It’s a youthful encounter at the World Championship when Steve Lennon meets Callan Rydz.

The two up-and-coming stars, whose combined age is less than that of Gary Anderson, collide at the Ally Pally. This is the latest in our run through all 32 PDC World Championship first round previews. In case you missed the last one, you can find James Richardson vs Mikuru Suzuki here.

Facts and figures

Match time/date: 19:00, December 16

Head-to-head record: Lennon 1-0 Rydz

Previous meeting: Lennon 4-1 Rydz, Development Tour 8 (March 2017)

Best major performance this season: Last 16, UK Open (Lennon); Last 160, UK Open (Rydz)

Previous PDC World Championship appearances: Lennon 2, Rydz 0

Best PDC World Championship performance: Last 64, 2018 & 2019 (Lennon); N/A (Rydz)

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Preview

Two players with very bright long-term futures will be vying to give their short-term prospects a big nudge at the World Championship. Callan Rydz is a newcomer, but is well known to keen darts followers. To them, it’s no surprise that he’s on the biggest stage of all. The Geordie’s recent history is impressive, even if he hasn’t always enjoyed a happy ending. At the last two editions of PDC Q-School, only countback denied him a Tour Card. And in the 2018 & 2019 World Youth Championships, his run was ended by the eventual runner-up, in the semi-finals and quarter-finals respectively. Despite those cruellest of cuts, the 21-year-old has continued to show a lot of promise.

He won a first Development Tour title this year, but it was in the Challenge Tour where Rydz really shone. Two events win and one runner-up placing meant that he saw off a highly talented and experienced field to top the Challenge Tour Order of Merit. Of course, that means that the 2020 Tour Card is secured. It means Rydz can tackle the World Championship with no pressure on him at all. The youngster’s major experience is lacking, but he has been to one this year; a trip to the UK Open brought an excellent round one performance for a debutant. His 91 average would’ve beaten most opponents. Unfortunately, Jamie Hughes isn’t like most people.

Rydz takes on a Development Tour alumnus, Irish star Steve Lennon. While he isn’t an explosive – and erratic – talent like countryman William O’Connor, the Carlow ace is at the forefront of Irish darts. The pair teamed up brilliantly in the summer to stun England and the Netherlands en route to the World Cup of Darts Finals. Lennon was at his cool, measured best in that week. While this season hasn’t been vintage for the 25-year-old, he has shown a bit of what makes him an exciting player. The World Championship offers a chance to end the season in style.

Prediction

There’s no doubt that Rydz will make this hard for Lennon, but it feels like the Irishman will have enough. He isn’t immune to nerves, but with his methodical style, Lennon is one of those players who can fall back on his approach to help him through even when not playing at his best. Steve Lennon 3-1 Callan Rydz is a prediction reflecting Lennon’s quality, rather than a comment on Rydz. Both will be back for many more attempts at the Sid Waddell Trophy.

Danny Noppert faces the winner of this game. Whoever’s good enough to get through this tie will be more than a match for the 31st seed.

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

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Author: Ed McCosh