The Second Round action draws to a close at the 2021/22 World Darts Championship on Thursday evening with a final…
The Second Round action draws to a close at the 2021/22 World Darts Championship on Thursday evening with a final four unmissable fixtures.
The pre-Christmas action culminates in the evening session of Day Nine at Alexandra Palace, with two former World Champions providing the box office attraction.
Arguably the stand-out tie of the entire round sees 2007 PDC World Champion Van Barneveld take on 2018 World Champion Rob Cross.
Van Barneveld is back at the scene of his most devastating loss from two years ago when he was beaten by America’s Darin Young in the opening round of what was set to be his last World Championship.
The five-time World Champion gained redemption on Monday when he swept aside Lourence Ilagan in straight sets with a 96.7 average to banish his darting demons on the sport’s most iconic stage.
A rejuvenated Barney, who picked up a ProTour title back in February, is now looking to replicate that performance and continue both his momentum and rise back up the rankings.
He faces an opponent he is yet to beat in five previous televised meetings since 2017, but crucially did secure his first win in all competitions over ‘Voltage’ at the Super Series in February.
Cross enjoyed the greatest moment of his career on this stage when he defeated Phil Taylor in the final to claim the crown in his debut campaign four years ago.
Since then, the world number 11 has gone on to win the World Matchplay (2019) and two European Championships (2019 and 2021), but his record at Ally Pally in the subsequent years has left a lot to be desired.
Cross reached the Fourth Round in 2019 but has since suffered back-to-back defeats in his opening game and will be desperate to avoid an unwanted hat-trick.
Elsewhere, Chris Dobey and Rusty-Jake Rodriguez battle it out for the right to face Michael van Gerwen in the Last 32.
World number 30 Dobey has not lost his opening match at Ally Pally since he was beaten by Phil Taylor in the 2017/18 event and has marked a fine return to form this year by winning two Players Championship events.
The two-time major semi-finalist faces a tricky opener against Austrian youngster Rodriguez – who is out to go one step further than his brother Rowby-John – who was beaten by Luke Humphries 24 hours ago.
Former JDC World Champion Rodriguez marked his debut on this famous stage by overcoming New Zealand’s Ben Robb 3-1 with a 93.8 average, and the 20-year-old will hold no fear ahead of the biggest match of his career so far.
German number one Gabriel Clemens opens up against 19-year-old Welsh debutant Lewy Williams.
Clemens comes into the event as the number 25 seed and has fond memories of last year’s event – when he knocked out defending champion Peter Wright en route to reaching the Last 16.
Clemens has qualified for every major ranking tournament this season but has failed to make it beyond the First Round stage in all but one of those outings.
Williams swept aside Japan’s Toyokazu Shibata in straight sets to mark a dream debut at Ally Pally and is bidding to join fellow countrymen Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton in winning through to the Last 32 in the top quarter of the draw.
The opening match of the night sees former Lakeside finalist Danny Noppert take on debutant Jason Heaver.
Noppert has enjoyed a ground-breaking season which saw him reach his first PDC major Semi-Final at the World Grand Prix, as well as the Quarter-Finals of the European Championship.
The world number 18 is out to progress to the Third Round for the third year running at Ally Pally but will be braced for a tough test from ProTour Order of Merit qualifier Heaver.
Heaver knocked out Australia’s Gordon Mathers 3-1 in the opening round to register his first win in front of the television cameras and has provisionally climbed 13 places to 85th in the Order of Merit as a result.
The action gets under way from 7pm GMT, with Second Round matches to be contested over the best five sets, best of five legs per set.
Final set in matches from Round Two onwards must be won by two clear legs, unless the score reaches 5-5, in which case a sudden-death leg will be played.
World Darts Championship 2021/22 Day Nine Schedule
Thursday December 23
7.15pm Danny Noppert v Jason Heaver (R2)
8.15pm Gabriel Clemens v Lewis Williams (R2)
9.15pm Rob Cross v Raymond van Barneveld (R2)
10.15pm Chris Dobey v Rusty-Jake Rodriguez (R2)