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Updated: 17 min 7 sec ago

Phil Taylor dominates the east coast of Australia

Phil Taylor continued his dominance on the east coast of Australia in major televised dart tournaments as he took out the Brisbane leg of the Pro Darts Series on Thursday Evening. The final came down to two Stoke natives going head to head as a resurgent Andy Hamilton took on Taylor.
The final itself was one way traffic as Taylor was victorious 7 legs to nil.
Andy Hamilton had the first throw but it was Taylor who got out of the blocks faster as he moved quickly to 180. With Hamilton only on 208 a 140 left Taylor on tops and at his next visit Taylor got the check out with a double ten on his last dart at hand. In the next leg Taylor threw a 123 and then a maximum to leave himself on 198. He completed the leg with another double ten to go two up.
Through the middle of the match it was all Phil Taylor including visits of 100 and 180 which left him on 125 in the fourth leg. After a less successful visit Taylor converted 79 with a treble 13 and tops. The fifth leg saw Taylor move from 177 to tops which he collected at his next visit.
In the sixth leg Taylor opened with a maximum and quickly moved to 136. He left tops but missed all three attempts at his next visit, leaving himself double 10. Hamilton was on 134 but left tops. Taylor missed double ten at his next visit but got double five at the first attempt to go six up. In what turned out to be the final leg Taylor opened with another 180 and then hit another treble twenty before missing that same target with his fifth dart (although he did get it with his sixth peg.) With Hamilton a long way behind Taylor converted to make the final a whitewash 7-0.
Overall Taylor was delighted with the result and said that he was enjoying this new phase of his life. It certainly has started successfully for him. The tournament now turns towards the Gold Coast next week.

TAYLOR WIN DOWN UNDER

Less than a fortnight after retiring from the PDC in the final of the World Championships, Phil Taylor was back at the oche at the Pro Darts Series in Brisbane on Wednesday Night. He took on Raymond Smith and early on the match was tight but with Smith unable to make the most of his early chances after taking a leg off Taylor, it was the 16 time World Champion who gained the momentum and continued his success on the east coast of Australia with a 6-1 victory.
Taylor was certainly pleased with how things went, “I had fun out there tonight, the lad played well and I needed to play well against him. I was really happy with the whole match. It is great to be able to enjoy my darts and spend more time discovering Australia.”
Earlier in the night his next round opponent was set as Rhys Mathewson continued on his way of upsetting the big names in televised completion by defeating American superstar Johnny K 6-3. Mathewson, whilst not completely on top of his game, was able to withhold the mini revivals his opponent had throughout the match with consistent, if not always spectacular, darts.
The next round also saw a match between Australian legends set as Russell Stewart defeated Tic Bridge 6-4, and Robbie King took out Jamie Harvey. 6-3 to make it into the second night.
Andy Hamilton had kicked off the night with a good win over Lewis Kirk 6-1. After the match we was happy with his progress. “I enjoyed myself tonight, I felt at times the timing coming back but it needs to be more consistent still.”
In the next round Hammer will take on Aussie hero Kyle Anderson which promises to be spectacular. Hamilton defeated Lewis Kirk 6-1 in the first match of the night whilst Anderson kept the locals happy with a 6-4 win over Tahuna Tahu. For the Kiwi it was a great way to start his career on the big stage as he fought hard to see off Anderson only to find himself unable to hold out Anderson in the end. That half of the draw also includes Stewart and King.
Taylor and Mathewson are also on the side of the draw by the match created after Simon Whitlock saw off Lucas Cameron 6-0 and Ray O’Donnell, all the way from Broken Hill, upset the African Warrior, Devon Peterson by 6 legs to 4.
The opening night of the pro darts series was a spectacular success and there is surely more to come on night two.
Order of play night 2
Quarter Finals
Best of 13 legs
Russell Stewart v Robbie King
Simon Whitlock v Ray Odonnell
Phil Taylor v Rhys Mathewson
Kyle Anderson v Andy Hamilton

International Pro Darts Series 2018

The draw was made on Tuesday night for all four events across Brisbane, Gold Coast, Townsville and Mackay in the Pro Darts Series. Sponsored by CUB (Cougar Brand), UBET, Formula Sports, Newscorp, Rydges, Helloworld Travel and Target Darts.
Hosted by MC Russ Bray the draw covered all the events across January Will Evans, the Sports Marketing Manager of UBET, and Key Accounts Manager at CUB Michael Parlby drew the numbers on the night and there were some juicy matches in the preliminary rounds.
The Brisbane event sees Kyle Anderson take on kiwi young gun Tahuna Irwin who took Bernie Smith all the way when challenging for the Oceanic Masters last year. Simon Whitlock takes on Lucas Cameron as the Victorian returns to the big stage against the man just named as returning to the Premier League in the UK. Queenslander Robbie King will be looking for home state support to get him over the line against legendary Scotsman Jamie Harvey. Raymond Smith will conclude the first night as he takes on 16 time World Champion Phil Taylor.
The Gold Coast event sees home town boy Robbie King take on the bravedart himself, Jamie Harvey. The African Warrior Devon Peterson matches wits with Lucas Cameron, who represented Australia in the Stewart Frampton trophy competition in 2017. Andy Hamilton will take on the returning Australian domestic number one from 2017 in GG Mathers whilst Kyle Anderson’s match promises to be top notch as he takes on local star Rhys Mathewson who has more than held his own against the top professionals on the big stage of the World Series of Darts events.
Townsville sees Russell Stewart matched up against Tic Bridge, the Barney slayer, in a repeat of the opening round in Brisbane. Kyle Anderson v Raymond Smith in a battle of the Queenslanders should be a great match, whilst local star Jeremy Fagg will take on Scottish legend Jamie Harvey. Andy Hamilton verses another Queenslander, in world championship contestant GG Mathers, also looks to be a rather tasty affair.
Mackay has some great match ups as Kyle Anderson will take on Rhys Mathewson for the second time in the series. Meanwhile Russell Stewart will take on GG Mathers and Phil Taylor will step up to the oche against Kevin McCarthy. Another classic encounter could be Dmitri van Den Bergh, current World Youth Champion, against local star Lucas Cameron.
Each player commented on their enthusiasm for the event when spoken to by Russ Bray after the dray was concluded.
Johnny Kuczynski “This is an unbelievable event. Las Vegas is the biggest we have in the US, but I love coming here. I was here in 2012 and it is an honour to be here for this event.”
Russell Stewart “This is one of the most exciting things we have in darts in Australia. This is brilliant and I hope this really puts our sport on TV and the fans all enjoy it.”
Devon Peterson “For the last 12 months I have initiated the last man standing African darts corporation emulating the PDC. This kind of series shows us what it is to host such an event in South Africa. I am excited to be here.”
Kyle Anderson “I can say from a youth perspective this is what you dreamt of, to be an Australian player and play in big hometown events. We wished for events like this and now it has come on a regular basis.”
Andy Hamilton “I am looking to do the best I can and The Hammer is coming back better and stronger. This is a great platform for that improvement.”
Jamie Harvey: It is exciting to be here in Australia, I am looking forward to getting on the stage again and performing well.”
Simon Whitlock “The end of the year has been great I am over the moon. I have worked really hard and it was my goal to get back in the Premier League and in the top ten and I am back. It is hard to come back the young kids are exceptional but I have made it. I am look forward to playing in Australia again.”
Phil Taylor “I have really looked forward to coming back to Austalia and it is great to see familiar faces. I am looking forward to this new phase of my darts. I can also relax and enjoy Australia for a change properly.”
A small number of tickets are still available for each event http://www.prodartsshowdownseries.com.au/
Each Preliminary match is the best of 11 legs.
Brisbane
1 Andy Hamilton v Lewis Kirk
2 Johnny K v Rhys Mathewson
3 Jamie Harvey v Robbie King
4 Russell Stewart v Tic Bridge
5 Devon Peterson v Raymond O’Donnell
6 Kyle Anderson v Tahuna Irwin
7 Simon Whitlock v Lucas Cameron
8 Phil Taylor v Raymond Smith

Gold Coast
1 Jamie Harvey v Steven Macarthur
2 Russell Stewart v Brad Thorp
3 Johnny K v Robbie King
4 Andy Hamilton v Gg Mathers
5 Devon Peterson v Lucas Cameron
6 Kyle Anderson v Rhys Mathewson
7 Simon Whitlock v Stuart Leach
8 Phil Taylor v Tic Bridge

Townsville
1 Jamie Harvey v Jeremy Fagg
2 Dmitri Van Den Bergh v Pat Molloy
3 Johnny K v Lucas Cameron
4 Andy Hamilton v GG Mathers
5 Devon Peterson v Rhys Mathewson
6 Russell Stewart v Tic Bridge
7 Kyle Anderson v Raymond Smith
8 Phil Taylor v Greg Major

Mackay
1 Andy Hamilton v John Bunyard
2 Devon Peterson v Dave Littleboy
3 Johnny K v Tic Bridge
4 Jamie Harvey v Raymond Smith
5 Russell Stewart v GG Mathers
6 Dmitri Van Den Bergh v Lucas Cameron
7 Kyle Anderson v Rhys Mathewson
8 Phil Taylor v Kevin McCarthy

HUGE INCREASE FOR WILLIAM HILL WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP

THE PDC are delighted to announce a huge 40% increase in William Hill World Darts Championship prize money for the 2018/2019 tournament, where a £2.5 million prize fund will be on offer including a record-breaking £500,000 to the eventual champion.

The 2017/2018 World Championship was an unprecedented success as 68,000 fans from around the world packed London's Alexandra Palace throughout 15 days of action.

Rob Cross became the eventual World Champion on New Year's Day as he scooped the £400,000 top prize - the highest individual prize in the sport's history - by defeating Phil Taylor in the final.

Next year's total prize money will increase by £700,000 from £1.8 million to £2.5 million, while the winner's cheque goes up by £100,000 to £500,000.

The PDC will be confirming an expanded field for the World Championship later this year, to include more global qualifying tournaments in an effort to continue the growth of the game around the world.

"This year's William Hill World Darts Championship was the biggest and most successful in the sport's history," said PDC Chairman Barry Hearn.

"We were treated to thrilling matches throughout and the event exceeded all of our expectations with record TV ratings being reported globally and a new champion being crowned in Rob Cross.

"Rob epitomises the PDC structure which gives opportunities for all players of ability without any barriers to entry.

"For Rob to go from competing on our Challenge Tour to being World Champion in just a year is an incredible story and one that will inspire ambitious players worldwide to achieve their dreams."

Monday's final featured record TV ratings in Germany, where a peak audience of 2.7 million people watched the final, while 1.4 million watched the Sky Sports broadcast in the UK.

Going into the tournament, Sky Sports confirmed a new seven-year broadcast contract with the PDC, while the tournament will remain at Alexandra Palace following the completion of a new contract with the famous host venue to cover the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 events.

Fairy-Tayl Triumph For Cross

ROB CROSS produced the performance of his life to win the William Hill World Darts Championship with an incredible 7-2 win over Phil Taylor, as the legendary Stoke thrower ended his career in defeat at Alexandra Palace.

Taylor had been bidding to win a 17th World Championship title to end the sport's most successful career in a blaze of glory as he prepares to move into retirement.

