Raymond van Barneveld is recovering after a collapse during Friday’s Players Championship event in Milton Keynes.
The 53-year-old was beaten 6-1 by Ryan Searle in the opening round of the fourth PDC Super Series event and fell ill in the arena shortly after the match.
He was treated by paramedics but was not sent to hospital and returned to his hotel room on site, where he continues to be monitored.
Play was suspended on all boards for approximately one hour whilst Van Barneveld received treatment.
Van Barneveld’s manager Ben de Kok told Dutch outlet AD that the five-time World Champion collapsed after watching compatriot Jeffrey de Zwaan’s game and was put in the recovery position by paramedics.
De Kok added that Van Barneveld, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes back in 2009, attempted to get up but collapsed again.
The cause of his turn is not yet known and he is set to return home to the Netherlands in the coming days.
Van Barneveld regained his Tour Card at European Qualifying School last month after a year away from the circuit and returned to the winner’s circle at only the third attempt, winning Players Championship 3.
However, he suffered an early exit at the UK Open a fortnight ago and managed just one win in the second quartet of ProTour events this week.
Raymond van Barneveld continued his incredible comeback by claiming his first PDC ranking title for eight years on Day Three of the PDC Super Series.
The five-time World Champion, who regained his Tour Card at European Qualifying School last week after a year away from the circuit, returned to the winner’s circle at only the third attempt.
Dutch legend Van Barneveld rolled back the years to produce a vintage spell of form in Bolton, culminating in an 8-6 victory over Joe Cullen in the final.
The triumph is Barney’s first in a ranked PDC event since a Players Championship in Ireland in October 2013 and moves him within five places of a provisional qualification spot for July’s World Matchplay.
“I can’t express how happy I am,” said Van Barneveld. “Today it all went right, I had the focus I never had for the last two or three years.
“I was an amateur last week and one week later I’m winning a ProTour, that’s what you can do if you believe in yourself.
“I was so focused on winning that Tour Card, then I came here to the Super Series and I thought ‘wow, this is another level’ and I asked myself ‘can I do this again?’
“Yes, of course I can if I believe. It’s all about belief. I have to thank my management team who are making sure I practice every single day, which I’ve never done before in my life.
“When I came here I thought ‘this is my place, Bolton has been good to me.
“Joe played amazing in the final, he is a class player and I knew I had to take my chances.”
The 53-year-old had managed just one win in the opening two days of the PDC Super Series but doubled his tally with a steady 6-3 win over Poland’s Krzysztof Kciuk in Round One on Saturday.
He then survived two missed match darts from Rob Cross before edging over the line 6-5 in Round Two with a 100.7 average, and went on to deny Mervyn King by the same scoreline.
Van Barneveld’s most prolific performance came in the Last 16 when he thrashed Darius Labanauskas 6-1 with a 105.7 average, with the Lithuanian having earlier knocked out Michael van Gerwen in the opening round.
Van Barneveld then landed a 170 checkout en route to a 6-2 victory over Scottish newcomer Alan Soutar in the Semi-Finals with a 98.6 average.
The final saw Cullen bidding to make it two titles in the space of three days, and the Yorkshireman began brightly by opening up a 2-0 lead.
Cullen maintained a two-leg cushion until 4-2 before missing three darts at double 16 to allow Van Barneveld to close the gap.
That would prove the start of a fatal trend for Cullen as he continued to squander opportunities on the outer ring, wiring tops for a 160 checkout before Barney stepped in to level.
Cullen did, however, take out 119 on the bullseye to move 5-4 ahead, but only for Van Barneveld to respond superbly with a 144 checkout in the following leg.
Van Barneveld then found double one after three missed darts from Cullen to go ahead for the first time in the match, but three misses from the Dutchman in leg 12 allowed ‘The Rockstar’ off the hook to make it six-all.
Van Barneveld hit back with an 80 checkout to move within a leg of victory, and after Cullen squandered a host of darts at doubles to force a decider, Barney held firm to seal a fairy-tale victory.
The win evoked memories of Barney’s UK Open triumph at the same venue back in 2006 – his first televised PDC title.
Elsewhere on Day Three, Mensur Suljovic landed the third nine-darter in as many days at the PDC Super Series, achieving perfection in Round One against Peter Hudson.
In-form Jonny Clayton followed up runs to the final on Thursday and Friday with a Quarter-Final appearance, where Danny Noppert ended the Masters champion’s hopes.
