The Third Round draws to a close at the 2019/20 World Championship on Friday night before two mouth-watering Last 16…
The Third Round draws to a close at the 2019/20 World Championship on Friday night before two mouth-watering Last 16 ties commence at Alexandra Palace.
The big names are beginning to make their move in the £2.5 million show-piece, with seven of the world’s top 16 left standing, in addition to a host of decorated talent.
The final match of Round Three kicks off the night’s action as world number three Gerwyn Price steps up his pursuit of a maiden world title with a clash against crowd favourite John Henderson.
Price has proved nothing short of a phenomenon this year, backing up his maiden major title by successfully retaining the Grand Slam last month, while also finishing runner-up in the European Championship and Players Championship Finals.
The Welshman, provisionally ranked world number two for the first time, has emerged as Michael van Gerwen’s closest challenger for major silverware and headed into this event at by far his shortest ever outright odds of 5/1.
Situated in the opposite half of the draw to his nemesis MVG, all the talk is of a dream potential final between the two box office stars on New Year’s Day, but Price’s below-par record in this competition almost came back to haunt him at the first hurdle once again.
Instead, he was left thanking his lucky stars for a fatal miscount from William O’Connor as he snatched victory in the deciding set to get his campaign off and running.
Henderson, former semi-finalist at the World Grand Prix, enjoyed a memorable cameo role in this season’s Premier League as a ‘Contender’ in Aberdeen, holding Michael van Gerwen to a 6-6 draw.
The popular Scot reached the Last 16 here in 2017/18, defeating Daryl Gurney along the way before bowing out at the hands of eventual champion Rob Cross and will be eyeing another notable scalp.
The opening tie of Round Four features a mouth-watering battle between two-time World Champion Gary Anderson and two-time televised title winner Nathan Aspinall.
The box office duo are both renowned for consistently producing their best form on the sport’s greatest stage and face off in what promises to be a close-run classic for the right to become the first man through to the Quarter-Finals.
Anderson rarely featured among the stand-out title contenders in the pre-tournament build-up, but his impressive start has made the critics sit up and take notice.
A 25/1 outsider for glory before a dart was thrown, Anderson has seen his odds slashed after brushing aside Brendan Dolan in straight sets before battling back from 3-1 down to defeat Ryan Searle 4-3 prior to the Christmas break.
Anderson missed much of the first half of the season, including the Premier League, through injury and has struggled to keep pace with his rivals since his return.
The world number five did pick up the World Cup of Darts title alongside Peter Wright in June but has not been beyond the Quarter-Finals of a televised singles event since his last outing at Ally Pally.
His record here, however, makes for impressive reading, having made at least the Semi-Final stage in four of his five most recent appearances.
Aspinall, meanwhile, is bidding to emulate his ground-breaking run to the Semi-Finals here 12 months ago and followed up his Second Round win over America’s Danny Baggish with a superb all-round display to see off Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski 4-3 with a 98.5 average.
The UK Open and U.S Masters champion has excelled in TV majors this season and now looks to halt ‘The Fying Scotsman’ in the first meeting between the two in televised competition.
The final match of the night sees world number one Michael van Gerwen resume the defence of his world title with a show-down against 2014 BDO World Champion Stephen Bunting.
Van Gerwen has not lost in, or prior to, this stage of the tournament since 2011 and has reached at least the Semi-Final stage in six of his last seven visits to Ally Pally.
The reigning Premier League and World Grand Prix champion has dropped just one set in seeing off Jelle Klaasen (3-1) and Ricky Evans (4-0) en route to this stage and has won 16 of his 19 previous encounters with Bunting.
Bunting, whose last head-to-head success against MVG came on the ProTour in 2016, finds himself at this stage of the competition for the first time since his debut i 2014/15, having displayed resurgent form so far.
The world number 17 came through a last-set decider against Spain’s Jose Justicia in Round Two before emphatically whitewashing world number 16 Jonny Clayton 4-0.
The action gets underway from 7pm GMT, with both Third and Fourth Round matches to be contested over the best of seven sets, best of five legs per set.
A tie-break will be in operation, where the final set must be won by two clear legs. If the score reaches 5-5, the 11th leg will be sudden-death.
William Hill World Championship 2019/20 Match Schedule
Friday December 27
7.15pm Gerwyn Price v John Henderson (RD3)
8.45pm Gary Anderson v Nathan Aspinall (RD4)
10.15pm Michael van Gerwen v Stephen Bunting (RD4)