However, Cross produced a display reminiscent of Taylor himself when he had broken through to win the 1990 World Championship with a 6-1 rout of mentor Eric Bristow as the 27-year-old completed his remarkable rise by claiming the biggest title in darts.

Cross watched last year's World Championship final at home as he prepared to join the PDC circuit full-time, but lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy and secured the £400,000 first prize - double his career earnings to date - with an incredible display.

The former electrician won the first three sets without reply, taking out 167 to win the second and 153 to claim the third as he took nine of the opening 11 legs.

Taylor hit back in the fourth with three successive legs, and then missed double 12 for a nine-darter in the opening leg of set five - only to see Cross take that leg and the set to restore his advantage.

He then took the next two sets by a 3-1 scoreline to move 6-1 up as he maintained an average of 107, and though Taylor won the eighth without reply to claim his second set, Cross would not be denied as he won set nine with a 140 checkout to secure the title.

Only two players have averaged more than Cross' 107.67 in the World Championship final, while he added another 11 maximums and a 60 percent checkout rate as he won 21 legs to Taylor's ten.

As Cross lifted what could be the first of many World Championship titles, he was keen to share his moment with the retiring Taylor as the pair lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy in front of the capacity Alexandra Palace crowd.

Rob Cross & Phil Taylor (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

"I feel great, but I've got to say it's Phil's last year - I've won my first World Championship but it's about him departing and that's why I let him lift the trophy with me," said Cross.

"He's been phenomenal. It was my dream 15 years ago to play this guy and now I've played him. It's absolute phenomenal.

"In the final today it was a dream to play Phil. Watching him with his dominance over the years he has been excellent and you won't see another sportsman like him.

"It's a life changer, it's a fairy-tale."

Rob Cross & Phil Taylor (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

The significance of being born in the same year as Taylor's demolition job on Bristow was not lost on Cross - who has continually been compared to the 57-year-old in his approach to the game.

"I was born in 1990 so the coincidence may be there as he won his first World title while I took my first breath of air," Cross added.

"But with what he's done for the game I hope he has a happy retirement and I wish him all the best - he's brilliant."

Although disappointed that he could not add to his 11 televised nine-darters with his first in the World Championship, Taylor insisted that his narrow miss on double 12 did not affect the outcome of the match.

"It was close, I think the Paul Lim one would have been better, but it didn't go in and it didn't matter really," said Taylor, referring to Lim's miss at double 12 earlier in the event.

"At the start I thought I was going to lose 7-0 but when I got a set I thought to try and keep the score respectable and try and push him and make him think a bit, but it just didn't happen."

Phil Taylor (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Taylor once again says that there are striking similarities between new World Champion Cross and himself in the way they both play darts.

"I tried my best, I just didn't have that push against him," added Taylor. "He was like me 25 years ago.

"He was good. He was relentless, he just doesn't stop putting you under pressure, and that's the way I used to be.

"I don't think the money with him will make a scrap of difference, I think it's about winning and that's the way I was.

"I'm at the end of my career and he's at the beginning of his career and it was a young man versus an old man. It was a mismatch really, he was a brilliant player."

The £400,000 prize money which Cross took as champion means that he has risen to third on the PDC Order of Merit, incredibly achieving the feat inside 12 months on a two-year ranking list.

Cross will also now make his Unibet Premier League debut in February after being included as one of four debutants - alongside Daryl Gurney, Mensur Suljovic and Gerwyn Price - for the tournament.

Taylor, meanwhile, has seen his retirement marked by the PDC with the renaming of the BetVictor World Matchplay trophy as "The Phil Taylor Trophy" from 2018 onwards, making his amazing 16 Blackpool triumphs.

William Hill World Darts Championship
Monday January 1
Final
Rob Cross 7-2 Phil Taylor
Best of 13 sets

William Hill World Darts Championship Semi-Finals

ROB CROSS ended Michael van Gerwen's reign as William Hill World Darts Champion in an epic 11-set semi-final on Saturday as he set up a decider with Phil Taylor, whose dream finale continued with a 6-1 defeat of Jamie Lewis at Alexandra Palace.
Cross has enjoyed the most spectacular debut year in the sport's history since turning professional at the start of 2017, winning four events and reaching the European Championship final during his rise into the top 32.
The 20th seed will now contest the richest-ever darts match in Monday's final as he takes on legendary 16-time World Champion Taylor - who will be competing in his final game before retirement.
Cross ended Van Gerwen's bid to retain the World Championship title in a two-hour slugfest which left a capacity Ally Pally crowd captivated.
The 27-year-old former electrician matched Van Gerwen every step of the way as they traded heavy blows time after time and in the end they could only be separated by one single game of sudden-death 501 after remaining locked at five-all in the final set.
Both men won 27 legs and they combined for a semi-final record 31 maximums, but the key stat is the six match darts which Van Gerwen missed as he saw his title slip away in the dramatic finale.
Van Gerwen missed five of those chances in the tenth leg of the final set, allowing Cross to force the sudden-death leg where he punished a further miss from the Dutchman before landing double eight to seal a momentous victory.
"Words can't explain it, they really can't," said Cross. "Obviously I've lost to Michael a fair few times but tonight was my turn.
"At a point I felt inexperienced, I really did, but I managed to get through it and I'll make sure I'm right again for a couple of days."
Cross has not been able to get the better of Van Gerwen in a televised game previously, including losing in October's European Championship final, but showed his class in adapting to the big stage in Saturday's triumph.
"I'm confident in my own ability and I actually think if I come out and play like I can, near my best, then I actually believe I can keep up with Michael every day," said Cross.
"Obviously there are factors that mean I've not been able to do that but that just comes with being more comfortable. I feel I could be better than I have been but that comes with being more comfortable."
Van Gerwen landed one more 180 than Cross with 16 and achieved a higher average of 102.44, but crucially was left to rue his late missed doubles.
"I hate losing, especially in this tournament," admitted Van Gerwen afterwards. "I think I was better than Rob but on the important moments I could not bring something extra.
"Missing these doubles was extremely painful. There was nothing I could do about it. He played really well, all credit to him. But I should have won this. I can only blame myself and nobody else.
"Of course he’s a great winner. But I think I deserved to win this match to be quite honest. I had six match darts and normally I don’t miss that many. I’m sick of it.
"I think this is just his year. He had the luck going for him. It’s that simple. Those doubles were so close on the wire. I’m sick about that. Normally that doesn’t happen to me and I’m the only one to blame for it.
"My scoring was good at the right moment but my doubles let me down. I can only blame myself for that."
That unforgettable clash had come after Phil Taylor's amazing last tournament continued as the 57-year-old's bid to win a 17th World Championship saw him power past Jamie Lewis 6-1 in their last four tie.
Taylor maintained his proud record of having never lost a World Championship semi-final as he made it into the final for the 21st and final time, although his win was harder than the scoreline suggested.
Lewis claimed the game's opening set but agonisingly lost the next three in a deciding leg as Taylor moved ahead, and the young Welshman eventually paid the price for nine missed set darts.
"It's surreal to be honest with you, it's like I'm not even here," said Taylor. "It's like winning the lottery.
"It was a struggle. Jamie's one of the players who's very steady, very accurate, he doesn't show any emotion, doesn't show any fear, he's fantastic.
"I played on Jamie's lack of experience, that's all it was. He missed a couple of crucial doubles there. He had me, in first two or three sets there I didn't know where I was and I was struggling.
"At 1-1 I thought I was a lucky boy and I just kept on picking away. The way Jamie was playing I thought I was going to be 4-0 down. He showed a lot of bottle there."
A naturally disappointed Lewis, who became the first player to win through to the semi-finals after starting in the preliminary round, admitted that the enormity of the game, in his first televised semi-final, hampered him.
"I was trying to blank it out but the occasion got the better of me," Lewis conceded. "Deep down I was thinking that I could be the last man to beat Phil Taylor in a World Championship.
"I had chances early on and misses a few crucial doubles, and Phil punished me. The pressure got to me a little bit but I will learn from it.
"My doubles have been good all week but I missed some today at important times as well which you can't do against Phil.
"It's a stepping stone for next year, I know the darts are there now so I just need to produce them next year now."
Taylor admitted that he never thought he'd be able to reach the final on his farewell visit to Alexandra Palace but the clinical nature of his darts has returned him to the showpiece once again.
"The first round against Chris Dobey I knew I was in for a battle, but I thought if I got passed him then I could have a run at it," said Taylor, who retires following Monday's final.
"Then when I got to Gary Anderson I thought "that's you done now" because he's a younger, stronger, fitter and better player than I am at the minute but he didn't perform and I took advantage.
"It's a bit like John Part when he beat Kirk Shepherd in the final, I'm just picking up the pieces to be honest with you. It will be massive, and the best thing for me, I've got a day off so I can rest up tomorrow."
Taylor is now the 4/5 odds-on favourite with sponsors William Hill to win Monday's final, with Cross rated at Evens to capture the Sid Waddell Trophy and the £400,000 first prize.
William Hill World Darts Championship
Saturday December 30 (7.30pm)
Semi-Finals
Jamie Lewis 1-6 Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen 5-6 Rob Cross
Monday January 1 (8pm)
Final
Rob Cross v Phil Taylor
Best of 13 sets

TAYLOR THROUGH TO SEMIS

PHIL TAYLOR is now just two wins away from claiming a 17th and final William Hill World Darts Championship after disposing of Gary Anderson in Friday's quarter-finals, where Michael van Gerwen won a thriller and Rob Cross and Jamie Lewis secured last-four spots.

On a dramatic quarter-finals day at Alexandra Palace, retiring star Taylor again captured the headlines as his bid to end his glittering career with one final triumph.

Taylor's consistency was key as he punished Anderson early on to go 4-1 up, which proved to be too much of a gap for the two-time World Champion to bridge despite a valiant effort from the Scot, who had appeared in the last three finals.

The legendary 57-year-old could be on a collision course with Van Gerwen in the decider after the defending champion emerged with a 5-4 win from a toe-to-toe clash with fellow Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld.

Taylor, the 16-time World Champion, can still finish his career in the best possible fashion as he averaged 102, hit 12 180s and more importantly took out some crucial finishes, including a 126 in seeing off Anderson in a repeat of the 2015 final.

All the damage was done early as Taylor managed to win six legs on the spin when compiling that 4-1 advantage and, although Anderson came firing back with consecutive sets, he fell just short.

"It was a struggle, my energy levels went towards the end, but I knew I just had to keep putting him under pressure," said Taylor, who now faces Jamie Lewis for a place in the final.

"I think the pressure's off me and on the other players, and that's what I thought with Gary. He's defending a World Championship money-wise, and it could drop him down the rankings so there's a lot more pressure.

"It's the greatest feeling in the world and I'm going to miss it after next week but I've been around for 30 years now.

"I'm absolutely fine and I'm loving it."

Lewis is next up for Taylor after the young Welshman became the first preliminary round winner to ever make the semi-finals with a 5-0 whitewash of Darren Webster.

Lewis only got a chance to make the event after Dimitri Van den Bergh became World Youth Champion to open up an extra space in the PDPA Qualifiers, but after winning a third-place play-off the youngster has turned that chance into a truly special run.

"I can't believe it," said Lewis, who will pocket at least £85,000 from the tournament. "I came into this hoping to have a good run but to make the semis is a dream come true.