Super Series 1 concludes on Sunday with Players Championship 4 as 128 players return to compete for a further £75,000 in prize money.
Saturday February 27
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-3 Aaron Beeney
Ricky Evans 6-4 Martin Schindler
Peter Jacques 6-5 Geert Nentjes
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Jesus Noguera
Gordon Mathers 6-5 Geert De Vos
Daryl Gurney 6-0 Adam Gawlas
John Henderson 6-3 Zoran Lerchbacher
Devon Petersen 6-1 Steffen Siepmann
Jeff Smith 6-4 Jason Heaver
Gabriel Clemens 6-5 Andrew Gilding
Derk Telnekes 6-2 Simon Whitlock
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Boris Koltsov
Jack Main 6-5 Martin Atkins
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-4 Brett Claydon
Gary Anderson 6-3 Ted Evetts
José de Sousa 6-4 William Borland
Kai Fan Leung 6-3 Lorenzo Pronk
Ross Smith 6-1 Bradley Brooks
Max Hopp 6-2 David Evans
Jonny Clayton 6-0 Lisa Ashton
Keegan Brown 6-2 Maik Kuivenhoven
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Darren Webster
Luke Humphries 6-2 Lewis Williams
Eddie Lovely 6-5 Michael Smith
John Brown 6-2 Luc Peters
Ciaran Teehan 6-3 Martijn Kleermaker
Josh Payne 6-3 Mark McGeeney
Danny Noppert 6-2 Steve Brown
Harald Leitinger 6-4 Chris Dobey
Callan Rydz 6-2 Martin Lukeman
Danny Baggish 6-3 Mickey Mansell
Darius Labanauskas 6-3 Michael van Gerwen
Steve Lennon 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Joe Murnan 6-5 Kim Huybrechts
Justin Pipe 6-5 Adam Hunt
Rob Cross 6-0 Steve West
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Krzysztof Kciuk
Mervyn King 6-5 Niels Zonneveld
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Boris Krcmar
Alan Soutar 6-2 Nathan Aspinall
William O’Connor 6-4 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Madars Razma 6-1 Gary Blades
Scott Mitchell 6-5 Mike De Decker
Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Peter Hudson – *Suljovic hits a nine-darter*
James Wilson 6-2 John Michael
Jermaine Wattimena 6-2 Ryan Meikle
Keane Barry 6-0 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Peter Wright 6-1 Jason Lowe
Steve Beaton 6-5 Matthew Edgar
Ryan Joyce 6-3 Nick Kenny
Berry van Peer 6-1 Michael Unterbuchner
Damon Heta 6-4 Chas Barstow
Ron Meulenkamp 6-2 Andy Hamilton
Glen Durrant 6-2 Jon Worsley
Jake Jones 6-2 Michael Rasztovits
James Wade 6-0 Daniel Larsson
Luke Woodhouse 6-4 Andy Boulton
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Ritchie Edhouse
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-4 Ryan Murray
Ian White 6-3 Kirk Shepherd
Alan Tabern 6-3 Scott Waites
Martin Thomas 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
Ryan Searle 6-2 Karel Sedlacek
Joe Cullen 6-4 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Ricky Evans 6-3 Peter Jacques
Gordon Mathers 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Daryl Gurney 6-3 John Henderson
Devon Petersen 6-1 Jeff Smith
Gabriel Clemens 6-2 Derk Telnekes
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-1 Jack Main
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-4 Gary Anderson
José de Sousa 6-0 Kai Fan Leung
Max Hopp 6-4 Ross Smith
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Keegan Brown
Luke Humphries 6-2 Brendan Dolan
Eddie Lovely 6-5 John Brown
Ciaran Teehan 6-4 Josh Payne
Danny Noppert 6-0 Harald Leitinger
Callan Rydz 6-5 Danny Baggish
Darius Labanauskas 6-3 Steve Lennon
Justin Pipe 6-5 Joe Murnan
Raymond van Barneveld 6-5 Rob Cross
Mervyn King 6-5 Adrian Lewis
Alan Soutar 6-5 William O’Connor
Madars Razma 6-3 Scott Mitchell
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 James Wilson
Keane Barry 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Peter Wright 6-4 Steve Beaton
Berry van Peer 6-3 Ryan Joyce
Ron Meulenkamp 6-5 Damon Heta
Glen Durrant 6-2 Jake Jones
James Wade 6-0 Luke Woodhouse
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Ian White 6-1 Alan Tabern
Ryan Searle 6-2 Martin Thomas
Joe Cullen 6-4 Ricky Evans
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Gordon Mathers
