We’ve lost Peter Wright, and now Raymond van Barneveld. The PDC World Championship is hotting up.

There are still some World Championship first round games to be played before the rest of the seeds can have their fates decided. And in the first tie on Tuesday afternoon, we see a multiple PDC major winner. Rob Thornton has won the UK Open and the Grand Prix in his time. But his World Championship form is spotty, at best. Only once has the Scot got through the third round. He hasn’t even got that far in the past three years. Daniel Larsson, a PDC Nordic & Baltic qualifier alongside Darius Labanauskas, has plenty of experience despite being an Ally Pally debutant. And the Swede has more than enough to do to the Thorn what Labanauskas did to van Barneveld.
The second game could be a real blink-and-you-miss-it affair. Ricky Evans, a World Championship record-holder for fastest 180 thrown, hasn’t yet enjoyed more tangible success in this event. But after a breakthrough year, featuring a run to the Dutch Darts Championship final, he may not face a Rapid exit. His opponent is Rowby-John Rodriguez, the baby-faced Austrian whose record here stands as three games played, three lost. Raymond van Barneveld and Dave Chisnall (twice) have accounted for him. That said, the eldest of the Rodriguez darting clan won two sets last year, almost going all the way. Evans, good as he is, isn’t a Chisnall or van Barneveld just yet.

Kelly Deckers/PDC Europe

Photo: Kelly Deckers/PDC Europe

Little and large

James Wade’s second round opponent remains unknown. The battle to be that opponent is one of the big talking points of the first round. Krzysztof Ratajski has smashed the proverbial glass ceiling in 2018, winning three ranking events as a non-Tour Card holder. With his Tour Card now secured, the Pole’s first Ally Pally aim is to do better than last year’s limp first round exit to James Wilson. Seigo Asada also went out immediately last year; though that was to eventual champion Rob Cross, and the Japanese ace gave Cross a scare. The Ninja will strike if any weakness is exposed – and whoever faces Wade will have vaulted a huge hurdle to reach that point.
Closing out the afternoon’s play is a second round tie that is a real David vs Goliath affair. That’s normally metaphorical when used in sport. This time, it’s more literal, as Darren Webster goes head-to-hip with Vincent van der Voort. Webster was touted as a possible Premier League pick, but a patch of lousy form has left his chances in tatters. Only a strong run here could redeem the diminutive dynamo. Van der Voort isn’t an easy opening opponent, either. The question is whether the Dutchman, who was pushed hard by Lourence Ilagan, can take it up a level and appear head and shoulders above his seeded rival in more than the obvious sense.
Click here for more information about the PDC World Darts Championship, including schedules and the prize fund breakdown.

Afternoon session schedule

12:40 Robert Thornton v Daniel Larsson (R1)
13:45 Ricky Evans v Rowby-John Rodriguez (R1)
14:50 Krzysztof Ratajski v Seigo Asada (R1)
16:00 Darren Webster v Vincent van der Voort (R2)

Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

Photo: Pieter Verbeek/PV-Darts

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Author: Ed McCosh