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World Darts Championship 2020/21 Draw: Wright to face West or Gilitwala in Ally Pally opener

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World Darts Championship to be held behind closed doors from December 16

World Darts Championship 2020/21 Day One preview and order of play: Wright commences title defence

Jamie Shaw in World Darts Championship 13 Dec 2020
Peter Wright launches his title defence on opening night (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The greatest show on planet darts gets underway at Alexandra Palace on Tuesday, with a host of star names kicking off their World Championship campaigns.

The waiting is over as the sport’s 16-day show-piece begins for the annual festive feast of darts, and a stellar line-up takes to the stage on opening night.

As has become tournament tradition, the reigning champion will launch the defence of his title on opening night, with this year’s honour falling to Peter Wright.

Wright realised his darting destiny when he defeated Michael van Gerwen 7-3 in the final on New Year’s Day to become only the ninth different winner of a PDC World Championship.

The world number one has since gone on to win The Masters and the European Championship this year and is now looking to become only the fourth player to successfully retain this crown.

He heads into the World Championship having reached the Semi-Finals of the Players Championship Finals, that after a shock group stage exit in the Grand Slam the previous week.

Wright famously survived a match dart from Noel Malicdem in his opening outing last year and will be taking nothing for granted as he awaits the winner of the First Round clash between Steve West and Amit Gilitwala.

West is making his fifth consecutive PDC World Championship appearance and starts out as strong favourite to press home his experience against the debutant Indian qualifier.

West was a quarter-finalist in October’s European Championship – where his run was brought to an end by eventual champion Wright.

Arguably the stand-out tie of the night and the opening round itself sees former Lakeside finalist Jeff Smith take on teenage sensation Keane Barry.

Canada’s Smith was runner-up to Scott Waites at Lakeside in 2016 and is making his third PDC World Championship appearance, having enjoyed a strong first year back on the ProTour.

Smith reached the final of the first Players Championship event of the year and was instrumental in Canada’s run to the Quarter-Finals of the recent World Cup of Darts.

He faces a formidable test against one of the brightest emerging talents in the sport – the youngest in this year’s World Championship field at just 18.

Irish ace Barry celebrates (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Barry, who was beaten in straight sets by Vincent van der Voort on his Ally Pally debut last year, secured his return by finishing second on this year’s Development Tour Order of Merit.

The Irish ace is now guaranteed a two-year Tour Card and gained his first taste of the ProTour in the Winter Series, notably reaching the Last 16.

BDO and JDC World Youth Champion in 2020, Barry is renowned for his power scoring and is likely to serve up a major test for ‘The Silencer’ as they vie to face Chris Dobey in Round Two.

A moment of history for Steve Beaton will see him make a record 30th consecutive World Championship, eclipsing the joint tally he shares with Phil Taylor.

World Champion back at Lakeside back in 1996, the evergreen ‘Bronzed Adonis’ has underlined his incredible longevity by qualifying through the ProTour Order of Merit once again.

He enjoyed a fine run to the Last 16 in 2019/20 having previously failed to make it beyond the Second Round since 2005.

Crowd favourite Beaton starts out against Brazil’s Diogo Portela – a player looking to record his first win at the World Championship in four attempts.

Portela, a Challenge Tour event winner in 2018, is the tournament’s sole South American representative and recently featured for Brazil in the World Cup of Darts.

The action gets underway from 6pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of five sets, best of five legs per set.

In a change from previous World Darts Championship rules to reduce the possibility of sessions over-running, there will be no tie-break in any match. Should any deciding set reach two-all, the fifth leg would be the final leg.

WATCH THE WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

William Hill World Darts Championship 2020/21 Schedule

Tuesday December 15

6.15pm Steve West v Amit Gilitwala (R1)
7.15pm Steve Beaton v Diogo Portela (R1)
8.15pm Jeff Smith v Keane Barry (R1)
9.15pm Peter Wright v West/Gilitwala (R2)