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World Darts Championship 2021/22 Day One preview and order of play | Price commences title defence

Jamie Shaw in World Darts Championship 15 Dec 2021
Gerwyn Price pictured alongside the Sid Waddell Trophy (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Gerwyn Price launches the defence of his World Darts Championship title on Day One of the sport’s show-piece event at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday evening.

The waiting is finally over as the festive feast of arrows gets under way at Ally Pally with 96 players competing for £2.5 million in prize money and the Sid Waddell trophy.

As per tradition, the defending champion will feature on the opening night of the competition, with this year’s honour falling to world number one Price.

Price is bidding to join an elite group of only three players to have successfully retained a PDC world title and returns to the palace under somewhat contrasting circumstances to when he last left it.

The Welshman lifted the trophy behind closed doors in January but will take centre stage in front of a sell-out crowd as he vies to become the first player into the Last 32.

Grand Slam champion a month ago, Price has made at least the Quarter-Final stage of all but one ranking major this season and awaits the winner of the First Round tie between Ritchie Edhouse and Peter Hudson.

Three-time Challenge Tour event winner Edhouse is making his second William Hill World Championship appearance, having returned to the main tour in 2021 and reached three Players Championship Quarter-Finals.

Hudson received an eleventh hour call-up to the event after Chinese qualifier Lihao Wen withdrew due to visa issues.

Making his first World Championship appearance since 2012/13, Manchester’s Hudson regained his Tour Card this year after a year away from the professional circuit.

One of the stand-out matches of the opening round sees two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis take on Canadian star Matt Campbell for the right to face Gary Anderson in Round Two.

Back-to-back champion in 2011 and 2012, Lewis is starting out in the First Round for the first time since the event moved to a 96-player field.

Now ranked world number 35, ‘Jackpot’ has appeared in only two televised ranking tournaments this year – the UK Open and the Players Championship Finals – and has failed to surpass the Last 16 stage of the World Championship since finishing runner-up in 2016.

Lewis, however, has offered glimpses of his best form in recent months, reaching the final of a Players Championship event in October, and will be determined to banish the demons of 12 months ago when he was beaten by Danny Baggish in Round Two.

A tough opening test for the Stoke star sees him take on European Challenge Tour qualifier Campbell – who is eyeing a first win on the iconic Ally Pally stage at the third attempt.

Winner of three Challenge Tour titles this year, as well as the Modus Live League last weekend, Campbell comes into the event ultra-sharp in terms of match practice and will have his sights set on a famous victory.

Elsewhere, world number 40 Ricky Evans aims to avoid a shock defeat at the hands of Indian qualifier Nitin Kumar.

Two-time European Tour event finalist Evans is making his seventh appearance at Ally Pally, having suffered successive whitewashes at the hands of Michael van Gerwen in Round Three in each of his last two visits.

Kumar is set for his third appearance in four years and is yet to win a set, having lost to Jeffrey de Zwaan and Brendan Dolan in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

The action gets under way from 7pm GMT, with First Round and Second Round matches to be contested over the best five sets, best of five legs per set.

The tie break rule does not apply to First Round matches, meaning the fifth leg of a deciding set would be sudden death, while the 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.

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World Darts Championship 2021/22 Day One Schedule

Wednesday December 15

7.15pm Ritchie Edhouse v Peter Hudson (R1)
8.15pm Ricky Evans v Nitin Kumar (R1)
9.15pm Adrian Lewis v Matt Campbell (R1)
10.15pm Gerwyn Price v Edhouse/Hudson (R2)

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