BDO World Darts Championship 2020 preview and schedule: Sunday January 5
The BDO World Darts Championship looks like another minefield for the big names.
Results at the World Masters raised a lot of eyebrows, with top seeds exiting early. It looks like the World Darts Championship could go very much the same way at the Indigo. Yesterday's preview suggested that the tournament marked a big opportunity for Dave Parletti; now that opportunity's gone, snuffed out by Chris Landman. Ross Montgomery - again - and Simon Stainton were surprise casualties. Jim Williams just about clung on, while the big winners of the day were Thibault Tricole and Beau Greaves, the latter of whom is a major title contender at just 15 years old.
Plenty more drama is sure to abound in London for Sunday's sessions.
Resurrection for the T-Rex?
Justin Thompson's having a busy couple of days. Having beaten Scott Williams yesterday, the Australian is back for a third consecutive crack at the last 32 of the World Darts Championship. In 2018, he lost 3-2. In 2019, the same again. Wayne Warren definitely wouldn't mind seeing history repeat itself.
Ben Hazel, having battled through a competitive qualifier, will make his debut against American ace Joe Chaney. The Tennessee native has been to the World Darts Championship before, and has tournament-winning pedigree, having claimed such American titles as the ADO Yoda's Jedi Master Tourney, the Ghost on the Coast and two Choo Choo Classics. No, genuinely.
There's a lot of talk by Beau Greaves, who started her tilt at the women's title in outstanding fashion. Next up, she'll face the winner of Sunday afternoon's meeting between Aileen de Graaf and Kirsty Hutchinson. The Dutch third seed is undoubtedly the favourite, yet has struggled to make her mark on this event. Hutchinson will feel she has what it takes to trouble de Graaf on debut.
Willem Mandigers and Michael Unterbuchner go head-to-head in the last tie of the afternoon. It's a repeat of last year's quarter-final, which the German won 5-4 in a thriller. Unterbuchner is the epitome of a big stage player; he has reached the semi-finals of the World Darts Championship on both visits, and was runner-up in last year's World Darts Trophy. He even made the last eight of the Grand Slam, but has otherwise gone missing. As a result, he's unseeded, and eighth seed Mandigers assumes the role of match favourite. When the Dutchman finds rhythm, he can hurt any opponent, and will be keen on revenge.
World Master targets double delight
There have been a lot of great stories in darts this year. John O'Shea's is right up there with the best. Having been about to quit darts, the Irishman turned up at the World Masters and stunned the darting world by taking the title. He's now aiming for a second major title. His World Darts Championship bid begins in the preliminary stage with a match against Swede Andreas Harryson. Win, and he'll set up a huge date with top seed Wesley Harms. Harryson will want to do what O'Shea did, however, and upset the narrative.
Two fan favourites meet in the evening's tie from the women's draw. The Post Office will have to do without Deta Hedman once again - but can the Heart of Darts finally return home with the World Darts Championship trophy in tow? Her Indigo stay begins on Sunday, and Laura Turner will be aiming to end it then too. Turner has talked the talk in her sterling punditry work, and now must walk the walk if she's to embark on a run of her own.
Paul Hogan can be a real handful at big tournaments. Many will remember that famous moment where he almost sent Glen Durrant packing two years ago. Fewer will remember that last year's outing didn't go anywhere near as well. Crocodile Dundee can set up a meeting with Adam Smith-Neale, but will need to beat Denmark Masters champion Brian Raman to do so.
The evening ends in double Dutch. Martijn Kleermaker swept up four titles in 2019, and goes into his debut as seventh seed. Unsurprisingly, he's among the tournament favourites. Even less surprising is the fact that he's planning to bail on the BDO and head into the PDC through Q-School. Opponent Gino Vos has been there, and done that. Having been to the Ally Pally twice, Vos now makes his BDO World Darts Championship debut. A wealth of experience belies his relatively young age (the Fox is just 29), and he won't be overawed by the mountainous Kleermaker.
BDO World Darts Championship 2020 schedule
Sunday January 5
Afternoon session (from 13:00)
Wayne Warren v Justin Thompson (R2)
Joe Chaney v Ben Hazel (R1)
Aileen de Graaf v Kirsty Hutchinson (R1 women)
Willem Mandigers v Michael Unterbuchner (R2)
Evening session (from 7 p.m.)
Andreas Harrysson v John O’Shea (R1)
Deta Hedman v Laura Turner (R1 women)
Paul Hogan v Brian Raman (R1)
Martijn Kleermaker v Gino Vos (R2)