"I still think there's room for improvement, but I know if I get into the right flow I can play as good as anybody.

"I thought it was going to be really close, but luckily I took out the right shots at the right time."

The meeting between Van Gerwen and Van Barneveld did not draw the record-breaking averages and huge scoring of their epic meeting 12 months ago, but was equally dramatic as the reigning champion was continually pegged back by his rival.

Van Gerwen averaged 103 to Van Barneveld's 98, but the drama was more significant than the stats as the world number one missed a dart to lead 4-1 before watching the five-time World Champion draw level at 3-3.

With 18 breaks of throw anything could happen at any time - Van Gerwen missed a dart for the match to allow Van Barneveld to level, before the more experienced man missed three key darts at double 16 in the final set as he fell to an agonising defeat.

"In the beginning I didn't feel too well, Raymond was playing well and I was struggling a little bit," said Van Gerwen.

"But I think everyone could only dream about a quarter-final like this as we both averaged quite a good standard and we both hit big finishes at the right time."

Shooting star Rob Cross' World Championship debut continues into the last four after the former electrician, who had risen to 20th in the world on his debut year as a professional, overcame Dimitri Van den Bergh in another nine-set epic.

Cross was in control at 4-1 ahead only to see World Youth Champion Van den Bergh come storming back to tie the game up at four-all with some sensational darts.

Cross, though, regained his composure to claim the deciding set and win through to the semi-finals, where he now faces Van Gerwen in a repeat of October's European Championship final.

"Honestly, the best player lost," said a magnanimous Cross. "I don't know what happened but I just felt lethargic and I went inside myself and it wasn't good enough.

"I just wasn't right, for whatever reason and Dimitri kept punishing me, fair play to him he was brilliant."

Van Gerwen is now the 8/15 tournament favourite with sponsors William Hill, with Taylor 3/1, Cross 8/1 and Lewis the 12/1 outsider after starting the event at 500/1 to claim the title.

William Hill World Darts Championship
Friday December 29
Quarter-Finals
Afternoon Session
Jamie Lewis 5-0 Darren Webster
Dimitri Van den Bergh 4-5 Rob Cross

Evening Session
Michael van Gerwen 5-4 Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor 5-3 Gary Anderson

Saturday December 30 (7.30pm)
Semi-Finals
Jamie Lewis v Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross

William Hill World Darts Championship Day 12

PHIL TAYLOR continued his pursuit of a 17th William Hill World Darts Championship with a 4-0 win over Keegan Brown to set up a huge quarter-final showdown with Gary Anderson at Alexandra Palace.

Legendary star Taylor rolled back the years at times during his 133rd World Championship match, especially with some big finishes at key moments as the occasion initially got the better of Brown.

Taylor is looking to end his career with what would be an incredible 17th World Championship title, and seeing an improvement in form against Brown has the 57-year-old - who has only lost 15 legs in the tournament so far - growing in confidence.

"I am starting to believe I can win," said Taylor. "It's weird. I said today that I think I can actually have a go at this; whether I can or not, I don't know, but I feel like I can.

"If my confidence is up and I can play properly then I think I can give them a game. I can win it.

"I'm going to go out with a big smile on my face, and if I start losing the crowd will get on my side and if I start winning the crowd will get on my side, so I'm going to enjoy the next game."

Two-time World Champion Anderson came through a tough battle with Steve West 4-2, with the Scot's missed match darts allowing his stubborn opponent to extending the match to a sixth set.

Anderson averaged 95 and at one stage looked to be struggling with a back injury before he eventually put West away to secure another mouth-watering contest on quarter-final day in a repeat of the classic 2015 final.

A day at Alexandra Palace usually comes with an upset and Thursday saw the turn of fifth seed Mensur Suljovic, who was on the wrong end of a 4-0 thumping by World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh.

The Champions League winner was never in the contest as the 23-year-old Belgian took control from the start and showed a maturity beyond his years to make the last eight.

"Winning 4-0 against the number five in the world, a 23-year-old dreams of things like that," said Van den Bergh, who has no intention of resting on his previous goal of reaching the last eight.

"That was my goal, and it's fantastic that I've got to the quarter-finals, but I'm not finished yet.

"Even though I'm playing in the quarter-finals, I'm capable. I believe and I'm a dream maker so who knows, my dreams might be coming true this time."

Next up for Van den Bergh is new darting sensation Rob Cross, who was watching the tournament at home last year waiting to turn professional but is now amongst the title favourites on his Alexandra Palace debut.

Cross overcame a sticky patch to produce some more heavy scoring that proved too much for John Henderson as the Hastings man progressed 4-1 to move his focus on to Van den Bergh.

"He's another fantastic player and I won't be able to take anything for granted," said Cross. "But as long as I come out and do my bit and I'm myself with no switching off, it's all good."

Jamie Lewis continued his fairy-tale run as he's now gone from qualifier to quarter-finalist after a 4-1 win over James Richardson in what was his 11th match in the tournament all told.

Understandably, Lewis could not reach the stratospheric heights of Wednesday's performance against Peter Wright, but after a sticky start he produced some superb darts - including a 170 finish - to dominate Richardson.

"I'm so chuffed to get through that game," said Lewis, who now meets Darren Webster. "It was a bit of a tough one because we both probably didn't play as well as we could.

"I didn't really play like I did yesterday but I'm so happy to just get through it."

Webster lived up to his "Demolition Man" nickname as he did overcame Toni Alcinas with a convincing 4-0 victory to return to the quarter-finals after an 11-year absence.

"I'm really pleased with my performance," said diminutive Norwich thrower Webster. "I'm chuffed with that.

"I've got no taller but I'm rolling back the years, what I lack in height I make up for in heart and passion."

Friday's other quarter-final sees Dutch rivals Michael van Gerwen, the reigning World Champion, and five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld clash as the pair bid to win through to the last four.

William Hill World Darts Championship
Thursday December 28
Afternoon Session
Toni Alcinas 0-4 Darren Webster
Mensur Suljovic 0-4 Dimitri Van den Bergh
John Henderson 1-4 Rob Cross

Evening Session
Jamie Lewis 4-1 James Richardson
Phil Taylor 4-0 Keegan Brown
Gary Anderson 4-2 Steve West

Quarter-Finals
Friday December 29
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
Jamie Lewis v Darren Webster
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Rob Cross

Evening Session (7pm)
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson

Draw Bracket Order
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Rob Cross
Jamie Lewis v Darren Webster
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson

Quarter-Finals - Best of nine sets

William Hill World Darts Championship Day 11

JAMIE LEWIS produced the performance of his career to knock out Peter Wright at the William Hill World Darts Championship on Wednesday, as Dutch rivals Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld set up a mouth-watering quarter-final tie at Alexandra Palace.

Youngster Lewis had to come through the PDPA Qualifier just to make it to Alexandra Palace, but it was the Welshman who played like a top seed as he averaged an amazing 107 to beat number two seed Wright 4-1 in a dream display.

The 26-year-old hit an incredible 13 180s and tremendous outshots of 125, 123 and 121 helped him to an overall checkout ratio of 54 percent as he continued what could be a breakout performance.

Lewis averaged 120 for two sets as he hit a purple patch rarely seen on the big stage at the World Championship to leave Wright trailing, despite the 2014 finalist averaging 103 in reply.

"I still can't quite believe it to be honest," said Lewis, who plays James Richardson in Thursday's third round tie. "I expected to give him a good game, I didn't really expect to beat him.

"I've been playing well the last couple of weeks and I thought if I can keep playing like that then I'll give him a good game but to win - I'm obviously over the moon with it."

Richardson will also be playing in the last 16 for the first time after he overcame former quarter-finalist Alan Norris 4-1 in another solid showing.

Darren Webster continued his dominance over Simon Whitlock as he knocked the Australian out of the tournament for the third time in four years.

Webster beat Whitlock 4-0 last year and although Whitlock this time managed to get a set on the board, it was still a comprehensive 4-1 victory for the Demolition Man.

"I'm here to win this," said Webster. "I'm not here to make numbers up, whereas before I used to say I'm here to give them a game now I'm here to win it all.

"I think if I can win three more matches then I'll be the number one English dart player so that's two down, three to go!"

Webster will tackle Spaniard Toni Alcinas in the last 16 after he defeated young German Kevin Munch 4-1 for the biggest win of his career.

With the second round concluding at Alexandra Palace, the opening two third round ties saw a pair of victories for Dutch superstars, competing in front of a handful of players from their national football team's squad.

Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen won their last 16 matches in contrasting styles as the 2007 champion eased beyond Vincent van der Voort 4-1 before the reigning champion was pushed all the way before beating Gerwyn Price 4-2.

Van der Voort had not dropped a set in the tournament before his match and started in style with a 156 checkout, but a set was all he could muster as Van Barneveld reeled off nine straight legs for victory.

"I didn't play my A-game and still averaged 101 so I'm pleased with that," said Van Barneveld. "A couple of times I gave away a few shots on doubles and he was there to punish me so I'm happy with the win of course.

"I was hitting tons but not too many 140s or 180s so I'm pleased with averaging 101. That's three matches and three 100 averages so I'm happy with that."

Van Gerwen, meanwhile, survived a huge scare against Price, with the Welshman coming from 2-0 down to level before missing four darts to go 3-2 in front as the the two-time World Champion capitalised.

Van Gerwen averaged just over 100, hit 12 180s and a maximum 170 checkout but only won the same amount of legs (13) as Price in what he deemed a below-par performance.

"I didn't play well today, simple," said Van Gerwen. "My game wasn't 100 percent and I made it tough for myself but all credit to him - he kept fighting he never gives up.

"I have to play better against Raymond. This was probably 85 percent of how I can play, I'm sure I can play better against Raymond."

Thursday's action sees the third round conclude with the remaining six matches split across two session at Alexandra Palace.

The afternoon session sees Alcinas face Webster before number five seed Mensur Suljovic takes on World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh and European Championship finalist Rob Cross plays John Henderson.

Lewis and Richardson open the evening session before 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor continues his final tournament before retirement as he takes on Keegan Brown, and two-time World Champion Gary Anderson plays Steve West.

