REIGNING William Hill World Darts Champion Gary Anderson eased through to the second round at Alexandra Palace with a straight sets victory over Andy Boulton, while Peter Wright and Daryl Gurney also progressed with opening night wins.
Anderson showed no sign of the nerves he admitted he felt on his first return to the Alexandra Palace stage since lifting the Sid Waddell Trophy almost 12 months ago as he began the defence of his title with a commanding display.
The Scotsman kicked off the match with back-to-back 11-darters and won seven straight legs before Boulton got off the mark with successive legs, but the world number two eventually edged the third set 3-2.
Boulton had earlier come back from two legs down in the deciding set of his preliminary round clash against Denmark's Per Laursen, but was unable to upset the odds as the reigning champion moved into the last 32.
"All I wanted to do was get through the first round and I did that despite the nerves," said Anderson, who averaged 99.55 in the triumph. "It's been terrible the last couple of days anticipating something I've never experienced before.
"I didn't want to go out in the first round after winning the trophy last year but I don't have to worry about that, I'm through and I'm here to win."
Anderson will take on Gurney in round two after the Northern Irish ace defeated Jamie Lewis in four sets in their opener.
Gurney, who defeated Anderson in last month's Players Championship Finals, hit five 180s in an impressive triumph and won three straight legs in a dominant first set before Lewis took the second 3-1.
Gurney edged the third 3-2 before taking the fourth 3-1 to finish the job.
"I played well in the first set but then I went off my game a little bit," said Gurney who reached the semi-finals at Minehead last month. "I could've easily lost that game and been out so I was pleased to get over the line.
"If I play like I can in the next game then I'm confident it will be good enough to go further."
2014 finalist Wright progressed into the second round after a straight sets victory against former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown.
Wright took the first six legs without reply to open up a two set lead before Brown finally got off the mark with a break of throw.
Wright broke back immediately with a brilliant 116 checkout and after the next two legs were shared, the world number four produced a fabulous finish of 131 to complete a commanding victory.
"Keegan is a better player than that," said Wright, who has reached the finals of the UK Open and World Series in 2015. "He didn't hit his doubles. If he had hit them it would've been a much better game than it was but I got away with it and I took it so all I can say is thank you very much.
"It wasn't pretty but it is a win and that's what is important. I can go away and enjoy Christmas now and come back stronger."
Wright will take on Ronny Huybrechts or Dean Winstanley in the next round, with that pair in action on Tuesday.
Friday will see the first double session of this year's tournament with two-time semi-finalist Mark Webster in action in the afternoon before world number one Michael van Gerwen enters the fray in the evening, which also features a clash between Brendan Dolan and Kyle Anderson.
William Hill World Darts Championship
Thursday December 17
Andy Boulton 2-1 Per Laursen (P)
Jamie Lewis 1-3 Daryl Gurney
Peter Wright 3-0 Keegan Brown
Gary Anderson 3-0 Andy Boulton
Friday December 18
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
Qiang Sun v Mick McGowan (P)
John Henderson v Darren Webster
Justin Pipe v Christian Kist
Mark Webster v Sun/McGowan
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Thanawat Gaweenuntawong v Rene Eidams (P)
Brendan Dolan v Kyle Anderson
Kim Huybrechts v David Pallett
Michael van Gerwen v Gaweenuntawong/Eidams
Preliminary Round - best of three sets
First Round - best of five sets