Saturday 14 December could be a historic day at the World Darts Championship.

Of course, any day is a new addition to the history books. But we’ll discover tonight whether the story of one of darts’ most celebrated icons ends, or if there are still chapters to be written. Another former World Darts Championship winner kicks off their campaign tonight as well, and they face a tough test.

Yozza gets going

We’ll get on to possible farewells later. Every time a door closes, a window opens, so they say – and that’s true for the first two players taking to the Ally Pally stage on Saturday evening. Mark McGeeney earned himself a spot on the PDC Pro Tour at Q-School and, having excelled at the Lakeside, now gets a taste of the other World Darts Championship. He’s one win away from a guaranteed £15,000 – he needed to win three matches to earn the same amount at the Lakeside two years ago. Standing in his way is the Canadian Matt Campbell, who comes highly rated. More on them both in this preview here.

Jamie Hughes is one of those players who will inevitably be in the spotlight, even if on paper he’s not in title contention. Yozza has had a superb season, consistently throwing huge averages and looking more at home on the big stages. The Czech Darts Open champion could meet Krzysztof Ratajski in what would be a mouth-watering round two game. Then again, Zoran Lerchbacher might have something to say about that – especially when the Austrian is desperate for ranking gains. Here’s a preview we prepared earlier.

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Bye bye Barney?

On December 19 2006, Raymond van Barneveld appeared in his first PDC World Darts Championship match. He beat 16-year-old Mitchell Clegg 3-0, going on to win the title after an all-time great final. Almost 13 years on, there’s a chance this will be his Ally Pally adieu. Darin Young, who has bossed it in North America this year, will certainly hope so. But Barney’s recent performances – plus the partisan support he’ll definitely get – give the Barney Army plenty of hope. We’ve covered that tie as one of our 32 first round previews.

Like Barney, Rob Cross won the World Darts Championship at the very first attempt. He even beat the same man, Phil Taylor, in the final. But that proved to be the Dutchman’s last world title (unless…). Cross won’t want to suffer the same drought. It’s a real surprise that his name has dropped out of the discussion for likely winners – Colin Lloyd didn’t even mention Voltage when we spoke to him recently. This is the world number two, the World Matchplay champion, and someone who clearly relishes the big occasions. Cross could go all the way here. Or he could go out in round two, such is the joy of this tournament. Kim Huybrechts was far from his best in a gritty five-set over Geert Nentjes. With nerves hopefully now abated, the Hurricane will be aiming for a shock win.

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PDC World Darts Championship 2020 schedule

Saturday 14 December, evening session

19:10 – Mark McGeeney vs Matt Campbell (R1)

20:10 – Jamie Hughes vs Zoran Lerchbacher (R1)

21:10 – Raymond van Barneveld vs Darin Young (R1)

22:10 – Rob Cross vs Kim Huybrechts (R2)

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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Author: Ed McCosh