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
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