William Hill World Darts Championship
Wednesday December 27
Afternoon Session
Second Round
Simon Whitlock 1-4 Darren Webster
Alan Norris 1-4 James Richardson
Kevin Munch 1-4 Toni Alcinas

Evening Session
Peter Wright 1-4 Jamie Lewis
Third Round
Vincent van der Voort 1-4 Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen 4-2 Gerwyn Price

Thursday December 28
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
Toni Alcinas v Darren Webster
Mensur Suljovic v Dimitri Van den Bergh
John Henderson v Rob Cross

Evening Session (7pm)
Jamie Lewis v James Richardson
Phil Taylor v Keegan Brown
Gary Anderson v Steve West

WIZARD OUT OF THE WORLDS

DARREN WEBSTER continued his dominance over Simon Whitlock as he knocked the Australian out of the World Darts Championship for the third time in four years.
Webster beat Whitlock 4-0 last year and although Whitlock this time managed to get a set on the board, it was still a comprehensive victory for the Demolition Man.
The bare stats don't quite tell the story of the match as Whitlock had a two-point higher average, hit two more 180s and had a higher checkout percentage than Webster, but in truth was always playing catch-up.
Webster dominated the scoring by hitting 16 scores of 140+ compared to Whitlock's four, and that gave the Englishman a healthy advantage in most legs leading to him having 38 throws at double while Whitlock had just 17.
On the occasions Whitlock got chances, he spurned them - such as in the second set after Webster took the opener on throw, Whitlock was broken in the third leg then missed two doubles to go 2-0 down.
Whitlock missed crucial doubles to start and end the third set as Webster powered 3-0 in front, but with his eye on the finish line Whitlock took the fourth set 3-0.
It was just delayed the inevitable though as Webster, with the throw, coasted to the fifth set to book his place in the last 16 after yet again claiming the scalp of Whitlock.
"I'm really pleased with myself it was the rematch and obviously he was after me," said Webster, who plays either Kevin Munch or Toni Alcinas in the last 16.
"I've played 12 legs (sets) against the man and he's only won two and yet they keep making him the favourite - I love it!
"I think Simon was under more pressure than me as last two times I've played him I've won. I enjoyed it up there but there are still a lot of things for me to learn but I'm working on it.
"I think if I can win three more matches then I'll be the No.1 English dart player so that's two down, three to go!
"I'm here to win this, I'm not here to make numbers up, where as before I used to say I'm here to give them a game now I'm here to win it all."

William Hill World Darts Championship Day Ten

PHIL TAYLOR continued his pursuit of a 17th William Hill World Darts Championship title with a commanding 4-0 victory over Justin Pipe, as Rob Cross won a thriller against Michael Smith on the final night of action before Christmas.
Taylor, 57, is playing in his 29th and final World Championship as he bids to end his career in style, and he certainly made no mistake against Pipe by winning 11 legs on the bounce to go through after seeing the Taunton man crucially miss two darts to win the opening set.
Taylor averaged 99, hit two 180s, took out 54 percent of his doubles and hit a ten-darter as he overcame a testing atmosphere inside Alexandra Palace to set up a last 16 meeting with Keegan Brown.
"I've had 30 years of experience and I've never played in a game like that in my career, it was very, very strange," said Taylor, referring to the reception Pipe received from the crowd following an incident in his first round win over Bernie Smith which has been referred to the Darts Regulation Authority.
"It was very difficult to concentrate, it was really hard. I just wanted to pinch that first set as I knew it'd be hard to concentrate for him with the crowd."
Taylor still insists he is happy to be walking away from darts after this tournament, but his competitive instincts mean he is desperate to go out on a high - and he'll spend one last Christmas preparing for a big push towards the title.
"Even though I'm really looking forward to finishing after this I still want to win it, but I'm not playing well enough to win it," Taylor added.
"I need to go home and get some rest in, it's all about rest for me now, getting my energy levels up to compete against these young lads like Michael and Gary. This is definitely the last time for me."
Former World Youth Champion Brown will get his dream tie against Taylor in the last 16 after he won a tough battle with Austrian Zoran Lerchbacher 4-2.
"I went a set up and thought about playing the winner of Phil Taylor or Justin Pipe, and I thought about that for the next four sets!" admitted the Isle of Wight thrower. "That's my fault and it wasn't my best performance.
"I'm very happy to get into the last 16 and words can't describe what it will be like to play Phil.
"I've read his autobiography about 20 million times over. As a kid all you saw was Phil Taylor, playing and winning."
Taylor's old sparring partner Raymond van Barneveld continued his fine form as he averaged 102.78 during his 4-1 win over Australia's Kyle Anderson to set up an all-Dutch showdown with Vincent van der Voort.
"The first two sets I was calm and I felt so comfortable up there," said Van Barneveld. "I'm really pleased, I'm really happy with my game."
Rising star Rob Cross proved he can handle the pressure of being amongst the tournament favourites in his debut this year as he won arguably the match of the tournament 4-3 against Michael Smith.
Smith averaged 103, hit 13 180s and won three more legs than Cross, who had 16 maximums and showcased the grit and determination he needed to go along with his obvious talent to show he is a real contender for the title.
"It was a good win for me but I will need to shape up because in certain sets there I wasn't brilliant throughout," said the Hastings ace.
"Going forward I need to be playing a more all-round game, and in every set I need to push. If I can do that then I've got every chance.
"Michael played fantastic darts and had two match darts, and I'm grateful that he missed. In the last set I gave it my all, and it was my day today."
Cross now faces John Henderson in the last 16, after the Scot took out well-fancied fourth seed and World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney with an impressive 4-2 victory.
"It was very nerve-wracking at the end I must admit," said Henderson. "I thought I let a lot of doubles slip early doors to take advantage but Daryl fought back.
"I'm so relieved to get the win as I was shaking! I was feeling the heat up there tonight so to get through that means everything to me."
Steve West is enjoying his best run in the tournament as he beat Jermaine Wattimena 4-1 to claim a huge last 16 tie against two-time winner Gary Anderson.
"I'm over the moon," said West. "It took me seven attempts to get through the first round and now I'm into the last 16."
The tournament now enjoys a three-day break for the Christmas period before resuming on Wednesday December 27.
The remaining second round ties see Simon Whitlock play Darren Webster, Alan Norris up against James Richardson, Kevin Munch playing Toni Alcinas and Peter Wright taking on Jamie Lewis.
The third round also begins on Wednesday, when reigning champion Michael van Gerwen plays Gerwyn Price and 2007 winner Van Barneveld meets Van der Voort.
Coverage will be live on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel, as well as worldwide through the PDC's international broadcasters and online through PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers.
William Hill World Darts Championship
Preliminary & First Rounds
Second Round
Saturday December 23
Afternoon Session
Keegan Brown 4-2 Zoran Lerchbacher
Michael Smith 3-4 Rob Cross
Steve West 4-1 Jermaine Wattimena
Evening Session (7pm)
Daryl Gurney 2-4 John Henderson
Phil Taylor 4-0 Justin Pipe
Raymond van Barneveld 4-1 Kyle Anderson
Second Round - Best of seven set

William Hill World Darts Championship Day Eight

PETER WRIGHT overcame his recent illness as well as a spirited display from Brazilian Diogo Portela to get through the first round of the William Hill World Darts Championship.

Wright was briefly hospitalised with gallstones at the end of November and has spent much of the past three weeks recuperating at home in Suffolk, and although he has yet to return to full health averaged 98.59 in a 3-1 win.

Portela was making history as the first Brazilian to appear in the World Championship, and he did South American darts proud as he took a set and at times troubled the world number two.

With 125 places between them in the world rankings though, Wright eventually proved too strong for Portela as he booked a date with Jamie Lewis in the second round after the Christmas break.

"I suppose I was sweating up on the stage so I think I'm still not well to be honest," said Wright, who was full of praise for his opponent, after previously meeting Portela whilst filming the "180" game show in 2016.

"I played with this man on a TV show a little while back and he said to me afterwards that he was going to Q School, and look where he is now, he's playing the World Championship - how amazing is he."

An emotional Portela - who moved from Rio to London to pursue his darting dream - was delighted with his efforts as he reflected on his achievement.

"It was a dream come true," said Portela. "I didn't play my best. I was nervous at first then I relaxed a little bit in the second set but I went off the boil in the last set, couldn't find the range.

"This experience for me though just proves that I can mix it with the best. If I can get a set off the number two in the world I can do a lot on the tour.

"So it just keeps me motivated to come back here next year and next target is the Premier League!"

James Richardson returned to the World Championship stage to produce another upset as he made short work of 18th seed Kim Huybrechts in a one-sided 3-0 victory.

It was sweet revenge for Richardson, who was beaten 4-1 by Huybrechts in the 2012 event after knocking out Raymond van Barneveld on his debut - but reversed the roles with a dominant display against the Belgian.

"It's been five years since I've been on this stage," said Richardson. "It's been five years of hard graft to get back here and I've done it.

"I was very focused, I knew what I had to do. I'm here to win - Kim's brilliant but I had to beat him and I did it. It's 1-1 on the stage with Kim now."

Darren Webster was almost caught out by Devon Petersen but managed to avoid yet another shock in this year's tournament as he emerged with a 3-2 first round win against the South African.

"The first two legs I was cool as a cucumber, but the second two legs I was rough as a radish," said Webster.

"I've got a new thing where I'm just focusing on the next three darts, I don't care who I'm playing, I don't care who's in the tournament, all it's about is me controlling my darts.

"There's more to come this time, I'm feeling pretty good."

Toni Alcinas won the battle of Spain as the man from Mallorca defeat his World Cup team-mate, Tenerife's Cristo Reyes 3-1 to book a second round tie against German Kevin Munch.

The second round begins on Friday with a double session of action at Alexandra Palace, opening with Gerwyn Price up against Ian White, Vincent van der Voort taking on Steve Beaton and Jan Dekker facing Dimitri Van den Bergh in the afternoon session.

A big-name evening session sees Mensur Suljovic play Robert Thornton, Gary Anderson up against Paul Lim and Michael van Gerwen facing James Wilson.

William Hill World Darts Championship
Preliminary & First Rounds
Thursday December 21
Cristo Reyes 1-3 Toni Alcinas
Kim Huybrechts 0-3 James Richardson
Darren Webster 3-2 Devon Petersen
Peter Wright 3-1 Diogo Portela

Second Round
Friday December 22
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
Gerwyn Price v Ian White
Vincent van der Voort v Steve Beaton
Jan Dekker v Dimitri Van den Bergh

Evening Session (7pm)
Mensur Suljovic v Robert Thornton
Gary Anderson v Paul Lim
Michael van Gerwen v James Wilson

Second Round - Best of seven sets

William Hill World Darts Championship Day Seven

JUSTIN PIPE had to dig deep to avoid being another big-name casualty at the William Hill World Darts Championship as he overcame qualifier Bernie Smith 4-2 in a deciding set on Wednesday night.

International qualifiers Paul Lim and Kevin Munch have both followed up preliminary round wins by knocking out seeded stars in the first round, and New Zealand's Smith was aiming to follow that lead.

The plasterer from Christchurch had defeated China's Xiao Chen Zong in straight sets earlier in the night, and battled from two sets down to level against Pipe.

Smith then missed two match darts in the deciding set as Pipe forced a tie-break before rescuing his own chances in the tournament as three successive legs moved him into the last 32 against retiring legend Phil Taylor.

"I'm over the moon, honestly," said Pipe. "At two sets up I was cruising and thinking about playing Phil Taylor in his last ever World Championship - but that's no good, you can't think ahead, you have to focus.

"Playing Phil, I'm going to just relax and throw. I'm going to absolutely love playing him in his last ever World Championship.

"I can relax now playing against Phil, I was so tense tonight, all I wanted to do was win and that's what I've done.

"I didn't think I'd go 2-0 up and I just took my foot off the gas, but I won't be doing that on Saturday."

Number 13 seed Michael Smith had a similar struggle to Pipe as, despite hitting the most 180s in a match so far this year with ten, he watched a 2-0 lead against Irish newcomer Steve Lennon disappear.

Smith, however, took control of that final set after Lennon had battled back bravely, closing with a 14-darter as he marched into the second round to face Rob Cross.

"The first two sets I was struggling but I found myself 2-0 up," said Smith. "Then I started to kind of get going and it was two sets all.

