Ron Meulenkamp and Ben Robb kick off the first Wednesday of the PDC World Championship 2020.

Their midweek tussle will be the 25th of the first round clashes. We’re previewing all 32 of them – it was Ted Evetts against Fallon Sherrock last time out. The schedule for every one of those 32 games, and the rest, can be found here.

Facts and figures

Match time/date: 12:30, December 18

Head-to-head record: First meeting

Previous meeting: N/A

Best major performance this season: Last 64, Players Championship Finals (Meulenkamp); N/A (Robb)

Previous PDC World Championship appearances: Meulenkamp 3, Robb 0

Best PDC World Championship performance: Second Round, 2019 (Meulenkamp); N/A (Robb)

Rachael Jones/DPA

Photo: Rachael Jones/DPA

Preview

New Zealand is a consistent producer of good darts players, be it the exciting Haupai Puha, Tahuna Irwin and Cody Harris, or the veteran campaigners that are Rob Szabo, Craig Caldwell or Warren Parry. Ben Robb stood out above them all to be the nation’s representative at the World Championship. The 31-year-old was in top form at the DPNZ qualifier, winning every match by a clear margin. Factor in a strong performance at the NZ Darts Masters, where he averaged 96 in both a win over Simon Whitlock and defeat to Rob Cross, and it’s clear that Robb isn’t here to make up the numbers.

He’ll make his Ally Pally debut against Ron Meulenkamp, who has had a solid if unspectacular season. There have been four floor semi-finals, which is good going – the Bomb turned out to be 23rd seed at the Players Championship Finals. Cruel fate placed him against world number two Cross. Defeat in Minehead, and in the UK Open at the same venue against Adam Hunt, means that the Dutchman hasn’t actually won at a major this year. The World Championship is as good a place as any to start.

Prediction

Meulenkamp can call upon memories of last year as preparation for this. Diogo Portela was similarly a talented international qualifier who pushed hard; the left-hander was alright in the end. It remains to be seen if Robb can bring the ability he’s shown in New Zealand across the world, but if he can it’ll be a tight one. Ron Meulenkamp 3-1 Ben Robb is our call, however – Meulenkamp will lean on the experience he has to seal a second round game against Chris Dobey.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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Author: Ed McCosh