Reigning World Champion Michael van Gerwen steps up the defence of his title in Round Three on Sunday night as…
Reigning World Champion Michael van Gerwen steps up the defence of his title in Round Three on Sunday night as a clutch of big names battle it out for a place in the latter stages after Christmas.
The Alexandra Palace was shaken to its core once again as its newly-crowned queen Fallon Sherrock pulled off a monumental upset by knocking out world number 11 Mensur Suljovic on Saturday night.
The 2,500/1 outsider continued her trailblazing run in the sport’s show-piece and generated global headlines for the second time in the space of four days to progress to the Last 32 on her debut.
Sixty-seven players have now departed the competition over the last nine days, leaving a fascinating mixture of decorated stars and in-form underdogs to compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £500,000 top prize.
Van Gerwen is now odds-on favourite to retain the trophy for the first time and claim a fourth world title since 2014, but faces a tricky test against Ricky Evans in the Last 32.
The world number one 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 Premier League and World Grand Prix winner came from a set down to defeat his bitter rival Jelle Klaasen 3-1 with a 96.2 average on opening night and has had to wait longer (nine days) than any other player between matches.
Van Gerwen will be chomping at the bit to resume normal service on the sport’s greatest stage and faces a player against whom he has lost just one of their nine previous meetings.
Evans is bidding to surpass this stage of the competition for the first time in five attempts, but faces a formidable task over the extended format against the greatest player on the planet.
Evans sealed a 3-1 victory over former Lakeside finalist Mark McGeeney with a sensational 170 checkout and will look to settle quickly and feed off MVG’s intense scoring power in what promises to be a quick-fire classic.
The opening match of the night sees multiple major winner James Wade take on 1996 World Champion Steve Beaton.
Wade, a three-time World Championship semi-finalist, claimed European Championship and World Series Finals glory in late 2018 but has enjoyed much of his success in floor tournaments this season, picking up no fewer than five Players Championship titles.
The Aldershot left-hander surrendered both of those TV titles at the first hurdle but has reached the final of The Masters and the Semi-Finals of the Premier League this season and will be keen to end it on the biggest possible high.
He began his campaign with a routine straight sets win over debutant Ritchie Edhouse but now comes up against an opponent whose big stage experience could not be more in contrast.
Only Phil Taylor (25) has made more appearances in this competition than ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ – who has underlined his incredible longevity by qualifying as number 25 seed.
The 55-year-old has incredibly never won successive matches in a PDC World Championship since making his debut at The Circus Tavern in 2002 and has lost 20 of his 23 previous meetings with Wade, including two in this tournament.
Belgium faces Holland in another tasty tie as former Players Championship Finals runner-up Kim Huybrechts takes on World Series Finals runner-up Danny Noppert.
Huybrechts has dropped out of the world’s top 32 after missing out on a number of ranked majors this season but has made up for lost time so far, defeating Geert Nentjes in a deciding set before knocking out 2018 champion Rob Cross 3-0 in Round Two.
That victory over the world number two is likely to offer ‘The Hurricane’ a much-needed confidence boost and assurance that he can still beat the best on the big stage as he looks to revive his career.
Noppert reached his first PDC televised final in Amsterdam last month, having also reached the final of the BDO World Championship, and registered his first win on the sport’s greatest stage by overcoming emerging star Callan Rydz in a deciding set last week.
The Dutchman has broken into the world’s top 32 for the first time after a fine season in which he has reached four ProTour Semi-Finals and featured in the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and Grand Slam.
The action gets underway from 7pm GMT, with Third 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
Sunday December 22
7.15pm James Wade v Steve Beaton
8.45pm Kim Huybrechts v Danny Noppert
10.15pm Michael van Gerwen v Ricky Evans