of his World Cup form to rectify a disappointing display in a 3-1 loss to Mark McGeeney last year.

Sixth-seed Nathan Aspinall awaits the victor, and Waites will definitely want to have the chance to gain revenge. This match has all the hallmarks of a first round classic.

Jeff Smith v Keane Barry

Here we go again. That theme of experience v youth continues to rear it’s head, and what a terrific matchup in question.

Another Canadian, the accomplished Jeff Smith, takes on a rising Irish star in the shape of 18-year-old Keane Barry.

Smith has gone deep in two BDO World Championships, reaching the semi final in 2015, before losing out to Waites in 2016’s final. At PDC events, he’s hasn’t made it past the first round on two occasions, something he’ll feel confident in changing on the back of a 2020 campaign that initiated his third stint with the organisation.

Reaching Alexandra Palace caps a solid year for Smith, who only won that elusive tour card back at Q School in January, similarly to his fellow former BDO hopeful Waites. The North American managed a semi final at Day 3 of the Summer Series, with a last 16 appearance on Day 3 of the Winter Series.

Barry appears in his second World Championship having witnessed a tremendous year via the PDC Development Tour. His first of many likely showings at the grandest event ended in defeat to Vincent van der Voort last time around.

The Irishman is no stranger to Ally Pally success though, as despite exiting early to Van der Voort, he returned a few days later to claim the Junior Darts Championship against Adam Gawlas. He adds that success to his BDO World Youth championship claimed earlier in 2020 against Leighton Bennett.

It’s a real chance for the youngster to claim a scalp with the experience of Jeff Smith, and may well be the spark to go deep so early on in his career. Otherwise, Smith will feel he’s in with a chance of re-sparking some form of his own to quash any doubts that may be thrust his way.

Chris Dobey meets the winner in round two; a man who is somewhat out of sorts, so the pair of Smith and Barry will hope to progress in order to really push ‘Hollywood’ all the way.

Luke Woodhouse v Jamie Lewis

Interesting one between ‘Woody’ and Jamie Lewis.

Woodhouse has maintained his spot within the ProTour order of merit to reach this stage, and will be looking to build on a decent third round showing on debut at the 2020 William Hill World Darts Championship, where he lost out to Dimitri van den Bergh 4-2 in an entertaining clash.

He’ll also be out to quickly make amends from his exit in the last major tournament, where a 10-1 dismantling by Dirk van Duijvenbode overshadowed a resilient run to the third round stage. A run to the third round was also accumulated in the UK Open in Minehead.

Jamie Lewis, however, has a bit of recent history in this tournament. He famously reached the 2018 semi final, losing to Phil Taylor, but made quite a name for himself throughout that event by playing some magnificent darts.

The Carmarthen player has admittedly suffered a slide in form throughout 2020, but he crucially turned it on when required to snatch a spot at Ally Pally in two weeks time thanks to a trio of victories at the PDPA World Championship qualifier event.

It’s sure to be a fascinating watch between a man gradually working his way up the rankings, and a former World last four participant and 2015 top 32 contender.

The winner has the fortune of squaring off against one of the form players of recent months- a certain Gerwyn Price.

What else is on offer?

There’s no shortage of entertainment on the way as the 2021 William Hill World Darts Championship begins to unfold.

In addition to the highlighted meetings, several other ties are poised to cause quite a stir.

In-form Ryan Murray meets Asian Tour order of merit topper, and charismatic Filipino, Lourence Ilagan. The victor of that meets Michael van Gerwen in round two. Irishman Willie O’Connor meets young Dutchman Niels Zonneveld, and Australian Damon Heta could set up a titanic second round tussle with Adrian Lewis if he overcomes America’s Danny Baggish.

A battle of two in-form dartists takes shape, as Ross Smith faces David Evans. Smith knocked Nathan Aspinall and Kim Huybrechts out on his way to the third round of the Players Championship Finals, adding to his impressive quarter final showing at the last European Tour event of the year. Evans has steadily worked his way up the rankings across all three of the PDC’s Pro Tour series, and has produced some great darts on the PDC Home Tour, brought in whilst covid restrictions have been in place.

The PDC Women’s qualifiers, Lisa Ashton and Deta Hedman, were drawn to face Adam Hunt and Andy Boulton respectively. Jamie Hughes and Stephen Bunting are the second round opponents for the victors of those ties.

