The curtain is raised on the new darting year with the opening two Quarter-Final ties at the World Darts Championship…
The curtain is raised on the new darting year with the opening two Quarter-Final ties at the World Darts Championship on New Year’s Day.
Ninety-six came, now just eight remain in pursuit of the Sid Waddell Trophy and £500,000 first prize at Alexandra Palace.
The Quarter-Final line-up features players from a record six different nations, including two multiple PDC World Champions and two in-form hopefuls entering this stage of the competition for the first time.
Friday’s afternoon session plays host to one Quarter-Final from each half of the draw, kicking off with a clash between former Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting and Polish number one Krzysztof Ratajski.
Bunting is appearing in his first William Hill World Championship Quarter-Final since his debut appearance six years ago, having recaptured his top form on the sport’s greatest stage.
The former Premier League star has battled his way through two sudden death shoot-outs en route to this stage, starting against Andy Boulton in Round Two and going on to narrowly defeat Ryan Searle 4-3.
Between those nail-biting victories was a superb comeback win over James Wade in which he recovered from 2-0 down and shrugged off a nine-dart finish from his opponent to prevail 4-2.
Bunting is making up for lost ground having been forced to withdraw from October’s World Grand Prix due to a positive Covid test and is into a first major Quarter-Final since the 2019 Players Championship Finals.
Having come into the tournament as world number 26, victory over Ratajski would see him regain a place in the world’s elite top 16.
Ratajski has already broken new ground in this event by becoming the first Polish player ever to reach the Quarter-Finals at Ally Pally.
The world number 15, a former BDO World Masters champion, has kicked on from his run to the Quarter-Finals of July’s World Matchplay and now appears to be consistently producing his floor form on the televised stage.
The Polish Eagle has swooped to straight sets whitewashes of Ryan Joyce and Simon Whitlock before falling over the line on double one in a nail-biting sudden death shoot-out against Gabriel Clemens.
He survived seven match darts from ‘The German Giant’ in the process and will now look to take full advantage of that huge reprieve by reaching his first PDC major Semi-Final.
The afternoon’s second Quarter-Final presents a mouth-watering show-down between two-time World Champion Gary Anderson and in-form Dutchman Dirk van Duijvenbode.
Anderson has made headlines for his post-match outbursts in this tournament perhaps more so than his exploits on the oche but has continued his superb record in the sport’s show-piece.
The 2015 and 2016 World Champion is appearing in his sixth Quarter-Final from his last seven visits to Ally Pally, having been written off as a 40/1 outside before a dart was thrown.
The Flying Scotsman has been riddled with injury problems this season but has put that behind him to remain on course for glory, defeating Madars Razma 3-1 and Mensur Suljovic 4-3 before whitewashing Devon Petersen 4-0.
Anderson was projected to drop out of the world’s top 16 after this tournament but a win over Van Duijvenbode would see him hold down at east 14th spot.
The 50-year-old will now be eyeing a dose of revenge for his below-par 3-1 defeat to the Dutchman in October’s World Grand Prix.
Van Duijvenbode went on to reach the final that week in what proved a pivotal moment in his career, from which he has not looked back.
The 28-year-old, who came into this event unseeded after only regaining his Tour Card 12 months ago, has made it four Quarter-Final appearances in his last five major televised tournaments.
Van Duijvenbode, an aubergine farmer by day, began by coming from two sets down to deny Bradley Brooks in Round One before knocking out 2018 World Champion Rob Cross in a sudden death set.
He then whitewashed a helpless Adam Hunt 4-0 with a stunning 104 average before pulling off another terrific fightback from 3-1 down to defeat Premier League champion Glen Durrant in sudden death.
Van Duijvenbode entered the tournament as world number 43 but would climb to 22nd if he can pull off another landmark win over his darting hero.
The action gets underway from 12pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of nine 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
Friday January 1
12.15pm Krzysztof Ratajski v Stephen Bunting
1.45pm Gary Anderson v Dirk van Duijvenbode