Jelle Klaasen will take on Kevin Burness in the first match of the 2020 PDC World Championship.

Read below for the first of 32 match previews for the World Championship first round ties.

Facts and figures

Match time/date: 19:00, December 13

Head-to-head record: Klaasen 2-0 Burness

Previous meeting: Klaasen 6-0 Burness, Players Championship 20 (July 2019)

Best major performance this season: Last 64, Players Championship Finals and UK Open (Klaasen); Last 128, UK Open (Burness)

Previous PDC World Championship appearances: Klaasen 11, Burness 1

Best PDC World Championship performance: Semi-final, 2016 (Klaasen); Last 64, 2019 (Burness)

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Preview

When the draw was made for the 2020 World Championship, a lot of eyes were drawn to the possible second round clash between Michael van Gerwen and Jelle Klaasen. “Clash” being the optimal word – the Dutch pair absolutely do not get on. But as the saying goes, don’t count your chickens until they hatch.

Kevin Burness will feel like he can spoil that slated Dutch grudge match. The Northern Irishman was here a year ago as the Tom Kirby Memorial winner; he beat Paul Nicholson before falling to Gary Anderson. This time around, he has battled through a PDPA qualifier stacked with talented players. Having been one of the more consistent performers throughout that qualifier, Burness will feel good about his chances.

Klaasen, the former BDO world champion, will be the favourite on paper. Having a decade’s worth of World Championship more than the man 19 years his senior helps, too. But this isn’t the man who powered into the semi-finals four years ago. The Cobra is frustrating even at the best of times, and a lack of consistency means he can sometimes go missing at key moments. The 35-year-old is a ferocious scorer when he’s at his flowing best. Whether he can find that form at the Ally Pally might be a mystery even to him.

Prediction

It’s hard to see Klaasen getting through this unscathed. Burness punished Nicholson last year, and knows how to take his chances. But the world number 48’s superior scoring will just about edge it. We’ll go for Klaasen 3-2 Burness here.

Stefan Straßenburg/PDC Europe

Photo: Stefan Straßenburg/PDC Europe

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Author: Ed McCosh