Well, it’s finally happened. We’ve had a fairly regular day at the World Darts Championship.

It didn’t all go with the formbook. But Steve Lennon’s narrow defeat to Challenge Tour winner and all-round exciting prospect Callan Rydz isn’t a seismic shock. Gary Anderson cantered through, and William O’Connor didn’t need to get out of second gear. Anyone who had a badly-timed sneezing fit missed the entirety of Keane Barry’s sensationally speedy World Darts Championship debut. The Irish youngster was superb; Vincent van der Voort was just a bit better.

Will we have some closer ties on Tuesday afternoon? Robbie King will certainly hope so. There’s no doubt that the Aussie’s a real outside shot against Ryan Searle. But the rough ride his compatriot Kyle Anderson was given by Xiaochen Zong is a indication of how much pressure he can pile on. Click here to take a look at our detailed Searle-King preview.

All Filipino hopes are pinned on games two and three of this session. First up is Lourence Ilagan, who has been the leading light on the Asian Tour. Ilagan hasn’t shown his best at the World Darts Championship, despite having three previous bites at the apple. Cristo Reyes hasn’t had a great season, and is vulnerable. The winner would wait four days before a second round meeting with Adrian Lewis – would that break the momentum which seems to have helped giant-killers at this tournament. We’ve covered this game right here.

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Zoran out to clip Eagle’s wings

Part two of our Philippines spectacular is Noel Malicdem taking on Rowby-John Rodriguez. Malicdem had a great debut last year; Brendan Dolan thrashing Joe Cullen snatched the headlines, but his scrappy win over Jeffrey de Graaf was a great moment for him, and darts in his continent. He faces Rodriguez, who scalped Ricky Evans a year ago but has done little of note since. In our preview, we’ve backed Malicdem to go two from two in World Darts Championship first round games. 

With all due respect to Zoran Lerchbacher, almost everyone thought we’d see this session end with Krzysztof Ratajski playing Jamie Hughes. But Lerchbacher was switched on, and kept pace with a player who can outscore pretty much anyone. Trebles for show, doubles for dough, as they say. The Austrian doubled his with victory over Hughes, meaning we’ll see more of the Hyperkane in 2020.

Ratajski is new among the seeds; it’s fair reward for another stunning season. The Polish Eagle keeps on soaring – he’s due a big run at a major. But there seem to be a lot of players in that bracket – including Hughes, who Lerchbacher took care of. Ratajski has to earn that first World Darts Championship. Then he has to beat Nathan Aspinall or Danny Baggish, and whoever comes next. The multiple-time event winner has to strike while the iron’s hot. There are a lot of players out there still ruing missed opportunities when purple patches have faded. We all know from recent experience that if Ratajski isn’t ruthless, Lerchbacher is more than capable of punishing him.

Click here for more information on the PDC World Championship, which takes place at the Alexandra Palace between December 13 and January 1.

World Darts Championship 2020 schedule

Tuesday December 17, afternoon session

12:40 Ryan Searle vs Robbie King (R1)
13:30 Cristo Reyes vs Lourence Ilagan (R1)
14:30 Rowby-John Rodriguez vs Noel Malicdem (R1)
15:30 Krzysztof Ratajski vs Zoran Lerchbacher (R2)

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Foto: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

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Author: Ed McCosh