Devon Petersen 6-2 Gabriel Clemens
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Dirk van Duijvenbode
José de Sousa 6-2 Max Hopp
Jonny Clayton 6-5 Luke Humphries
Eddie Lovely 6-3 Ciaran Teehan
Danny Noppert 6-5 Callan Rydz
Darius Labanauskas 6-3 Justin Pipe
Raymond van Barneveld 6-5 Mervyn King
Alan Soutar 6-5 Madars Razma
Keane Barry 6-1 Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright 6-5 Berry van Peer
Glen Durrant 6-1 Ron Meulenkamp
James Wade 6-2 Stephen Bunting
Ian White 6-1 Ryan Searle
Joe Cullen 6-0 Daryl Gurney
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-4 Devon Petersen
Jonny Clayton 6-3 José de Sousa
Danny Noppert 6-0 Eddie Lovely
Raymond van Barneveld 6-1 Darius Labanauskas
Alan Soutar 6-4 Keane Barry
Glen Durrant 6-4 Peter Wright
Ian White 6-3 James Wade
Joe Cullen 6-2 Krzysztof Ratajski
Danny Noppert 6-4 Jonny Clayton
Raymond van Barneveld 6-2 Alan Soutar
Ian White 6-1 Glen Durrant
Joe Cullen 7-3 Danny Noppert
Raymond van Barneveld 7-3 Ian White
Raymond van Barneveld 8-6 Joe Cullen
Dutch darting legend Raymond van Barneveld is poised to come out of retirement in a bid to regain a place on the PDC circuit at Qualifying School in 2021.
The five-time World Champion brought the curtain down on a glittering career in 2019 but is now set for a sensational u-turn as he looks to recapture his former glories.
The 53-year-old’s final appearance in a PDC major ended in heartbreak with a shock First Round defeat to America’s Darin Young in the 2019/20 World Championship, and Van Barneveld believes he has unfinished business.
“It’s very simple. I miss it. I miss it terribly,” Van Barneveld told RTL News.
“I think the decision [to retire] was the right one, but I have now had a lot of time to think about it. Then I realised I miss it terribly.
“I now have a unique opportunity to realise my dream and to work in a team. I think that is the solution for me.
“Because I haven’t been myself for the past two or three years, you don’t always make the right decisions.
“Your head is haunted and you’re a nightmare for everyone. But that’s different now. I’m looking forward to it.
“I signed for three years, so we have the chance to at least get a tour card for three years.
“If I want to get my tour card, I will have to do my best.”
Van Barneveld, who relinquished his Tour Card at the end of last season, will head to European Qualifying School in January in a bid to reclaim a place on the tour.
Following a 19-year spell in the BDO which saw him lift four world titles, as well as two World Masters and several other major titles, Barney joined the PDC in 2006, citing Phil Taylor as his main motivation.
He quickly developed a competitive rivarly with Taylor which helped take the sport to new heights, and his finest hour came in 2007 when he defeated ‘The Power’ in a sudden death leg to win his first PDC world title at The Circus Tavern.
That was one of 29 PDC titles Barney secured, including two UK Opens, the 2012 Grand Slam and 2014 Premier League.
A disappointing farewell season saw him suffer elimination from the Premier League on home soil in Rotterdam, after which he announced he would bring forward his scheduled retirement with immediate effect, before reversing the decision the following day.
Van Barneveld has now linked up with former manager Ben de Kok, who also works with current world number 24 Jeffrey de Zwaan.
The Hague hero will join a vast field at Qualifying School, which offers any player aged 16 and above the chance to compete to win a coveted two-year PDC Tour Card.
— Live Darts (@livedarts) September 23, 2020
Raymond van Barneveld has revealed his “regret” over his raw post-match interview following his First Round exit at the World Championship.
Van Barneveld suffered a shock defeat to America’s Darin Young at Ally Pally, marking a disastrous end to a glittering career for the five-time World Champion.
The Dutchman was visibly emotional during his interview with Sky Sports and admits he was not considering his words and has since come to terms with the loss.
