Eight different countries are represented on a diverse night of PDC World Championship darts.
Kicking things off at the Ally Pally, an Irishman and an Australian walk onto an oche. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Steve Lennon looks destined to be one of those players who pops up regularly at the World Championship. Since losing to Michael Smith this time last year, the Carlow thrower has appeared at the World Matchplay, the Grand Prix, the European Championship Finals and the Players Championship Finals, where he reached the last eight. Throw in a Dutch Darts Masters final, and it adds up to a good year for Lennon. Those good vibes could dissipate if Oceanic Masters winner Bailey, a debutant, causes a shock in London.
The darting world swayed to the Samba beat last year, as Diogo Portela became the first Brazilian to play in the PDC’s main event. Peter Wright ended the dream last year, but Portela is back with fresh new ambitions. He faces the tricky Ron Meulenkamp, who has so far appeared at two BDO and two PDC World Championships, and lost in the first round every time. The winner gets a crack at Michael Smith.
Good times never seemed so good
Dimitri van den Bergh, now the defending two-time world youth champion, keeps causing a stir on the big stage. There was his magnificent showdown with Rob Cross on this stage last year. The Belgian then powered through to the German Darts Masters final, beating Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson en route. His zenith, though, was that memorable nine-darter against Stephen Bunting at the Grand Slam. Yet he must battle through a first round tie against Chuck Puleo before he has another crack at toppling a big name. Puleo will want that plum tie against Jonny Clayton for himself. There’s no doubting that the American has ability – now it’s about having the nerve to take on someone who, although much younger, already has amassed big stage experience.
A rousing rendition of Sweet Caroline will see us home on Tuesday evening. It marks the entrance of Daryl Gurney, winner of the Players Championship Finals – and therefore arguably the form horse of the World Championship. Gurney was kicking himself last year as a defeat to John Henderson saw him spin out of contention. He’ll be eyeing up a potential quarter-final against Gary Anderson this time. But Superchin first has to make sure that Ross Smith doesn’t cause an upset. Smith held his nerve to quieten the crowd and defeat the legendary Paul Lim in the first round. He’ll need more of that steel, and some extra scoring power, to make Gurney sweat.
Click here for more information about the PDC World Darts Championship, including schedules and the prize fund breakdown.
Evening session schedule
19:10 Steve Lennon v James Bailey (R1)
20:10 Ron Meulenkamp v Diogo Portela (R1)
21:10 Dimitri van den Bergh v Chuck Puleo (R1)
22:10 Daryl Gurney v Ross Smith (R2)
Author: Ed McCosh