Steve West meets Indian qualifier Amrit Gilitwala for the chance to meet last year’s World Champion Peter Wright in the second round. There’s also a peach of a tie between World Grand Prix semi finalist, and Players Championship Finals quarter finalist, Dirk van Duijvenbode and newly crowned PDC World Youth champion, Bradley Brooks. Rob Cross awaits either Dirk or Blackburn’s Brooks in the next round.



First Quarter

Ryan Murray v Lourence Ilagan

Mickey Mansell v Haupai Puha

Wayne Jones v Ciaran Teehan

John Henderson v Marko Kantele

Keegan Brown v Ryan Meikle

Martijn Kleermaker v Cameron Carolissen

Luke Humphries v Paul Lim

Derk Telnekes v Nick Kenny

Second Quarter

Jason Lowe v Dimitry Gorbunov

Steve Lennon v Daniel Larsson

Madars Razma v Toru Suzuki

Maik Kuivenhoven v Matthew Edgar

Dirk van Duijvenbode v Bradley Brooks

Adam Hunt v Lisa Ashton

Steve Beaton v Diogo Portela

Damon Heta v Danny Baggish

Third Quarter

Steve West v Amrit Gilitwala

Andy Hamilton v Nico Kurz

Ryan Joyce v Karel Sedlacek

Darius Labanauskas v Chengan Liu

Callan Rydz v James Bailey

Andy Boulton v Deta Hedman

Kim Huybrechts v Di Zhuang

Ryan Searle v Danny Lauby

Fourth Quarter

Luke Woodhouse v Jamie Lewis

Mike De Decker v Edward Foulkes

Ross Smith v David Evans

Max Hopp v Gordon Mathers

Scott Waites v Matt Campbell

Ron Meulenkamp v Boris Krcmar

William O’Connor v Niels Zonneveld

Jeff Smith v Keane Barry



First Quarter

Michael van Gerwen (1) v Ryan Murray/Lourence Ilagan

Ricky Evans (32) v Mickey Mansell/Haupai Puha

Joe Cullen (16) v Wayne Jones/Ciaran Teehan

Jonny Clayton (17) v John Henderson/Marko Kantele

Dave Chisnall (8) v Keegan Brown/Ryan Meikle

Danny Noppert (25) v Martijn Kleermaker/Cameron Carolissen

Dimitri van den Bergh (9) v Luke Humphries/Paul Lim

Jermaine Wattimena (24) v Derk Telnekes/Nick Kenny

Second Quarter

Michael Smith (4) v Jason Lowe/Dimitriy Gorbunov

Devon Petersen (29) v Steve Lennon/Daniel Larsson

Gary Anderson (13) v Madars Razma/Toru Suzuki

Mensur Suljovic (20) v Maik Kuivenhoven/Matthew Edgar

Rob Cross (5) v Dirk van Duijvenbode/Bradley Brooks

Jamie Hughes (28) v Adam Hunt/Lisa Ashton

Glen Durrant (12) v Steve Beaton/Diogo Portela

Adrian Lewis (21) v Damon Heta/Danny Baggish

Third Quarter

Peter Wright (2) v Steve West/Amrit Gilitwala

Gabriel Clemens (31) v Andy Hamilton/Nico Kurz

Krzysztof Ratajski (15) v Ryan Joyce/Karel Sedlacek

Simon Whitlock (18) v Darius Labanauskas/Chengan Liu

James Wade (7) v Callan Rydz/James Bailey

Stephen Bunting (26) v Andy Boulton/Deta Hedman

Ian White (10) v Kim Huybrechts/Di Zhuang

Jeffrey De Zwaan (23) v Ryan Searle/Danny Lauby

Fourth Quarter

Gerwyn Price (3) v Luke Woodhouse/Jamie Lewis

Brendan Dolan (30) v Mike De Decker/Edward Foulkes

Jose de Sousa (14) v Ross Smith/David Evans

Mervyn King (19) v Max Hopp/Gordon Mathers

Nathan Aspinall (6) v Scott Waites/Matt Campbell

Vincent van der Voort (27) v Ron Meulenkamp/Boris Krcmar

Daryl Gurney (11) v William O’Connor/Niels Zonneveld

Chris Dobey (22) v Jeff Smith/Keane Barry