Two of 2019’s breakout stars appear in a hotly-anticipated PDC World Championship tie.

Jose de Sousa and Damon Heta will meet in one of the standout fixtures of the first round. They’ll follow on from Boris Koltsov and Ritchie Edhouse, whose preview you can read here. Click here if you’re after the full World Championship schedule.

Facts and figures

Match time/date: 20:00, December 17

Head-to-head record: First meeting

Previous meeting: N/A

Best major performance this season: Last 32, Players Championship Finals (de Sousa); N/A (Heta)

Previous PDC World Championship appearances: De Sousa 2, Heta 0

Best PDC World Championship performance: First Round, 2019 (De Sousa); N/A (Heta)

David Callow/PDC

Photo: David Callow/PDC

Preview

If you listed the best surprise performers of 2019, odds are that Jose de Sousa and Damon Heta would be right up at the top. As fate and the draw should have it, they come together for what should be an entertaining first round tie.

Jose de Sousa became the first Portuguese player to appear at a darts world championship, eight years ago. After losing in the preliminary round, he went entirely under the radar. That was until last year, when he suddenly returned for a game against Michael Barnard which was a bit terribly brilliant, a bit brilliantly terrible. Encouraged by his performance, he went to European Q-School and grabbed a Tour Card. It’s fair to say that he hasn’t looked back.

Reaching three Players Championship finals is impressive. Winning two of them, one by thrashing Gerwyn Price, is remarkable. De Sousa is clawing his way up the rankings, but hasn’t yet made much of an impact on any major. If he can find his stage legs at the World Championship, he’ll be more than a match for anyone. And will we see some mad checkout routes? My gut says yes.

When the Brisbane Darts Masters kicked off earlier this year, there weren’t many questions about how the local players would do, besides Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson. But then came Damon Heta. James Wade was edged out, Gary Anderson negotiated. Whitlock fell victim to a brilliant comeback. The cool Heta showed in a last-leg win over Rob Cross in the final was that of someone who belongs at the top table.

And here he is. Heta earned his spot by topping the DPA standings, and after the World Championship he’ll be at Q-School. Unless his run here gets him enough ranking money to claim a 2020 Tour Card, of course.

Prediction

Despite the fact that Heta is clearly a fantastic player, who has proved it against the biggest names in the game (the Brisbane Darts Masters wasn’t a one-off; he thrashed Wade again in Melbourne), it feels like this game hinges on if de Sousa can find his A-game on stage. It wasn’t there against Barnard last year, and he was punished for missing key chances at the match. The Portuguese has had a year on the Pro Tour to hone his skills though, and he’ll be a different prospect. Jose de Sousa 3-1 Damon Heta is what we’ll go for here. Whoever wins will be a seriously tricky opponent for Glen Durrant in round two.

PDC

Photo: PDC

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Author: Ed McCosh