The two sides BDO World Championship were both set new benchmarks on Monday.

Paul Hogan and Mikuru Suzuki threw the best averages of the men’s and women’s tournaments respectively. The former came agonisingly close to the first BDO World Darts Championship nine-darter since Paul Lim’s famous effort three decades ago. A 97.51 average was still enough to send Adam Smith-Neale home, while Suzuki kept up her recent form with an 84.92 average to turn a one-set deficit against Maria O’Brien into a victory.

Another Monday winner was Nick Fullwell, who produced a strong performance to see off David Cameron. He’ll need more of the same to beat David Evans, who has made it to 14th seed on debut. Evans did enough to qualify for the UK Open earlier this year and has also beat Gary Anderson in a PDC floor event. The 30-year-old will feel equipped to beat Fullwell, but will be wary of the Midlands ace gaining momentum.

Nick Kenny springs into action on Tuesday as well, with the sixth seed playing against Dutch debutant Dennie Olde Kalter. That’s followed by another Dutch thrower in Sharon Prins. She meets Anastasia Dobromyslova, the three-time world champion. Dobromyslova has reached a final and two semi-finals in the last three seasons – can she go a step further this year, and scoop up a prize fund being bolstered by husband Tony Martin’s fundraising efforts?

Justin Hood, like Nick Fullwell, averaged 90 in an excellent opening win on Monday. There was also an unforgettable leg featuring six perfect darts, followed by busting a 60 checkout by hitting the treble 20 – a true World Darts Championship highlight. The Somerset ace will be out to cause third seed Richard Veenstra a major headache.

Bennett’s first of many

Gary Robson has lost his first game at each of his last three World Darts Championship outings. That might provide some encouragement for Ben Hazel, who overcame Joe Chaney in his first game, but Robson’s capable of producing some top quality darts.

So too is Lisa Ashton, the top seed and favourite to wrestle back the women’s title. She opens against Paula Jacklin, who has never won a set at the World Darts Championship. After defeats to Ashton and Aileen de Graaf (three times) in the past four years, can she give the Jacklin name a handy PR boost? It’ll take a huge effort to dismantle the Lancashire Rose.

Leighton Bennett will play at many a senior World Darts Championship, that’s for sure. But this is his first, which makes it a huge deal. The 14-year-old isn’t expected to go the distance, particularly as he plays 2015 world champion and England star Scott Mitchell. But his explosive style will make him a real handful for Scotty Dog. Mitchell will have taken notes from Vincent van der Voort’s win over Keane Barry at the Alexandra Palace, and won’t underestimate the player 35 years his junior. Bennett will be back no matter what – he plays Keane Barry in the youth final later this week.

The last tie of the day brings Thibault Tricole back into the mix. Having become the first Frenchman to appear at a World Darts Championship, Tricole then scored a first win for his nation. It was a tight affair against Ross Montgomery, and the cool 76 checkout that sealed success will have done his confidence the world of good. Rather than playing his fellow Scot, Ryan Hogarth now plays a dangerous debutant with the bit between his teeth. Whoever wins this one will face Jim Williams in the Last 16.

Chris Sargeant/Tip Top Pics

Photo: Chris Sargeant/Tip Top Pics

Check out the schedule for the opening rounds of the BDO World Darts Championship 2020 here.

BDO World Darts Championship 2020 preview

Tuesday, January 7
Afternoon session (from 13:00)

David Evans v Nick Fullwell (R2)
Nick Kenny v Dennie Olde Kalter (R2)
Anastasia Dobromyslova v Sharon Prins (R1 women)
Richard Veenstra v Justin Hood (R2)

Evening session (from 7 p.m.)

Gary Robson v Ben Hazel (R2)
Lisa Ashton v Paula Jacklin (R1)
Scott Mitchell v Leighton Bennett (R2)
Ryan Hogarth v Thibault Tricole (R2)

Chris Sargeant/Tip Top Pics

Photo: Chris Sargeant/Tip Top Pics

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Author: Ed McCosh