Hi, darts fans. It’s Steve Beaton Day at the PDC World Darts Championship.

Thursday afternoon’s play gives the indication that the World Darts Championship is going up a notch. There are just two first round ties left; after that it’s round two only until Sunday.

On Saturday, either Justin Pipe or Benjamin Pratnemer will be taking on Daryl Gurney. Pipe will be the favourite to take on Superchin; after all, we don’t know a huge amount about Pratnemer. But the favourite tag often comes to nothing at the World Darts Championship, and Pratnemer was good enough to claim the Eastern European qualifier’s berth. The Slovenian was most prominent at the BDO World Masters, but it’s here that he’ll step before a massive Ally Pally crowd and a global TV audience. If he’s up to the challenge, this will be a tough one for Pipe. But in a week where the last movie of the Star Wars saga hits UK cinemas, perhaps it’s time for The Force. I promise that this match preview features zero awful segues. Though a certain infamous cough gets a mention, naturally.

Amid all the media focus on Fallon Sherrock’s momentous World Darts Championship win, two players who were part of the road to that famous Tuesday night meet on Thursday afternoon, very much out of the limelight. Ryan Joyce and Jan Dekker were the first to face female foes since the introduction of women’s qualifiers. Dekker was given a scare by Lisa Ashton; Joyce had no problem against Anastasia Dobromyslova, and ended up having a brilliant tournament. Only one can be the last player into round two – and we’ve predicted the outcome here.

Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Merry Christmas, Henderson

The third match of the session could easily have been John Henderson versus Mikuru Suzuki. In the end, James Richardson just about held off the women’s world champion. Having scrapped his way through, he faces the 30th seed in the less pressurised underdog role. Interestingly, the winner of this match has a healthy rest – they wouldn’t play their third round match against Gerwyn Price or William O’Connor until December 27. Both can give it their all, knowing that a win guarantees a restful Christmas and more World Darts Championship fun before all the leftover turkey’s gone.

Steve Beaton glides onto the Ally Pally stage while aiming to try and arrest some hideous World Darts Championship form. The last time he got past the second round of this tournament, Keane Barry was two years old. It’s utterly baffling. The Bronzed Adonis is consistently among the world’s best (he’s 25th seed here) but struggles to convert quality into tangible success.

Kyle Anderson is afflicted with exactly the same issue. The Original, on his day, can outscore anyone at all. The problem is that those days don’t come often enough. A strong comeback saved his skin against Xiaochen Zong, and now he can aim to negotiate his own way past second round, having managed that for the first time in six attempts a year ago. One disproportionately poor record will be maintained here, but either Beaton or Anderson can work towards an outlying success. James Wade awaits the winner of this one.

PDC World Darts Championship 2020 schedule

Thursday December 19, afternoon session

Justin Pipe vs Benjamin Pratnemer (R1)

Ryan Joyce vs Jan Dekker (R1)

John Henderson vs James Richardson (R2)

Steve Beaton vs Kyle Anderson (R2)

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

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Author: Ed McCosh