"I didn't want to go to that shoot-out again, every year I've been going 2-2 in the last set so I wanted to win it quick.

"Fair play to Steve, he pushed me all the way. That second set when I checked the 150 I thought that would kill him but he came out even better so all credit to him.

"I'm happy with the 180s just not the game, I need to get more consistent for the next round.

"Its a longer format next, I struggled there and still got a 93 average, so when I'm playing well I'll average 100 easily."

Former finalist Simon Whitlock was far from his best as he struggled with illness, but managed to scrap his way to a 3-1 win over Martin Schindler in the first round at Alexandra Palace.

The tenth seed averaged 87.42 and hit five 180s but converted just 11 of his 39 attempts at double as he scratched around for form against the young German.

"I'm pleased and very relieved to get the win because I wasn't at my best," said Whitlock. "That was very ugly, I struggled a lot - I've been sick all week with the 'flu and I just felt tired, weak and hot out there.

"I've got some fire in the belly and that's what got me through in the end. I've seen a lot of good players go out and I did not want to be one of them.

"I'm ranked number ten in the world now I've had a great last 18 months winning five tournaments and playing really good darts. I've been working so hard trying to get back into the top ten and I've got there now.

"Ten's not good enough for me; I want to be back in the top five again - I know I'm good enough."

The first round concludes on Thursday with the remaining four matches, headlined by Peter Wright's tie with Brazilian debutant Diogo Portela, with the number two seed having overcome gallstones to line up at Alexandra Palace.

Spanish pair Cristo Reyes and Toni Alcinas face off, while Belgium's Kim Huybrechts takes on James Richardson and Darren Webster clashes with South Africa's Devon Petersen.

William Hill World Darts Championship
Preliminary & First Rounds
Wednesday December 20
Xiao Chen Zong 0-2 Bernie Smith (P)
Michael Smith 3-2 Steve Lennon
Simon Whitlock 3-1 Martin Schindler
Justin Pipe 3-2 Bernie Smith

Thursday December 21 (7pm)
Cristo Reyes v Toni Alcinas
Kim Huybrechts v James Richardson
Darren Webster v Devon Petersen
Peter Wright v Diogo Portela

Preliminary Round - Best of three sets
First Round - Best of five sets

William Hill World Darts Championship Day Six

TWO-TIME winner Adrian Lewis suffered one of the biggest shocks in the history of the William Hill World Darts Championship as he was beaten in the first round by German qualifier Kevin Munch on Tuesday.

Seventh seed Lewis had never lost in the first round before in 12 years of playing in the event, but it was unlucky number 13 as he came up against an inspired Munch

The German left-hander had overcome Russia's Aleksandr Oreshkin in straight sets in the preliminary round, and took his game to a remarkable level against the Stoke superstar.

After 63-year-old Paul Lim's memorable win on Monday, Munch managed to go one better in knocking out one of the perennial tournament favourites thanks to an incredible burst of heavy scoring and big checkouts.

Munch found seven of his eight 180s in seven pulsating legs that took him from a set down to the brink of victory, adding finishes of 158, 118 and 124 for good measure.

The 27-year-old from Bochum recently gave up his job as a landscape gardener to try and make a career in darts, and after producing a performance that Lewis himself would have been proud of that now looks like a good decision.

"I can't believe it," said Munch, who previously qualified for the World Championship six years ago. "It feels so amazing. I will realise what I've done tomorrow. I was so confident in that moment and not scared of him.

"I didn't realise the fans were so loud but I do now! I will relax and practice for the second round now.

"It's the biggest win in my career. I'm very proud "

Trailing 2-1 in the second set after Lewis swept through the opener without reply, Munch embarked on his dizzying spell of darts with a pair of 15-darters before a 180 helped him take the set in a deciding leg.

The third set proved to be something special from the German as Munch hit four 180s in just three legs, adding finishes of 158 and 118 for good measure in a blistering assault that left a shell-shocked Lewis 2-1 down and on the ropes.

The 180s continued for Munch in the fourth, as did the finishes with a superb 124, before Lewis plugged away and pulled out two maximums to level the set up at 2-2.

Munch, though, would not be denied and he claimed the deciding leg on double eight to complete a momentous victory.

Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld was never in danger of joining the growing list of seeds heading for the Alexandra Palace exit as he calmly overcame debutant Richard North 3-0.

Van Barneveld is now an expert at the tricky first round stage following six consecutive 3-0 victories in his opening matches, as he set up an intriguing second round clash with Kyle Anderson.

Playing in his 50th match in the event, Van Barneveld averaged 102 - the fourth best effort so far of the event - hit three 180s and 17 140+ scores, as well as landing nine out of 19 doubles.

"There are so many tournaments but this one is special to me, so maybe I keep all my energy for these two weeks," said Van Barneveld. "This means the world to me.

"I'm flying back to Holland tomorrow morning then I'll be focusing on Kyle Anderson for Saturday. He's an amazing player.

"He's so tough, he's a 180 man, good at doubles, good at high finishes so I'm really looking forward to that match."

Scotland's John Henderson enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win over Finland's Marko Kantele to set-up a World Grand Prix rematch with Daryl Gurney, who took victory in their semi-final two months ago.

Henderson is the last man to have defeated Michael van Gerwen, also in October's World Grand Prix, and knows he will need to raise his game significantly to somewhere near his Dublin form for his second round clash.

"If you can't take confidence from beating Michael van Gerwen then you can't take confidence from anything," Henderson said. "I believe I'm still the last person to beat him so that's a nice mantle to have and the confidence is still there.

"I didn't play my best tonight but I hope I can find it on Saturday, I'll need it against Daryl."

The preliminary and first rounds continue on Wednesday at Alexandra Palace, including 2010 finalist Simon Whitlock opening his challenge against another German ace, debutant Martin Schindler.

Michael Smith takes on Irish newcomer Steve Lennon, while Justin Pipe will face the winner of the preliminary round tie between Chinese teenager Xiao Chen Zong and New Zealand's Bernie Smith.

William Hill World Darts Championship
Preliminary & First Rounds
Tuesday December 19
Aleksandr Oreshkin 0-2 Kevin Munch (P)
John Henderson 3-0 Marko Kantele
Raymond van Barneveld 3-0 Richard North
Adrian Lewis 1-3 Kevin Munch

Wednesday December 20 (7pm)
Xiao Chen Zong v Bernie Smith (P)
Michael Smith v Steve Lennon
Simon Whitlock v Martin Schindler
Justin Pipe v Xiao Chen Zong/Bernie Smith

Preliminary Round - Best of three sets
First Round - Best of five sets

William Hill World Darts Championship Day Five

PAUL LIM caused a huge sensation at the William Hill World Darts Championship as the legendary 63-year-old defeated former Lakeside Champion Mark Webster in an epic first round clash on Monday night.

Lim is a huge name in darts thanks to his nine-dart heroics way back at the 1990 World Championship, but he rolled back the years to win a new generation of fans at Alexandra Palace with a thrilling 3-2 success over the Welshman.

The veteran had earlier beaten Kai Fan Leung 2-0 in the preliminary round, but few gave him a chance of returning and being able to live with a former World Champion on the big stage.

Lim made his first World Championship appearance way back in 1982 - before both Leung and Webster were born - but will not have played better as he hit six 180s and averaged 95.98 in a scintillating performance that had the Ally Pally crowd jumping.

It was always a tight affair, but the longer it went on the stronger Lim seemed to get, and Webster had to dig deep and take out some real pressure doubles to save himself in the fourth set and extend the match.

The first four sets all went the distance, with Lim missing a dart for the match in the fourth, but far from fading the veteran upped his performance in the deciding set, which he won 3-0 to set up a second round tie with Gary Anderson on Friday.

"It's been an unbelievable night," said Lim. "I could feel that the crowd were for me and it's so great to feel that.

"I know the PDC World Championship is the cream of all darts tournaments and to be part of it really is an honour. To play well with the crowd like that is a different story, I think the way the crowd were really played a part in me winning.

"I had to dig deep. It's tough though, I'm running out of stamina!"

Northern Ireland's Daryl Gurney showed that he can be a real challenger for the £400,000 title with an impressive showing during his 3-1 win over Ronny Huybrechts.

The World Grand Prix Champion and fourth seed for the tournament dispatched the experienced Belgian expertly as he finished with an average of 100, landing seven 180s and a maximum 170 checkout along the way.

Gurney's start was almost perfection as he hit back-to-back 180s and only missed on the treble 19 of a possible nine-darter - instead having to settle for a ten-dart leg to get underway, and his level hardly dipped from there.

"I played really well the first two sets and then I was probably trying too hard in the third set to try and close it out 3-0," said Gurney.

"The way I played in the first two sets, taking my chances out, that's the way I have been playing but I haven't taken it up on the stage and that's what I need to do if I'm to continue in this competition."

Mensur Suljovic was a straight sets winner over Kevin Painter in their first round contest, with the Austrian fifth seed looking like a different player after his Champions League of Darts success in September.

"I'm happy I'm here," said Suljovic. "This is brilliant playing on that stage with this crowd it's amazing."

Tuesday's action sees former World Champions Raymond van Barneveld and Adrian Lewis in action, with the Dutchman meeeting debutant Richard North and the two-time winner up against either Russia's Aleksandr Oreshkin or Germany's Kevin Munch.

The night's other tie sees Scottish ace John Henderson - a World Grand Prix semi-finalist in October - taking on Finland's Marko Kantele.

William Hill World Darts Championship
Preliminary & First Rounds
Monday December 18
Kai Fan Leung 0-2 Paul Lim (P)
Mensur Suljovic 3-0 Kevin Painter
Daryl Gurney 3-1 Ronny Huybrechts
Mark Webster 2-3 Paul Lim

Tuesday December 19 (7pm)
Aleksandr Oreshkin v Kevin Munch (P)
John Henderson v Marko Kantele
Raymond van Barneveld v Richard North
Adrian Lewis v Aleksandr Oreshkin/Kevin Munch

Preliminary Round - Best of three sets
First Round - Best of five sets

WADE & CHISNALL KO'D IN WILLIAM HILL WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP

SEEDS tumbled on a day of upsets at the William Hill World Darts Championship on Sunday as Keegan Brown shocked James Wade, Vincent van der Voort dumped out Dave Chisnall and Jamie Lewis ousted Jonny Clayton at Alexandra Palace.

Former World Youth Champion Brown produced his biggest result of the year to confirm his return to form by overcoming number 11 seed Wade in five sets.

Brown like he meant business from the start as he continually moved ahead of Wade before clinching a thrilling 3-2 victory.

It was a ruthlessly clinical opening from Brown as he averaged over 107 when taking all three legs in a total of 42 darts and including a 124 finish as he took the first set.

The chips were down for Wade later in the match and he came out fighting by dominating the fourth set to force a decider, but it was all Brown in that fifth set as he powered away to a famous victory.

"It feels good, words are very hard to describe it at the moment," said a delighted Brown. "James is my hero, along with Phil Taylor, so it's just brilliant.

"I've played well in the last six months to get to this stage and I just thought take your time, don't rush, don't throw hot potatoes, just relax. And I got the job done."

Zoran Lerchbacher is next up for Brown, who could be asking for even more time off from his work as a laboratory technician on the Isle of Wight with the draw now so open.

