The opening night has been and gone. We’re now into the daily grind of the PDC World Darts Championship.
Though a grind it isn’t. Even in a rather sedate Friday afternoon session we’ve got two debutants. There are two veterans bouncing back after a hiatus. The Challenge Tour champion. And on top of that, the shock 2018 PDC World Darts Championship semi-finalist makes his Ally Pally return. Not bad, eh?
Michael Barnard is back after a decade away. The 32-year-old Barnard was thrashed 3-0 by Andy Hamilton at the first hurdle. The 42-year-old Barnard comes into his World Championship return as the favorite, and on a high following a dominant year on the Challenge Tour. His opponent is Jose de Sousa, who himself has been at the Ally Pally before. He lost in the preliminary round to Devon Petersen, but the Catalonia-based Portuguese player will be after an attainable scalp.
The second tie introduces a rookie in Australia’s Raymond Smith. His big stage coup de grace was a Brisbane Darts Masters win over Michael Smith earlier this year. That earned him a spot at the World Series of Darts Finals, where he beat Keegan Brown before losing a last-leg decider to Raymond van Barneveld. Smith will see Alan Tabern as very beatable. Tabern only regained his Tour Card in January, and has not made an impact on the Tour this year. But with this being his eighth PDC World Championship achievement, the St Helens-based thrower has experience on his side.
Paul Nicholson hasn’t been away from the limelight, as a popular commentator and pundit. But in darting terms, this marks the former Players Championship Finals champion’s return from the wilderness. He meets Kevin Burness, who saw off Mick McGowan to claim the Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay and a spot at the Ally Pally. The so-called prize for the winner is a second round match against the ominous Gary Anderson.
This time last year, Jamie Lewis was a qualifier taken to a third set by Kenny Neyens. But the Belgian was dispatched, in the end. So too was Jonny Clayton. Peter Wright received an almighty shock. James Richardson was seen off, and Darren Webster was whitewashed. Though Phil Taylor ended the story, what a story it was. And now the Welshman goes into this game as a semi-finalist and the 28th seed. But Cody Harris did well to overcome Martin Schindler. It still felt like the New Zealander had another gear or two to go through, as well. This will be far from easy for Lewis. After all the odds-busting last year, now he needs to make sure a giant-killing is avoided.
Click here for more information about the PDC World Darts Championship, including schedules and the prize fund breakdown.
Friday December 14
Afternoon Session (1230)
12:30 Michael Barnard v Jose De Sousa (R1)
13:30 Alan Tabern v Raymond Smith (R1)
14:30 Paul Nicholson v Kevin Burness (R1)
15:30 Jamie Lewis v Cody Harris (R2)
Author: Ed McCosh