World number one Michael van Gerwen launches his quest for a fourth World Championship title at Alexandra Palace on Saturday…
World number one Michael van Gerwen launches his quest for a fourth World Championship title at Alexandra Palace on Saturday night.
Van Gerwen has endured a somewhat turbulent season by his high standards but enjoyed a timely return to the winner’s circle at the Players Championship Finals, ending an eight-month televised title drought.
World Champion in 2014, 2017 and 2019, ‘Mighty Mike’ boasts a superb record of consistency at Ally Pally, having reached at least the Semi-Final stage in seven of his last eight appearances.
The reigning UK Open champion starts out against Scotland’s Ryan Murray in a repeat of their historic UK Open qualifier three years ago in which MVG hit two nine-darters.
Murray marked his World Championship debut with a 3-1 victory over Filipino ace Lourence Ilagan and is now poised for the biggest match of his career so far.
A moment of personal history for Deta Hedman sees her take to the PDC World Championship stage for the first time to take on Stoke’s Andy Boulton.
Hedman, 61, secured her spot by finishing second on the Women’s Series Order of Merit ahead of last year’s history-maker Fallon Sherrock.
The three-time BDO Women’s world finalist, who won two matches at the 2005 UK Open, will look to cause a sensation at the palace by knocking out the world number 58.
Boulton is making his third appearance in the World Championship as he aims to record his first win and set up a show-down with Stephen Bunting.
The 47-year-old has been in impressive form on the PDC Home Tour of late and was a semi-finalist in the last Players Championship event of the year.
The opening match of the night sees former world finalist Andy Hamilton return to Ally Pally for the first time in four years to face German youngster Nico Kurz.
Hamilton was runner-up to Adrian Lewis in 2012, and after dropping off the tour in recent years, plied his trade in the BDO before regaining a Tour Card at Q School this January.
THe Hammer is a former Grand Slam and UK Open finalist and has underlined his grit and determination to bounce back and reclaim a place on the sport’s greatest stage.
Kurz secured an immediate return to Ally Pally by winning the German Superleague and will look to recapture the form which carried him to the Last 32 12 months ago.
Elsewhere, 2019 Brisbane Masters champion Damon Heta aims to continue his fine run of form when he faces America’s Danny Baggish.
Aussie ace Heta has reached the Quarter-Finals of the last two major tournaments and has claimed Players Championship glory this season.
CDC qualifier Baggish gave an impressive account of himself on his debut last year, defeating Andy Boulton in Round One before losing out 3-1 to Nathan Aspinall.
The action gets underway from 6pm 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
Saturday December 19
6.15pm Andy Hamilton v Nico Kurz (R1)
7.15pm Andy Boulton v Deta Hedman (R1)
8.15pm Damon Heta v Danny Baggish (R1)
9.15pm Michael van Gerwen v Ryan Murray (R2)