Either the World Darts Championship seeds fancy a nice Christmas break, or something weird is happening.
Michael van Gerwen got through, not that he looked comfortable. But Rob Cross is gone. So too are Jermaine Wattimena and Ian White. Michael Smith, a finalist last year, is the latest to bow out. The supposed top 32 players at the World Darts Championship are dropping like flies (and that’s without mentioning that Jamie Hughes, who topped the Pro Tour Order of Merit, is also gone). An injury-ravaged fifth seed whose star is most definitely fading fits the bill when it comes to further potential scalps.
Let’s get to that later. The main craic with night four at the Alexandra Palace is the strong Irish vein running through it. Three from the south of the currently-not-hard border and one from the north of it all look to keep national interests alive. That starts with Steve Lennon, one of the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup heroes.
Callan Rydz will likely push the Carlow man all the way. Rydz, the undoubted star of the Challenge Tour, is a tricky draw. He won’t be known to the more casual viewer, but we’ll soon get used to the sight of the Geordie on TV. Can he make his World Darts Championship debut a great one? We’ve previewed the match here.
That’s not all – we’ve also covered the next game. That concerns William O’Connor, Lennon’s World Cup partner in crime. The Magpie will have watched the big names fall and considered his own prospects. If he can see off Marko Kantele, O’Connor would have Gerwyn Price. Let’s not forget that the Welshman hasn’t been great at the Ally Pally in the past. That would certainly put the cat among the pigeons.
Will Ando get Dolanised?
So would a 17-year-old winning a World Darts Championship tie. Keane Barry’s the first person of his age to make such an appearance at the PDC’s flagship event – though he isn’t the youngest. Barry is the favourite to become JDC world champion, and will push Vincent van der Voort all the way. The Dutch Destroyer sounds like a grumbling grandpa in most of his interviews, and will definitely look like one when playing an opponent who’d have to toast a victory with a soft drink. You better believe we’ve previewed this one, too.
Brendan Dolan has kicked off his tournament in fine fettle; Nitin Kumar played quite well, and yet the History Maker barely let the Indian qualifier have a sniff. He’s feeling good, and is gunning for a vulnerable seed at a time where the big names are queuing at the exit door. Gary Anderson is one of the greats, a two-time champion and a heavyweight scorer. But his 2019 has been fractured; on the rare occasions we’ve seen the Scot, he’s veered between his usual excellence and baffling displays. We just don’t know what version of the Flying Scotsman will show up. Even the best iteration would find it tough against Dolan at the moment.
And as a footnote, I’d like to give kudos to Dolan for his shirt, a loving tribute to godawful Christmas jumpers. Wonderfully tacky stuff.
World Darts Championship 2020 schedule
Monday December 16
19:10 Steve Lennon vs Callan Rydz (R1)
20:10 William O’Connor vs Marko Kantele (R1)
21:10 Vincent van der Voort vs Keane Barry (R1)
22:10 Gary Anderson  vs Brendan Dolan (R2)
Author: Ed McCosh