He added: "I'm going back to work on Tuesday to ask for the rest of the week off as holiday, and then I'll practice; just practice, that's all I've got to do."

Eighth seed Chisnall followed Wade out of the tournament in the evening session's next match as Vincent van der Voort played one of his best matches on the big stage

A year ago Van der Voort had considered his future in the sport due to a long-standing back injury, but reaped the rewards of his physiotherapy programme in a straight sets victory.

The speedy Dutchman hit six 180s and seven 140s to outdo the usually heavy-scoring Chisnall, with Van der Voort also finishing sharply as he took nine of 16 double chances.

Van der Voort, who celebrates his 43rd birthday on Monday, admitted that he had been talked out of quitting the sport by his family after losing in the first round a year ago.

"At one point I thought I better just give up," he added. "I've been practising and doing everything I can, sometimes four or five hours a day doing rehab, being dedicated just to play well.

"I was ready to give up but my wife said give it one more go because in two or three years you'll regret it. I said I'd give it two years, try my hardest and if it's not there pack in, but right now I think I'll stay a little bit longer."

Sunday's afternoon session saw another seeded player exit the event, as Jonny Clayton failed to reproduce the form which saw him finish the Players Championship Finals as runner-up last month in his loss to Jamie Lewis.

Lewis - who came through the PDPA Qualifiers to snatch an Ally Pally spot - started his day off with a preliminary round success over young Belgian Kenny Neyens, before returning later on to win his all-Welsh with Clayton.

"I've been in the PDC now for five years and I've still not really shown what I know I can do," admitted Lewis. "It is about time I do it so hopefully this week might be the chance.

"I've not had a great year on the tour. I thought I'd blown it and I had one chance left at Milton Keynes in the qualifiers so I thought I'd go and give it my best because I know I can play as good as anybody."

Ian White avoided an upset as the 17th seed saw off New Zealand number one Cody Harris with a 3-1 victory.

Harris had earlier come through a preliminary round game with American Willard Bruguier and shared the opening two sets with White before the number 17 seed pulled away for victory.

Kyle Anderson warned his rivals that he is targeting the quarter-finals at least after he earned a gritty 3-1 success over Yorkshire debutant Peter Jacques, with the Australian insisting he's solved his double troubles.

"I don't like to come across as cocky but I've seen the bracket and I've got the confidence in myself to get to at least the quarters to be honest," said the Auckland Darts Masters winner.

Alan Norris beat Kim Viljanen 3-0 in a match that was tougher than the scoreline suggests, but Norris always had the upper hand despite a spot of trouble on his favourite double top, which he solved in the final set.

"Kim's a quality player," said Norris. "I think he's won seven out of the ten Scandinavian tournaments this year, but I'm getting more and more experience.

"I'm up there on ProTour events, I'm up there on the stage nearly every month, with these guys it's still once a year or twice a year."

Monday's play sees number five seed Mensur Suljovic take on 2004 World Championship finalist Kevin Painter, while World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney plays Ronny Huybrechts and Mark Webster takes on either Hong Kong's Kai Fan Leung or Singapore's Paul Lim.

William Hill World Darts Championship
Preliminary & First Rounds
Sunday December 17
Afternoon Session
Kenny Neyens 1-2 Jamie Lewis (P)
Alan Norris 3-0 Kim Viljanen
Kyle Anderson 3-1 Peter Jacques
Jonny Clayton 0-3 Jamie Lewis

Evening Session
Willard Bruguier 1-2 Cody Harris (P)
James Wade 2-3 Keegan Brown
Dave Chisnall 0-3 Vincent van der Voort
Ian White 3-1 Cody Harris

Monday December 18 (7pm)
Kai Fan Leung v Paul Lim (P)
Mensur Suljovic v Kevin Painter
Daryl Gurney v Ronny Huybrechts
Mark Webster v Kai Fan Leung/Paul Lim

Preliminary Round - Best of three sets
First Round - Best of five sets

Match Reports
Afternoon Session
Kenny Neyens 1-2 Jamie Lewis
(2-3, 3-2, 0-3)
JAMIE LEWIS survived a a flying start from Kenny Neyens to win their preliminary round match 2-1 and sett up an all-Welsh clash with Jonny Clayton later on Sunday afternoon.

Belgian debutant Neyens came bursting out of the traps with a 180 on his first throw, and he added a second maximum in a 14-dart opening leg.

He added the second leg as well before Lewis woke up and hit a 'snooker maximum' 147 checkout which kick-started his challenge and prompted a three-leg burst that gave him the set from seemingly nowhere.

A 13-darter made it four on the spin for Lewis but as he charged towards the finish line young Belgian Neyens kept himself in the tournament with gutsy 62 and 74 checkouts to claim the second set in a decider.

Lewis had missed a match dart in the second set, but made no mistake in the next as he took all three legs of the third and finished with a wonderful ten-darter to book his place in the first round.

Alan Norris v Kim Viljanen
(3-0, 3-2, 3-1)
ALAN NORRIS enjoyed a largely comfortable William Hill World Darts Championship first round victory as he beat Kim Viljanen 3-0 at Alexandra Palace.

Former Lakeside Championship finalist Norris had to work harder at times than the whitewash suggests, especially in a tough second set as Finland's Viljanen finally found some form.

Norris raced through the opening set with ease but Viljanen found form in a major way with two great legs, including a 12-darter, putting him 2-0 up.

Norris responded to level and Viljanen then missed five darts for the set allowing Norris to pinch it, and that represented Viljanen's last chance as Norris cleaned up the third set with a flourish.

"Kim's a quality player," said Norris. "I think he's won seven out of the ten Scandinavian (events) this year, but I'm getting more and more experience.

"I'm up there on ProTour events, I'm up there on the stage nearly every month, with these guys it's still once a year or twice a year.

"I know Kim well, he's a great player but he didn't perform to what he can. At 2-0 down in the second set I wasn't at the races but he gifted me one to get me back in the match.

"That was a big turning point because he's got the set in the bag, he had darts to win it 3-0 but I got it back on track so I'm very happy."

Kyle Anderson 3-1 Peter Jacques
(3-1, 3-2, 2-3, 3-0)
AUSTRALIAN Kyle Anderson secured his spot in the second round of the William Hill World Darts Championship with a gritty 3-1 win over Yorkshire's Peter Jacques.

The Auckland Darts Masters winner made his superior finishing count as Jacques had two more shots at double and one more 180 than Anderson, but could not find that consistency on his Alexandra Palace debut.

Anderson made his tournament experience count and that, along with his 53 percent checkout ratio booked him a second round date with either Raymond van Barneveld or Richard North.

Jacques took the opening leg with a 75 outshot but Anderson replied to rattle off the next three legs, including a 109 finish, to take the first set.

Huddersfield's Jacques looked a new man in the second set as he sprinted 2-0 in front but could not take advantage as Anderson hit a 70 checkout followed by a 14-dart leg to double his lead.

Anderson again had to come from behind in the third, hitting a 12-darter when he needed it most to level it up at 2-2, but this time it was Jacques who bagged the decider to get a set on the board.

It was a mere temporary reprieve though for Jacques, who hit 180s in consecutive legs only to lose those legs to Anderson in 17 darts each, before the Australian polished off the match with a second 60 finish of the set.

"As you do you look down the line of your bracket and I have," said Anderson. "I don't like to come across as cocky but I've seen the bracket and I've got the confidence in myself to get to at least the quarters to be honest."

An improvement on hitting the doubles has given Anderson a new-found confidence that he can make a big impact on the event this year.

"I've always know my capabilities and my power scoring, my trouble has always been doubles," he added.

"It's nothing else but the doubles, if you look at all my games I'm scoring brilliantly but I miss doubles and it brings my average down, and if you don't hit doubles you don't win.

"People look at me and think if I don't hit my doubles then they'll be OK, but now I'm starting to hit my doubles and they're starting to think differently and that brings pressure on them."

Jonny Clayton 0-3 Jamie Lewis
(1-3, 1-3, 2-3)
JAMIE LEWIS completed a super Sunday at the William Hill World Darts Championship as he secured a second win of the day with an impressive 3-0 victory over Jonny Clayton in the first round.

Lewis has been talked up as a potential star in recent years, and after a disappointing 2017 will enjoy his Christmas dinner in Cardigan with an eye on his second round tie following a productive day at Alexandra Palace.

Lewis' preliminary round defeat of Kenny Neyens set up an all-Welsh clash with his good friend Clayton, who was well fancied after a runner-up performance at the Players Championship Finals but could just not getting going in this event.

Clayton tried to lay down a marker in the opening leg with his first 180, but Lewis responded with a maximum of his own on the very next throw - and he was the one to build on that by taking out a superb 126 for a 12-darter.

That earlier preliminary round win may have warmed Lewis up nicely, as he then closed out the first set with a brilliant 11-darter after Clayton had to take out 104 just to get off the mark.

Lewis could not keep up his 101 average in the second set, but the result was the same as he doubled his lead despite handing a leg to Clayton with three missed double 16s, as he returned to hit that same double in the next leg to move two sets up.

Clayton managed to bag two legs in the third set, but Lewis always looked the stronger as he hit 180s in all three legs he won - highlighted with a 130 finish and a closing 11-darter to clinch the match.

"I'm over the moon," said Lewis, who will face either Peter Wright or Diogo Portela on December 27. "It's been a tough day, playing the preliminary round and then playing a good friend of mine in Jonny - it's something I was hoping to come here and do.

"I've not had a great year on the tour, I thought I'd blown it and I had one chance left at Milton Keynes in the qualifiers so I thought I'd go and give it my best because I know I can play as good as anybody.

"I'm getting more used to the stage now, I'm getting a bit more confident in myself and my ability.

"I've been in the PDC now for five years and I've still not really shown what I know I can do, so it is about time I do it. Hopefully this week might be the chance."

Evening Session
Willard Bruguier 1-2 Cody Harris (P)
(2-3, 3-2, 0-3)
CODY HARRIS fought off a stern challenge from Willard Bruguier to earn a place in the first round as he kicked off the Sunday evening session at the William Hill World Darts Championship.

It was nip-and-tuck between the two, but the New Zealander finished strongly against the North American Champion to earn a tie with Ian White.

There was only a whisker between the two averages with Harris just slightly over 84, and their checkout percentages were almost identical, but the DPNZ Qualifier's three 180s provided an extra scoring boost that Bruguier couldn't match.

The two swapped breaks of throw in the first set before a nervy ending saw Harris miss a host of chances before finally nailing his double to clinch the opener.

Bruguier responded and emerged with a 3-2 win in the second set with Harris tightening up on his finishes, but the Kiwi regained his composure in the decider to claim all three legs and move into the first round on his Alexandra Palace debut.

James Wade 2-3 Keegan Brown
(0-3, 3-2, 2-3, 3-1, 1-3)
KEEGAN BROWN produced the biggest upset so far of the 2017/2018 William Hill World Darts Championship as he put out 11th seed James Wade in a five-set thriller at Alexandra Palace.

Former World Youth Champion Brown looked like he meant business from the start as he moved ahead of the left-hander, and Wade was continually playing from behind.

It was a ruthlessly clinical opening from Brown, as he averaged over 107 when taking all three legs in a total of 42 darts and including a 124 finish to claim the first set.

