Peter Wright launched the defence of his World Championship title with a 3-1 victory over Steve West, while Jeff Smith…
Peter Wright launched the defence of his World Championship title with a 3-1 victory over Steve West, while Jeff Smith and an emotional Diogo Portela progressed to Round Two.
The opening night of the sport’s show-piece event saw a Grinch-themed Wright thrill a 500-strong crowd at Ally Pally by booking his place in Round Three.
Wright got his William Hill World Championship campaign off to a flying start, taking the first two sets without dropping a leg.
West, who became the first winner of the tournament earlier in the evening with a routine straight sets win over Indian Qualifier Amit Gilitwala, took the third set 3-1 despite a 144 checkout from Wright.
Wright began set four with a 101 checkout, and after West missed two darts at double to go 2-1 ahead, Wright landed a 71 checkout before sealing victory on double ten.
“Obviously, there was a bit of pressure on me tonight,” said Wright.
“Steve didn’t play his game. It’s a big ask to play well for two games in one night.
“I’m just happy to be safely through, but I know I wasn’t at my best tonight.
“My last three darts at double ten were near enough exactly the same as the ones I threw to win it last year, which was strange.
“I’m happy with the darts. Now I’m going to use my days off to rest up and come back refreshed for the rest of the tournament.
“I’m annoyed I’m not playing before Christmas, I wanted to wear another Christmas outfit!”
Elsewhere, an emotional Diogo Portela broke down in tears after thrashing an out of sorts Steve Beaton 3-0.
Taking to the Alexandra Palace stage for a fourth successive year, Portela spoilt the party for Beaton, who was competing in a record 30th consecutive World Championship.
Portela dropped just three legs as he became the first Brazilian to win on the World Championship stage and set up a show-down with Premier League champion Glen Durrant.
“Tonight will be in my heart forever. It was a fantastic win and it means everything to me,” said Portela.
“I’ve been through so much this year in my personal life. It left me thinking about quitting darts.
“This was a win for me to prove I can compete with the best players; Steve has been a class player for many years.
“I was having a nightmare in practice so I don’t know where this performance came from, but this is just the start for me.”
Jeff Smith fended off a spirited comeback from teenage star Keane Barry to close out a 3-1 victory in their First Round clash.
One of the most highly-anticipated round one ties got off to a slow start, with both players averaging around 80 after the opening two sets, both of which were won by Smith after Barry missed double 19 for a 158 checkout in the set two decider.
Irish ace Barry, 18, warmed to his task and brushed up on his slack finishing to won the third set decider and halve the deficit.
He took a 2-1 lead in the fourth set, but Smith broke throw with an 82 checkout before hitting a crucial 177 on his way to wrapping up the last leg of the contest to set up a second round meeting with Chris Dobey on Wednesday.
“I’m happy with that win tonight. When I got drawn against Keane I knew it would be a tough match and he put me under real pressure there,” said Smith.
“It’s been a fantastic year for me on the board, even with all the restrictions. Kudos to the PDC for putting the tournament on at all.
“I’m looking forward to playing Chris [Dobey], we’ve had a couple of good battles and I’m sure we will have another one tomorrow.”
William Hill World Darts Championship 2020/21 Results
Tuesday December 15
Steve West 3-0 Amit Gilitwala (R1)
Steve Beaton 0-3 Diogo Portela (R1)
Jeff Smith 3-1 Keane Barry (R1)
Peter Wright 3-1 Steve West (RD2)