Michael Smith launches his latest quest for World Championship glory at Alexandra Palace on Sunday night, while Women’s World Champion…
Michael Smith launches his latest quest for World Championship glory at Alexandra Palace on Sunday night, while Women’s World Champion Mikuru Suzuki aims to cause a sensation.
Smith fell agonisingly short of a fairy-tale first major title on New Year’s Day when he lost out to Michael van Gerwen in the final and will be determined to bounce back by going one step further.
Since then, ‘Bully Boy’ has consolidated the world number four spot but has fallen short in a further two televised finals – the World Matchplay and US Masters – while also reaching the Semi-Finals of the European Championship and Champions League.
The St Helens star continues his preserve his top form for the televised majors and returns to the people’s palace as one of the key contenders for the £500,000 title.
Smith starts out with a tricky Second Round tie against debutant Luke Woodhouse – who enjoyed a commanding straight sets win over Singapore legend Paul Lim on Saturday.
Woodhouse has kick-started his PDC career over the past month, dethroning defending champion Daryl Gurney at the Players Championship Finals before making an impressive start to his maiden William Hill World Championship campaign.
Reigning Ladies World Champion Mikuru Suzuki aims to pull off a remarkable victory on her PDC World Championship debut when she takes on ‘Ruthless’ James Richardson.
Japanese star Suzuki shot to prominence by claiming glory at Lakeside on her debut in January, and followed on from her debut experience at the Grand Slam by coming through the Women’s Rest of the World qualifier to seal a spot in the sport’s blue riband event.
Suzuki, who has also claimed the Dutch Open title this year, gave a fine account of herself at the Grand Slam and will look to settle quickly on the big occasion knowing all the pressure lies on the shoulders of her opponent.
Richardson is famed for his straight sets victory over Raymond van Barneveld in 2011/12 and is returning for his fourth World Championship, having qualified via the ProTour Order of Merit.
The Rushden thrower reached the Last 16 here two years ago and will be out to press home his vast experience to stave off a major banana skin.
The opening match of the night sees former World Youth Champion Arron Monk take on Spanish debutant Jose Justicia.
Monk is appearing in his first World Championship since 2013/14 and will be out to spark a resurgence in his career after a lengthy spell in the shadows.
Semi-finalist in a Players Championship event earlier this year, ‘Mad Monk’ has also reached a further two ProTour Quarter-Finals in 2019 and will be poised for a tough test against the debutant qualifier who secured his Tour Card in 2018.
Justicia, one of three Spaniards on the circuit, has struggled to make an impact in the PDC over the past two years will be keen to seize his chance on the sport’s most iconic stage.
North American champion Danny Baggish aims to follow in the footsteps of fellow countryman Darin Young – who stunned Van Barneveld 24 hours ago – when he takes on Stoke’s Andy Boulton.
Baggish claimed the most prestigious title in North American darts in Las Vegas this summer to secure a debut at Ally Pally and has also won a host of domestic events.
Boulton has appeared in three BDO World Championships but is making his second appearance at Ally Pally, having lost in the First Round on his debut in 2015/16.
A three-time quarter-finalist on the ProTour this season, ‘X Factor’ has more than 15 years of experience in the sport and will look to draw upon that in a bid to avert an early exit.
The action gets underway from 7pm GMT, with First Round and Second Round matches to be contested over the best of five sets, best of five legs per set.
A tie-break will be in operation from the second round onwards, 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
Sunday December 15
7.15pm Arron Monk v Jose Justicia
8.15pm Andy Boulton v Danny Baggish
9.15pm James Richardson v Mikuru Suzuki
10.15pm Michael Smith v Luke Woodhouse (Second Round)