Raymond van Barneveld has officially resigned his PDC Tour Card after penning an emotional letter to the PDC on Friday.
Van Barneveld crashed out of his final William Hill World Championship in the First Round after a shock defeat to America’s Darin Young last week, marking a devastating end to a glittering career for the Dutch darting icon.
Van Barneveld, a former postman in The Hague, put darts on the map in his homeland in 1998 when he became the first Dutchman to win a BDO world title at Lakeside.
Crowd favourite Barney went on to win a further three BDO world titles before joining the PDC in 2006 and quickly forming an iconic rivalry with Phil Taylor.
In 2007, the pair met in the last World Championship final to be held at The Circus Tavern, and it proved a career-defining night for Van Barneveld as he came from 3-0 down to win a sudden death leg and become a PDC World Champion
Van Barneveld is one of only three players to have won five world titles, and the former world number one won 29 PDC titles and also became the first player to achieve a nine-dart finish in both the Premier League (2006) and the PDC World Championship (2009).
A disappointing final season for the 52-year-old saw him drop out of the world’s top 32 and fail to qualify for a number of TV majors in his farewell campaign, while also suffering elimination from the Premier League in Rotterdam in March, hastily announcing his immediate retirement before reversing the decision the following day.
He ended all speculation of returning to PDC competition next season by withdrawing his Tour Card on Friday, addressing a heartfelt resignation letter to PDC Chief Executive Matthew Porter.
The letter read:
Thanks you dart fans all around the world for your support for all these years. But like I said earlier All Good Things Come To An End ❤️ I wish the PDC, all their staff and all the players a Wonderfull Christmas and a Happy New Year. pic.twitter.com/UMNKuwdZ9P
— Raymond v Barneveld (@Raybar180) December 20, 2019
A raw Raymond van Barneveld admitted “I will never forgive myself” after crashing out of his final World Championship in the First Round.
Van Barneveld’s meeting with American qualifier Darin Young proved to be the legendary Dutchman’s final professional outing as he suffered a 3-1 loss in a nightmare end to his illustrious career.
The five-time World Champion had received a hero’s reception from the crowd as he made his way on to the sport’s most iconic stage but the night was to end with a cruel defeat.
Van Barneveld was inconsolable in his post-match media conference, admitting: “I’ve felt really good for the past couple of weeks but the demons won again.
“I lost First Round in my disaster year and I will never forgive myself.
“I had chances, he hit a fantastic 160 finish, I fought back but I never ever felt comfortable.
“For the last two years, losing the first game, you’re an amateur and you don’t belong at this high level anymore and that’s how I’ll feel for the rest of my life.
“I will hate myself every single day.
“I don’t know what I could have done more? Play less exhibition games, more practice?
“I had practice sessions arranged with Jeffrey de Zwaan but we couldn’t do this because Jeffrey would have been my second match.”
Van Barneveld, who initially announced his plans to retire in November 2018, had drafted in his former nemesis Phil Taylor for a series of practice sessions in the build-up to the sport’s show-piece and had also shown signs of resurgence in a run to the Quarter-Finals of the recent Players Championship Finals.
However, a slow start amid a partisan atmosphere at Ally Pally saw Young silence the crowd by taking the first set.
Van Barneveld battled back by taking the second set 3-0 but lost the crucial fifth leg in set three to leave himself staring defeat in the face.
The American ace landed a killer blow with a stunning 160 checkout on the way to taking the first two legs in the fourth set before Barney forced a decider – only to miss two darts to take the tie to fifth set, which his opponent punished to inflict a devastating loss.
Van Barneveld, a pioneer of Dutch darts who also won the Grand Slam, Premier League and two UK Opens during a glittering career spanning more than three decades, refused to acknowledge his past achievements as he held back the tears backstage.
“That’s in the past, it doesn’t matter,” he added.
“I will never forget or forgive myself for this performance – it has been a nightmare end to a nightmare year.
“I was surprised, nothing more than that. I don’t belong at the top level anymore.”
One of the greatest players of the modern era, Van Barneveld is one of only three players to have won five world titles.
He won the BDO world title at Lakeside in 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005 before moving to the PDC and beating Phil Taylor in the 2007 world final to form an iconic rivalry which spanned the next decade.
The former world number one won 29 PDC titles and also became the first player to achieve a nine-dart finish in both the Premier League (2006) and the PDC World Championship (2009).
