2021 PDC World Darts Championship schedule: Saturday evening session including Van Gerwen, Hedman and Hamilton
There are all sorts of headlines to be made on Saturday night at the PDC World Darts Championship.
First of all, there's an opening clash featuring one man on the up and one on the way back. Nico Kurz fended off stiff competition to claim the German Superleague spot. He's a hugely exciting talent, and the motivation of a second round game against Gabriel Clemens will surely see him bring out the big guns.
It's fantastic to see Andy Hamilton back at the Ally Pally, nine years after reaching the final. Once again, it's Hammer Time. Over his first year back on the Pro Tour, Hamilton hasn't yet made waves, but has shown flashes of quality. Perhaps the Palace is the place to unlock the old magic.
If anyone at all deserved the full Alexandra Palace experience, it's Deta Hedman. She won't get the adulation of the crowds, but one of the game's great enduring stars now has the chance to star in the biggest tournament there is. She has bags of experience and a rock-steady throwing style; the big challenge here will be scoring well and consistently.
Hedman faces Andy Boulton, who himself has found some decent form, thanks in part to the PDC Home Tour. The X Factor has yet to win a World Championship game. Now's the right time for him, particularly with a vulnerable seed in Stephen Bunting awaiting in round two. Don't write off Hedman though - a winner of myriad events, she knows how to handle pressure.
Damon Heta's 2020 has gone better than possibly any other player, bar those who lifted major titles. Appearing on the Pro Tour for the first time, the Australian has won a floor event and reached two major quarter-finals, establishing himself as one of the steadiest throwers in the business. A lot of people are backing Heta to battle through his quarter of the draw, and with good cause.
Heta has become a bit of a role model for the aspiring darts stars around the world - of those tipped to follow in his footsteps, Danny Baggish is right up there. The Floridian is a big scorer, and a big celebrator, which made his games against Andy Boulton and Nathan Aspinall last year real thrill rides. This will be a tough bout for Heta, but one the Aussie has shown himself capable of handling.
And if all that isn't enough for you, we've got the world number one in action to end the night. What do these World Championships have in store for Michael van Gerwen? Nothing but the title will do for the Green Machine. Looking at his draw, you'd expect him to make light work of the first two or three opponents, if he finds that A-game that keeps flitting in and out.
Should that not happen, anyone could take advantage. Hoping to prevent Van Gerwen from reaching the third round for the first time in a decade is Ryan Murray. The Scot showed real bottle to hold Lourence Ilagan at arm's length, recovering well from a poor second set, and winning two sets by taking the deciding leg. Even more is needed against Van Gerwen, even if that Mighty Mike magic doesn't avail itself.
2021 PDC World Darts Championship schedule
Saturday December 19
Evening Session (18:00 GMT)
18:10 Andy Hamilton v Nico Kurz (R1)
19:10 Andy Boulton v Deta Hedman (R1)
20:10 Damon Heta v Danny Baggish (R1)
21:10 Michael van Gerwen v Ryan Murray (R2)