The final day of pre-Christmas action at the World Darts Championship sees two former World Champions take to the stage…
The final day of pre-Christmas action at the World Darts Championship sees two former World Champions take to the stage at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday afternoon.
Former World Champions Adrian Lewis and Rob Cross became the fourth and fifth seeds to crash out of the competition on Tuesday as they went down at the hands of Danny Baggish and Dirk van Duijvenbode respectively.
A further four seeded stars aim to avoid joining ‘Jackpot’ and ‘Voltage’ through the Ally Pally exit door on Wednesday afternoon as the sport’s show-piece event continues to gather pace.
All eyes will be on two-time World Champion Gary Anderson as he steps up to face Latvia’s Madars Razma.
Anderson, who turned 50 on Tuesday, had initially been due to play last week but saw his match rescheduled after being forced to self-isolate.
The Flying Scotsman will be hoping to deliver himself a late birthday present by maintaining his record of having never lost his opening match at Ally Pally.
The 2015 and 2016 champion has struggled with injury problems this year but did reach the final of the World Matchplay and Semi-Finals of the Premier League.
He is defending Semi-Final prize money against his ranking from two years ago and can ill-afford to be off his game against the unflappable Latvian – who overcame Japan’s Toru Suzuki in Round One.
Razma, who made three Lakeside appearances, has reached a Players Championship event final this year and also made his debut in the recent World Cup of Darts.
Stephen Bunting, who claimed Lakeside glory in 2014, starts his latest Ally Pally campaign with a tough test against Stoke’s Andy Boulton.
Bunting was a quarter-finalist on his PDC World Championship debut six years ago but has since failed to progress beyond Round Two in four of his last five attempts.
He reached the Last 16 of this year’s UK Open and two ProTour Semi-Finals but failed to qualify for a number of majors, including the World Matchplay, European Championship and Grand Slam.
Boulton came through a nervy opener against Women’s Series debutant Deta Hedman 3-1 to reach Round Two here for the first time in three attempts.
The opening tie of the afternoon sees number 32 seed Ricky Evans take on Northern Ireland’s Mickey Mansell.
Evans enjoyed his best William Hill World Championship run to date 12 months ago, reaching Round Three before being whitewashed 4-0 by a ruthless Michael van Gerwen.
The former European Tour event finalist has lost in the opening round of three of his four televised tournament appearances this season and will need to remain on his guard if he is to avoid a potential early exit here.
Mansell, a former ProTour event winner, was visibly emotional after his 3-0 win over New Zealand’s Haupai Puha as he finally ended his Ally Pally curse of consecutive defeats stretching back to 2011.
The final match of the afternoon session sees world number 20 Mensur Suljovic take on PDPA qualifier Matthew Edgar.
Suljovic is aiming to improve on a miserable record at Ally Pally, having never been beyond the Third Round stage in 12 previous appearances.
The Austrian ace was famously beaten by Fallon Sherrock last time out and has struggled for form this season, failing to progress beyond the Last 16 stage in his five major appearances and dropping out of the world’s top 16 as a result.
World number 66 Edgar will sense a huge opportunity as he looks to extend his landmark run in this competition, having recorded his first win at the third attempt last week.
YouTube star Edgar was impressive in seeing off Maik Kuivenhoven in straight sets with 75 per cent on the doubles and could cause ‘The Gentle’ all sorts of problems if he can replicate that high level of finishing.
The action gets underway from 12pm 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.
William Hill World Darts Championship 2020/21 Schedule
Wednesday December 23
12.15pm Ricky Evans v Mickey Mansell
1.15pm Gary Anderson v Madars Razma
2.15pm Stephen Bunting v Andy Boulton
3.15pm Mensur Suljovic v Matthew Edgar