The second was tighter, with both men taking out pressure finishes until Brown produced the first minor slip and Wade stepped up to take out 72 in the decider to level the match.

Wade applied more pressure in the opening of the third set, but Brown responded well by taking out 102 for a 12-darter to level up the set, and despite the three-time semi-finalist replying with a 90 checkout on the bull it was Brown who kept his nerve to edge the decider.

The chips were down for Wade and he came out fighting by dominating the fourth set to force a decider, but it was all Brown in that fifth set as he powered away to a famous victory.

"It feels good, words are very hard to describe it at the moment," said a delighted Brown. "James is my hero, along with Phil Taylor, so it's just brilliant.

"I've played well in the last six months to get to this stage and I just thought take your time, don't rush, don't throw hot potatoes, just relax. And I got the job done.

"I just had to relax and enjoy the moment in front of this brilliant crowd."

Zoran Lerchbacher is next up for Brown, who could be asking for even more time off from his work as a laboratory technician on the Isle of Wight with the draw now so open.

He added: "I'm going back to work on Tuesday to ask for the rest of the week off as holiday, and then I'll practice; just practice, that's all I've got to do."

Dave Chisnall 0-3 Vincent van der Voort
(2-3, 2-3, 0-3)
VINCENT VAN DER VOORT produced one of his finest William Hill World Darts Championship performances as he ousted eighth seed Dave Chisnall with a brilliant straight sets victory in their first round encounter.

The speedy Dutchman hit six 180s and seven 140s to outdo the usually heavy-scoring Chisnall, and Van der Voort was also finishing sharply as he took nine of 16 double chances.

Van der Voort has struggled with his well-publicised back problems, but he has rarely played any better on the Alexandra Palace stage and he came within a couple of darts of posting his first winning 100 average at the tournament.

It was the usual Van der Voort rapid-fire from the start, but Chisnall is no slouch himself and he pushed his rival all the way in the first two sets only to come unstuck in the fifth leg of both.

Chisnall only got six shots at a double in the 13 legs played in the match, and Van der Voort capitalised in the third set by claiming all three legs - including a crowd-pleasing 130 outshot - on the way to a commanding win which sets up a tie with Steve Beaton.

Van der Voort, who celebrates his 43rd birthday on Monday, had considered quitting the sport after a first round exit 12 months ago, but admitted that his hard work to recover from his back problem was paying off.

"At one point I thought I better just give up," he added. "I've been practising and doing everything I can, sometimes four or five hours a day doing rehab, being dedicated just to play well.

"I was ready to give up but my wife said give it one more go because in two or three years you'll regret it. She got in my brain a bit. We opened up a darts shop in Holland and she said to go and practice there.

"I said I'd give it two years, try my hardest and if it's not there pack in, but right now I think I'll stay a little bit longer.

"I've done a lot of really, really hard work getting my back sorted. I did everything I could to come back and my wish was to come back here to this stage and play well again."

Ian White 3-1 Cody Harris
(3-1, 1-3, 3-1, 3-0)
IAN WHITE avoided a potential upset at the William Hill World Darts Championship as he overcame New Zealand's Cody Harris 3-1 in the first round.

The 17th seed averaged 96.89, hit four 180s and took out ten of his 18 shots at double, but had a job on to shake off the dogged Harris, who had come through the preliminary round earlier in the night.

White threatened a nine-darter in the second leg with a 180 and 177 start, but settled for a 12-darter on the way to a comfortable first set.

New Zealand number one Harris came into the match in the second set, as he claimed three straight legs to level the tie against a bewildered White, who was 11 points ahead in the averages but level in sets.

Harris then made it four legs in a row to start the third set, but two 180s helped White claim three straight legs himself to regain the advantage.

The stubborn resistance of Harris was broken in set four, and White reeled off the final three legs as he booked a second round clash with Gerwyn Price.

"I knew Cody can play but it was a long day for him - he'd played in the preliminary round earlier and maybe that took its toll in the end," said White.

"I'd seen a few seeded players go out earlier in the night and I've not necessarily had the luck this year.

"My form's been there but I've not had the results, and I was hoping that my luck might change and that's starting to happen. I wanted to get through tonight and I can get myself ready for what should be a good game on Friday."

World Champs Friday round up

PHIL TAYLOR endured more than a few nervy moments before defeating Chris Dobey 3-1 as he started the final William Hill World Darts Championship campaign of his legendary darting career.

The 16-time World Champion is hoping to make a fairytale ending to his amazing career, but was made to sweat just to get through the opening game of his farewell appearance at Alexandra Palace.

All eyes are on the 57-year-old this year and perhaps the enormity of the situation hampered him in his first outing - and he admitted he was struggling a bit for energy.

"I lacked a bit of energy against Chris tonight, I slacked a little bit and it's not me. I'm tired," said Taylor.

"I never used to be like that before, I could win a tournament and then play another tournament, it's strange. I've got a few days off now to get ready for the next one."

It was a very un-Taylor-like start as young star Dobey threatened to be the ultimate party pooper by going 1-0 and 2-1 up early on, but Taylor settled to bag the next two legs and win the opening set against the throw.

It was more routine for Taylor in the second set as Dobey offered little resistance - apart from taking one leg when he hit a 180 and 60 outshot - as a 3-1 scoreline left the Stoke legend on course for a straight sets win.

Dobey led at the start of set three, with Taylor taking out 105 in leg four to level with the tie's first ton-plus finish - but just as he prepared to close out the win the Bedlington thrower produced an 11-darter to extend the contest.

Dobey really started the nerves jangling around Alexandra Palace in the fourth set as a 104 checkout saw him break the throw for a 2-1 lead to put him on the brink of levelling up the match - only to miss two shots at double 16 for the set.

Taylor took all three darts to hit double 16 to level it up, and made no mistake in the final leg - to his and the crowd's relief - as he booked his place in the second round.

"There was a lot of pressure on me, but to get through Chris Dobey [was good]," said a relieved Taylor. "When they keep on about the future of darts, that's your fella I think.

"And you've got Dimitri [Van den Bergh] as well, they're lovely kids and they're the ones to push the game on I think."

Taylor admitted the prospect of retirement is a tough one, but that it's even harder playing in the big events and not finding that all-conquering form of old.

"The fire's gone," he added. "I want to win, I've still got the fire in the belly to win, it's just the old utensils are not working as good as they used to. It's awful, it's killing me.

"And you know by my interviews, I have been very critical of certain players, sometimes justified maybe sometimes not. I've been a little bit bitter and I'm gutted that I can't play what I can, and that's what's killing me really.

"I'm really trying so hard and I can't do what I used to do. So I've got to shut up now."

New World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh is aiming high after he produced a 104.17 average - the fifth best first round effort in tournament history - to see off former Stephen Bunting 3-1, despite the former Lakeside Champion hitting a 170 checkout.

"My ambition, the way I'm feeling, I'm ready for something big," said Van den Bergh. "My dad says I am and when my dad says it, then it's true.

"So I'll keep working and I'm going for the quarter-finals at least, and if I get to the quarter-finals I'm definitely going for more, I never give up."

Well-fancied debutant Rob Cross showed glimpses of what he can do in his 3-0 victory over preliminary round winner Seigo Asada - hitting back-to-back 180s in the last two legs as he finished with an impressive 104.12 average.

"I've had a two-week build-up leading into this and I think there was a bit of pressure and that showed in the first set," said the European Championship finalist. "It gradually got better.

"People who you talk to were buzzing for this two months ago and I didn't understand - and now I do. It's a phenomenal place, I absolutely love it. It's brilliant, very special."

Japanese qualifier Asada had earlier overcome Australia's Gordon Mathers 2-1 in a sudden-death leg to secure his spot in the first round as the pair made their World Championship debuts.

Saturday sees two sessions of action at Alexandra Palace with Mervyn King, Robert Thornton and Benito van de Pas in action in the afternoon session, while two-time World Champion Gary Anderson and Jelle Klaasen open their challenges in the evening session.

William Hill World Darts Championship
First Round
Friday December 15
Seigo Asada 2-1 Gordon Mathers (P)
Stephen Bunting 1-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Phil Taylor 3-1 Chris Dobey
Rob Cross 3-0 Seigo Asada

World champs day 1

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN hit a maximum 180 with the opening three darts of the defence of his William Hill World Darts Championship before beating Christian Kist 3-1 with the third-best first round average in tournament history.

Van Gerwen hit the ground running on the opening night of the tournament in some style as he produced a standard-setting 106.17 average to fire out a warning to his rivals that he will not be relinquishing his title easily.

That opening 180 helped Van Gerwen take the first leg in 14 darts before he followed up with a 15-darter and capped off the first set with a 12-darter, highlighted with a 141 finish.

Kist needed to reply with in a 13-darter just to finally get a leg on the board as he went two sets down, but in a quality third set Kist withstood two 12-darters, two 180s and a 138 checkout from Van Gerwen to reduce the deficit to 2-1.

That sniff of danger was all the reigning champion needed though to move up another gear as he checked out 114 at the start of the fourth set, and once in front he never looked back as he powered to the winning line and set up a second round clash with James Wilson.

"It's always nice to come back to Alexandra Palace for the World Championship and a great game like this to start the tournament off is good for your confidence," said Van Gerwen, who has now won 30 successive matches.

"I also want to say well done to Christian Kist as well because he put me under pressure, he played well, he had over a 100 average. It was a nice start for me and I'm glad I won this game.

"I knew my form was there but at some points it didn't really come out. I can't really complain because I think I put on a fantastic performance for everyone and also for myself - it's a nice way to start off the tournament, it gives you a good feeling.

"I know what he can do, lately he's been struggling with a bit of trouble with his arm, but I think he's over it because he played a great game - I think anyone else he would have played tonight he would have given them a great game, but I did an step extra when I had to.

"It was a phenomenal performance for the first round as the first round is always difficult. I like to start straight away in top gear because if you underestimate people they can kill you - you have to perform round after round, game after game and leg after leg because it's the most important tournament of the year."

Next up for Van Gerwen on December 22 is James Wilson, with the Huddersfield thrower coming out on top in his first round encounter with Poland's Krzysztof Ratajski - the reigning World Masters winner - with a 3-1 victory.

"It's a good win for me and I've got massive confidence going forward," said Wilson. "I wasn't nervous but I was getting a few bounce outs and I had to put it in my mind that it wasn't me.

"I tried throwing a bit harder and they just went haywire, so I just went back to my natural throw and hope that they went in and stayed in."

Former Lakeside Champion Steve Beaton kicked-off this year's event on his 27th straight World Championship appearance with a reasonably comfortable 3-1 victory over Irish debutant William O'Connor.

"I know William can play well," said Beaton. "But I sneaked the first set and I thought after I got the second set, he didn't get off the stage - he tried to get himself focused.

"I thought the last two sets we both played how we can play. He's just got to learn, I mean I'm still learning! I still get the butterflies and I'm tense and everything.

"I couldn't believe the ending there, we were both banging them in and I just came out on top."

UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price closed the opening night as he enjoyed his first-ever World Championship victory by overpowering youngster Ted Evetts during his 3-0 straight sets victory.

Development Tour product Evetts won through the PDPA Qualifier in Milton Keynes last month to secure his World Championship debut, but the 20-year-old struggled to settle on the big stage against the more experienced Price.

