PHIL TAYLOR'S bid to be crowned as World Champion for a 17th time began with a comfortable first round victory over David Platt as Ian White, Mark Webster, Chris Dobey, Alan Norris and Daryl Gurney progressed at the William Hill Darts Championship on Sunday.
Taylor averaged almost 102 in a straight sets success over Oceanic Masters winner Platt, who defeated John Bowles 2-0 in their preliminary round contest before succumbing to the Stoke great.
Number four seed Taylor set his sights on a reunion with the Sid Waddell Trophy, which he last won in 2013, by easing past Platt with a 102 average.
"I've got a really good chance of winning it this year," said Taylor, whose second round opponent will be Kevin Painter in a repeat of the classic 2004 final.
"I feel really confident for the first time in a long time. I've been doing things right and I've done a few things differently to prepare.
"A lot of people have been writing me off but I really think I've got a much better chance than people think. I played okay tonight and I'm looking forward to the rest of the tournament."
Last year's Alexandra Palace quarter-finalist Norris, meanwhile, came back from the brink against Greece's John Michael to book his place in the second round with a 3-2 triumph.
Number 21 Norris had to come from two sets behind to overcome the Southern Europe Qualifier as he set up a last 32 clash with either Raymond van Barneveld or Robbie Green.
"That's why you should never give up," said Norris, who won the last European Tour event of 2016 and hit a nine-darter at last month's Players Championship Finals.
"In set play you have to hang in there because a run of three or four legs can change everything. I struggled early on but credit where it is due to John, he played well.
"I had a good year last year. I love it here but I thought I was going home so I'm really happy."
Northern Ireland's Gurney, meanwhile, was impressive in his 3-1 win against Jermaine Wattimena, landing five 180s and averaging almost 97 as he moved safely through.
"I'm very pleased with the average and the performance," said Gurney, who reached a European Tour final in 2016.
"I'm getting better year on year and I'm playing well. I've been practising really hard and trying to get my head right for this and it's a very good start."
Chris Dobey enjoyed a dream World Championship debut in the Sunday afternoon session by defeating Justin Pipe in their first round clash.
The 26-year-old continued the progress he has made in 2016, which included reaching the final of a Players Championship event, by hitting three finishes of over 100 in a 3-1 success over 26th seed Pipe.
"It's what dreams are made of," said Dobey, who also qualified for the European Championship, Grand Slam of Darts and Players Championship Finals this year.
"I was so relieved to get over the finishing line. I know how well I can play and I've got more in the tank but it was always going to be hard against Justin.
"I just need to keep playing my game and I'll play it match by match. Everybody wants their name on that trophy and I'm really up for it."
Fabulous finishing saw former Lakeside Champion Mark Webster move safely through to round two, as he hit nine doubles from 11 attempts to see off Joe Murnan in straight sets.
The Welsh left-hander, a two-time Alexandra Palace semi-finalist, has struggled with technique problems over the last couple of years but produced a polished performance to win through.
"I'm pleased with how it went," said former Premier League star Webster, who reached the last 16 last year.
"The first round is always hard. It is almost like a completely different tournament. You just want to be in for Christmas so I'm happy I've done that.
"I've been trying different things with my throw and the rhythm was great. My doubles went really well but I know I need to improve my scoring but overall I'm happy."
Ian White was also a 3-0 winner against Kevin Simm, who had come through his preliminary round game against Philippines Qualifier Gilbert Ulang.
Two of the three sets went all five legs but White showed his class to set up a second round clash with Jonny Clayton, with a 130 checkout on the bull being the highlight for the number 14 seed.
The first round continues on Monday, with two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis beginning his bid to reclaim the title against Sweden's Magnus Caris, while Mervyn King takes on Steve West and Joe Cullen meets either China's Qiang Sun or World Youth Champion Corey Cadby, the 2016 Australian Grand Prix champion.