Folks, the big one is back. Here we go again for the 2019 PDC World Darts Championship, live from London.
It’s now a year since a scintillating 2018 edition saw Rob Cross become world champion on debut. There was Phil Taylor’s thrilling World Darts Championship farewell. Jamie Lewis’ record run. Paul Lim almost becoming the first person to hit PDC and BDO nine-darters. Henderson, Brown and Munch causing shocks. Cross vs Smith, van den Bergh and van Gerwen all being frankly ridiculous. What on earth could the 2019 edition bring?
First on the oche at the Alexandra Palace for this year’s dose of darting drama is Jeffrey de Zwaan, facing Nitin Kumar. De Zwaan has been here before, losing in a sudden-death leg to Michael Smith three years ago. He has grown since then, and has knocked Michael van Gerwen out of two majors.
But this time de Zwaan is the Goliath, rather than the David. His opponent is Nitin Kumar, the first ever beneficiary of the Indian Qualifier. Kumar knows it’s a tough job, but with punters already calling a de Zwaan vs Cross second round tie, the 33-year-old would absolutely love to tear up the script.
With everything else going on, Martin Schindler’s match with Cody Harris has become a little bit of a footnote. It’s not fair on a truly talented pair of players. Schindler has grown a lot in 2018 – it feels like a good stage run like the one enjoyed by compatriot Max Hopp is what he needs to go to the next level. Harris, New Zealand’s next great hope for a while now, is well known as a player who can score well. This one could go either way. And the winner will absolutely cause problems for 2018 semi-finalist Jamie Lewis.
There’s a lot of buzz around the third game of the night. Not so much concerning Jan Dekker, a regular on the Ally Pally stage. Lisa Ashton, the four-time women’s world champion, will be mixing it with the best of the best at the first of two World Championships she’ll be challenging for in the space of six weeks.
Though it isn’t right to put so much pressure on Ashton, there’s a feeling in some quarters that she could prove the worth of the dedicated women’s qualifier spot here. Female darts couldn’t really have a better pioneer. Ashton has proved time and time again that she is capable of big averages, and excellent finishes. In the Finder Darts Masters final she notched up an 88 average over three sets, and it still felt like another level is there. Perhaps a tie against Dekker, who is a good player but not exactly a major regular this year, will unlock that next gear.
Rob Cross also had a lot to prove a year ago – he went and proved it too, becoming the world champion as a rookie. That incredible level of darts he reached a year ago hasn’t been matched this season. There are a number of personal reasons for that. Perhaps above all, Voltage set the bar remarkably high for himself. He’s already being written off, with plenty suggesting he’s likely to lose to de Zwaan. But it’s not even certain he’ll meet the Dutchman quite yet. And his critics would do well to remind themselves that he thrives on the Ally Pally stage. Should Cross get through this, the new world number two can’t be ruled out of going on another big run.
Click here for more information about the PDC World Darts Championship, including schedules and the prize fund breakdown.
December 13 schedule
19:10 Jeffrey de Zwaan vs Nitin Kumar
20:10 Martin Schindler vs Cody Harris
21:10 Jan Dekker vs Lisa Ashton
22:10 Rob Cross vs de Zwaan/Kumar
Author: Ed McCosh