Raymond van Barneveld saw his final World Championship campaign brought to a premature end after a shock First Round exit at the hands of Darin Young, while Rob Cross also crashed out on a dramatic night at Alexandra Palace.
Van Barneveld’s meeting with American qualifier Young proved to be the legendary Dutchman final professional outing as he suffered a 3-1 loss in a nightmare end to his illustrious career.
The five-time World Champion had received a hero’s reception from the crowd as he made his way on to the sport’s most iconic stage but the night was to end with a cruel defeat.
Young took the first set 3-1 to pile the pressure on Van Barneveld, who battled back by taking the second set 3-0 but lost the crucial fifth leg in set three to leave himself facing defeat.
The American ace landed another blow with a 160 checkout on the way to taking the first two legs in the fourth set before Van Barneveld forced a decider – only to miss two darts to take the tie to fifth set, which his opponent punished to inflict a devastating loss.
“The demons won again – I never felt comfortable in the whole match,” admitted van Barneveld, who initially announced his retirement in November 2018.
“Darin played really well but I could not find anything and I am really disappointed.
“I had practised well and done everything I could to prepare but I didn’t play anything like that on stage. I will never forget or forgive myself for this performance – it has been a nightmare end to a nightmare year.
“I was surprised, nothing more than that. I don’t belong at the top level anymore.”
Meanwhile, world number two Cross was also left stunned, losing his opener in straight sets to Kim Huybrechts – who moved into Round Three, having seen off Geert Nentjes on Friday.
Huybrechts produced checkouts of 116 and 152 in a dominant display over the 2018 World Champion, who looked out-of-sorts throughout the encounter and averaged just 89.
“I feel stunned – I can’t really believe it,” admitted the Belgian ace.
“Rob Cross did not turn up at all and I know that but I took my chances and I won. I’m very pleased to win.
“I was strong in my mind against one of the best players in the world and I’m proud of how I fought for that victory.”
Luke Humphries joined Huybrechts in Round Three after winning an Ally Pally classic against Jermaine Wattimena in a dramatic duel that went down to sudden-death shootout.
After seeing off Devon Petersen on Friday night, Humphries completed a memorable 24 hours with another impressive display.
Wattimena won the first set without dropping a leg and took the first leg in set two but Humphries stormed back by claiming the next three legs in just 35 darts to level up the tie.
The following two sets were shared before the final set reached a tiebreak, in which Wattimena looked to have taken pole position when he punished Humphries for a missed matched dart.
The recently-crowned PDC World Youth Champion hit back from 5-4 down, taking out 96 before landing tops to seal glory.
“That was the most thrilling game I’ve ever played in,” said Humphries. “I’d love to say I stayed calm and composed but I didn’t feel that way up on the stage. I do think I found the right things at the right time.
“I’m over the moon to have won that match and I showed a lot of bottle – that’s what you need to win titles like this.
“I love playing here. I love the feeling I get when I am playing on the Ally Pally stage and that is the best game I’ve ever been part of.”
Zoran Lerchbacher also upset the odds to win despite missing several match darts against Jamie Hughes.
After the first four sets were shared, Lerchbacher took a two-leg lead in the decider but squandered eight darts to seal the match, allowing Hughes to force a sudden-death shoot-out which the Austrian won on double eight.
Mark McGeeney enjoyed a debut victory as he fended off the challenge of Canada’s Matt Campbell to progress to round two.
Former Lakeside Championship finalist McGeeney won each of the first two sets 3-1 before a stunning 147 finish helped Campbell halve the match deficit.
The fourth set went down to a deciding leg, which saw McGeeney wrap up the win by landing tops.
Luke Woodhouse produced an assured performance to earn a comfortable World Championship debut victory over veteran ace Paul Lim.
65-year-old Lim checked out 160 in the first leg but that was to be as good as it got for the legendary Singapore star as Woodhouse finished 81, 109 and 87 to to take the opening set.
Emerging star Woodhouse also won the following two sets 3-1 to set up a second round meeting with last year’s runner-up Michael Smith.
Darius Labanauskas breezed to a straight sets victory over Matthew Edgar, who failed to recover from losing the first seven legs.
The Lithuanian talent hit three 180s in a dominant display to defeat Edgar in the opening round for the second successive year.
Japan’s Yuki Yamada claimed a debut win over Ryan Meikle, who was also appearing at Alexandra Palace for the first time.