"I was anxious all day and I'm just thankful to play well tonight and come through the game," said Price. "I haven't won a game on that stage so I put the pressure on myself to be honest.

"I felt good when I was practicing and I felt good when I was up there. It could have gone to 1-1 in the second set but fortunately I came through that.

"I put pressure on myself in this event because I hadn’t won a game, I've lost first round for the first three years so I felt it. I don't feel like that at any other tournament.

"At the UK Open I'd never really come through a first round but once I did that I made the final, so the rest better watch out!"

The action continues at Alexandra Palace on Friday when legendary 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor opens his challenge in the 57-year-old's final tournament before retiring by taking on youngster Chris Dobey.

Stephen Bunting takes on new World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh, while shooting star Rob Cross makes his World Championship debut against the winner of the preliminary round tie between Japan's Seigo Asada and Australia's Gordon Mathers.

William Hill World Darts Championship
First Round
Thursday December 14
Steve Beaton 3-1 William O'Connor
James Wilson 3-1 Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael van Gerwen 3-1 Christian Kist
Gerwyn Price 3-0 Ted Evetts
Best of five sets

New Seven-Year Deal For PDC & Sky Sports

AS Sky Sports prepares to broadcast its 25th World Darts Championship, the Professional Darts Corporation has agreed a new seven-year broadcast deal that will take Sky’s coverage of the sport into a fourth decade.

Running until 2025, Sky customers will be able to watch the best of live darts throughout the year including the sport’s biggest tournament, the William Hill World Darts Championship, as well as the 16-week Unibet Premier League, and the prestigious BetVictor World Matchplay.

Sky Sports’ relationship with the PDC started in 1993/1994 when it broadcast the World Championship, which has evolved from its first home at the Circus Tavern in Essex with 24 players and a prize pot of £64,000 to the world-famous Alexandra Palace in London with triple the number of competitors and a prize fund of £1.8million.

The new contract will give Sky Sports customers 60 days of live darts throughout each year, featuring the William Hill World Championship, Unibet Premier League, BetVictor World Matchplay, bwin Grand Slam of Darts, Unibet World Grand Prix and Betway World Cup of Darts.

PDC Chairman Barry Hearn added: “We’re absolutely delighted that we have been able to extend our relationship with Sky Sports for a further seven years.

"The support of Sky Sports since the PDC was formed almost 25 years ago has been a vital part in the sport’s success since then, and it will be fantastic for them to continue their superb coverage of these six major tournaments until at least 2025.

"The 2017/2018 William Hill World Darts Championship promises to be the best yet as the sport’s amazing global growth continues, and this is fantastic news to kick off the most exciting period of the year.”

Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports said: “It would not be Christmas without the darts which has become an essential part of the festive period for Sky Sports.

"By continuing to show the biggest and best darts for a further seven years it’s the ideal Christmas gift for Sky Sports customers. Alongside recent long-term deals for England cricket, EFL and Formula 1® it’s yet another example of a hugely exciting future for our customers.”

For the first time, Sky Sports customers will be able to enjoy new, dedicated, darts programming across the year, including The Darts Show - a 12-episode, monthly magazine programme exclusive to the Sky Sports Action & Arena channels from January 2018.

The channels will also broadcast the Unibet Premier League live, including the inaugural night in Berlin – a new host city on the 16-stop tour and home to the fastest growing darts market in the world.

With the William Hill World Darts Championship starting on Thursday, fans can enjoy every session live and exclusive on Sky Sports Darts HD (channel 408).

The Sky Sports Main Event channel will also simulcast live play on specific days, and non-Sky customers can follow all the action with daily, weekly or monthly sports passes from NOW TV.

The announcement continues a series of strong major rights deals for Sky Sports over the past twelve months; including deals with the EFL and ECB, Women’s Six Nations Rugby, UEFA Qualifiers, and from 2019, Sky Sports will become the exclusive home of Formula 1® in the UK & ROI.

William Hill World Darts Championship Schedule

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN will begin his defence of the William Hill World Darts Championship title on the opening night of this year's tournament on Thursday December 14.
Reigning World Champion Van Gerwen will take on fellow Dutchman Christian Kist in the first round of the £1.8 million tournament, which is being held at London's Alexandra Palace from December 14-January 1.
The opening night also features Steve Beaton taking on Irish debutant William O'Connor, James Wilson's meeting with Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski and Gerwyn Price up against youngster Ted Evetts, who won Monday's PDPA Qualifier.
Legendary 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor will begin his final World Championship challenge on Friday December 15 against Chris Dobey.
Friday's action also features Stephen Bunting's meeting with new World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh, and Rob Cross making his World Championship debut against the winner of the preliminary round tie between Seigo Asada and Gordon Mathers.
The first double session of the event will be held on Saturday December 16, with the afternoon featuring Benito van de Pas up against Steve West, Mervyn King's meeting with Zoran Lerchbacher and Robert Thornton taking on Alan Ljubic or Brendan Dolan.
Saturday's evening session is headlined by two-time World Champion Gary Anderson's clash with Jeff Smith or Luke Humphries, while Joe Cullen plays Jermaine Wattimena and Jelle Klaasen takes on Dutch rival Jan Dekker.
The afternoon session on Sunday December 17 includes Australia's Kyle Anderson up against Peter Jacques, Alan Norris' meeting with Kim Viljanen and Jonny Clayton taking on either Kenny Neyens or Jamie Lewis.
Sunday's evening session sees three-time semi-finalist James Wade play Keegan Brown, while Dave Chisnall meets Vincent van der Voort and Ian White plays either Willard Bruguier or Cody Harris.
Fourth and fifth seeds Daryl Gurney and Mensur Suljovic enter the action on Monday December 18 against Ronny Huybrechts and Kevin Painter respectively, while Mark Webster will face either Kai Fan Leung or Paul Lim.
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld plays Richard North on Tuesday December 19, when John Henderson meets Marko Kantele and two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis takes on either Aleksandr Oreshkin or Kevin Munch.
Former finalist Simon Whitlock meets German debutant Martin Schindler on Wednesday December 20, with Michael Smith playing Steve Lennon and Justin Pipe awaiting the winner of the preliminary round tie between Xiao Chen Zong and Bernie Smith.
The first round concludes on Thursday December 21 with the final four matches, headlined by number two seed Peter Wright's meeting with Brazilian debutant Diogo Portela.
Spanish duo Cristo Reyes and Toni Alcinas face off on Thursday's opening tie, before Kim Huybrechts plays James Richardson and Darren Webster meets South Africa's Devon Petersen.
The second round begins on Friday December 22 with a double session, and a further two sessions will be held on Saturday December 23 ahead of the Christmas break.
The second round concludes on Wednesday December 27, with the third round split across Wednesday night and a double session on Thursday December 28.
The quarter-finals will be held on Friday December 29, with the semi-finals on Saturday December 30 ahead of the final on Monday January 1.
The William Hill World Darts Championship will be held from December 14 to January 1 at London's Alexandra Palace, and will be broadcast live on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.

2017/2018 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Preliminary & First Rounds
(P) denotes Preliminary Round
Thursday December 14 (7pm)
Steve Beaton v William O'Connor
James Wilson v Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael van Gerwen v Christian Kist
Gerwyn Price v Ted Evetts
Friday December 15 (7pm)
Seigo Asada v Gordon Mathers (P)
Stephen Bunting v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Phil Taylor v Chris Dobey
Rob Cross v Seigo Asada/Gordon Mathers
Saturday December 16
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
Brendan Dolan v Alan Ljubic (P)
Benito van de Pas v Steve West
Mervyn King v Zoran Lerchbacher
Robert Thornton v Brendan Dolan/Alan Ljubic
Evening Session (7pm)
Jeff Smith v Luke Humphries (P)
Joe Cullen v Jermaine Wattimena
Jelle Klaasen v Jan Dekker
Gary Anderson v Jeff Smith/Luke Humphries
Sunday December 17
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
Kenny Neyens v Jamie Lewis (P)
Alan Norris v Kim Viljanen
Kyle Anderson v Peter Jacques
Jonny Clayton v Kenny Neyens/Jamie Lewis
Evening Session (7pm)
Willard Bruguier v Cody Harris (P)
James Wade v Keegan Brown
Dave Chisnall v Vincent van der Voort
Ian White v Willard Bruguier/Cody Harris
Monday December 18 (7pm)
Kai Fan Leung v Paul Lim (P)
Mensur Suljovic v Kevin Painter
Daryl Gurney v Ronny Huybrechts
Mark Webster v Kai Fan Leung/Paul Lim
Tuesday December 19 (7pm)
Aleksandr Oreshkin v Kevin Munch (P)
John Henderson v Marko Kantele
Raymond van Barneveld v Richard North
Adrian Lewis v Aleksandr Oreshkin/Kevin Munch
Wednesday December 20 (7pm)
Xiao Chen Zong v Bernie Smith (P)
Michael Smith v Steve Lennon
Simon Whitlock v Martin Schindler
Justin Pipe v Xiao Chen Zong/Bernie Smith
Thursday December 21 (7pm)
Cristo Reyes v Toni Alcinas
Kim Huybrechts v James Richardson
Darren Webster v Devon Petersen
Peter Wright v Diogo Portela
Second Round
Friday December 22
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
Price/Evetts v White/Bruguier/Harris
Chisnall/Van der Voort v Beaton/O'Connor
Klaasen/Dekker v Bunting/Van den Bergh
Evening Session (7pm)
Suljovic/Painter v Thornton/Ljubic/Dolan
G Anderson/J Smith/Humphries v M Webster/Leung/Lim
Van Gerwen/Kist v Wilson/Ratajski
Saturday December 23
Afternoon Session (1pm)
Wade/Brown v King/Lerchbacher
M Smith/Lennon v Cross/Asada/Mathers
Van de Pas/West v Cullen/Wattimena
Evening Session (7pm)
Gurney/R Huybrechts v Henderson/Kantele
Taylor/Dobey v Pipe/Zong/Smith
Van Barneveld/North v K Anderson/Jacques
Wednesday December 27
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
Whitlock/Schindler v D Webster/Petersen
Norris/Viljanen v K Huybrechts/Richardson
A Lewis/Oreshkin/Munch v Reyes/Alcinas
Evening Session (7pm)
Wright/Portela v Clayton/Neyens/J Lewis
Third Round
2x Games TBC
Thursday December 28
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
3x Games TBC
Evening Session (7pm)
3x Games TBC
Quarter-Finals
Friday December 29
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
2x Games
Evening Session (7pm)
2x Games
Semi-Finals
Saturday December 30 (7.30pm)
Final
Monday January 1 (8pm)
Format
Preliminary Round - Best of three sets
First Round - Best of five sets
Second Round - Best of seven sets
Third Round - Best of seven sets
Quarter-Finals - Best of nine sets
Semi-Finals - Best of 11 sets
Final - Best of 13 sets
All sets are the best of five legs.
A tie-break would be in operation in all matches other than the Preliminary Round. Any match which goes to a deciding set must be won by two clear legs. If the score in the final set reaches 5-5, a sudden-death leg will be played.
The schedule of play for the third round onwards will be announced at www.pdc.tv.
Schedule of play correct at time of writing. Any changes will be notified as soon as possible at www.pdc.tv.

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