William O’Connor and Marko Kantele meet for the first time in the grand setting of the 2020 PDC World Championship.

Earlier on, we covered O’Connor’s countryman Steve Lennon, who plays Callan Rydz in round one. O’Connor vs Kantele is next up on our agenda as we profile and preview all 32 World Championship first round ties. For the full tournament schedule, click here.

Facts and figures

Match time/date: 20:00, December 16

Head-to-head record: First meeting

Previous meeting: N/A

Best major performance this season: Quarter-finals, Players Championship Finals (O’Connor); Last 128, UK Open (Kantele)

Previous PDC World Championship appearances: O’Connor 2, Kantele 2

Best PDC World Championship performance: Last 32, 2019 (O’Connor); Last 64, 2009 & 2018 (Kantele)

PDC

Photo: PDC

Preview

William O’Connor vs Gerwyn Price in the second round of the World Championship? You can practically smell the adrenaline.

Well, let’s dial it back a little. O’Connor can’t afford to look that far ahead. But there’s no doubt that as one of the stars of 2019 in the PDC, the Magpie is one to watch. The Limerick thrower has been poetry in motion at times this season, enjoying a few milestones along the way. There was the Players Championship title in Barnley, this very tasty nine darter, a quarter-final at the recent Players Championship…oh, and possibly the best World Cup of Darts campaign of all time, alongside Steve Lennon. The 33-year-old has edged his way up into the upper echelons of the game, and will have the aim of being among the World Championship seeds this time next year.

Conversely, Marko Kantele may be scrapping for his Tour Card 12 months from now. The Fin only won it back in January, performing superbly at European Q-School. But he achieved very little of note over the season. In fact, he only qualifies after finishing second in the PDC Nordic & Baltic standings. If there’s one thing Kantele can bank on, it’s a wealth of experience. Indeed, there are only 12 players at this year’s World Championship who also attended his Ally Pally debut 11 years ago. Among them is the man he beat for his only World Championship win to date, Lourence Ilagan. Can he roll back the years to spring a shock?

Prediction.

…no. He can’t. Well, maybe Kantele can. But the sensible money’s on O’Connor here. He’ll be motivated, he’s in good form, and the Irishman will score prolifically. If he gets through this, fans will be licking their lips at the thought of a clash with Price. William O’Connor 3-0 Marko Kantele is a safe bet on paper. Not that this tournament always respects the odds.

Stefan Strassenburg/PDC Europe

Photo: Stefan Strassenburg/PDC Europe

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Author: Ed McCosh