Meikle took the first set in a decider but Yamada won the crucial fifth legs in sets two and three before clinching the fourth set 3-1 to earn a notable victory.
Saturday December 14
Darius Labanauskas 3-0 Matthew Edgar (First Round)
Yuki Yamada 3-1 Ryan Meikle (First Round)
Luke Woodhouse 3-0 Paul Lim (First Round)
Luke Humphries 3-2 Jermaine Wattimena (Second Round)
Mark McGeeney 3-1 Matt Campbell (First Round)
Zoran Lerchbacher 3-2 Jamie Hughes (First Round)
Darin Young 3-1 Raymond van Barneveld (First Round)
Kim Huybrechts 3-0 Rob Cross (Second Round)
Two former World Champions commence their campaigns at the 2019/20 PDC World Championship in a star-studded line-up at Ally Pally on Saturday night.
Part Two of an unmissable double-header on opening weekend sees a clutch of big names take to the stage in a bid to avert an early exit in the sport’s blue riband event.
All eyes will be on departing legend Raymond van Barneveld as he begins the final chapter of his glittering career with a clash against America’s Darin Young.
Van Barneveld will bring the curtain down on a professional career spanning more than three decades come the end of his campaign at Alexandra Palace and will be desperate to bow out on a high.
The five-time World Champion, who triumphed in one of the greatest matches in the sport’s history in the 2007 world final at the Circus Tavern, is aiming to roll back the years one more time and mount a challenge for glory against the odds.
Van Barneveld’s farewell season has largely been one to forget in terms of results, having dropped out of the world’s top 32 and missed out on a place in the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and Grand Slam.
The Dutch maestro finished bottom of the Premier League, reversing a rash decision to retire immediately after elimination in Rotterdam, but his run to the Quarter-Finals of last month’s Players Championship Finals sparks hope for the ‘Barney Army’ that their man still has the heart and desire to match his unquestioned ability.
Van Barneveld is unseeded in a PDC World Championship for the first time and therefore starts out in Round One, with compatriot Jeffrey de Zwaan the reward should he stave off a major upset at the hands of Young.
Young qualified for his tenth PDC World Championship appearance, a first since 2015/16, as the highest Ranked American on the CDC circuit and is looking to pull off a sensational scalp to become the man to end Van Barneveld’s competitive career and mark only a second-ever win in this event.
Rob Cross pulled off one of the biggest darting fairy-tales of all-time when he triumphed here on debut two years ago, and ‘Voltage’ aims to set off on the road to another crowning glory by coming through his opening salvo in style.
The world number two surrendered his world title at the Last 16 stage 12 months ago but has affirmed his position as one of the sport’s greats by securing a further two majors this season – the World Matchplay and European Championship.
Cross faces pressure to defend his £400,000 in prize money against his world ranking from two years ago, but for now will be focused solely on a potentially tough opener against Belgian ace Kim Huybrechts.
Huybrechts, a former PDC World Cup and Players Championship Finals runner-up, has dropped out of the world’s top 32 after missing out on a number of ranked majors this season, and knows he requires a big performance at the palace to potentially resurrect his career.
The former Premier League star came through a hard-fought opener on Friday to edge out Dutch left-hander Geert Nentjes in a deciding set and will look to take confidence from that tenacious display.
Jamie Hughes is one of the most high-profile debutants in this year’s tournament, and ‘Yozza’ aims to announce his Ally Pally arrival in style by seeing off Austria’s Zoran Lerchbacher.
Hughes, who reached two Lakeside Semi-Finals, qualified as the highest ranked player from the ProTour Order of Merit having triumphed at the Czech Open and gone on to qualify for every ranked major this season.
While Hughes is yet to progress beyond the Last 32 stage of a PDC major thus far, he remains a genuine threat in the draw given his formidable scoring power – a trait which has seen him register numerous ton-plus averages on the circuit this term.
Lerchbacher defeated Mervyn King to reach the Last 32 here two years ago, but having since dropped out of the world’s top 64, faces an uphill task if he is to protect his Tour Card.
The 47-year-old partnered Mensur Suljovic in reaching the Quarter-Finals of this year’s World Cup of Darts for Austria but returns to Ally Pally on the back of a torrid season in singles competition.
The opening match of the night sees two debutants collide as former Lakeside finalist Mark McGeeeney meets Canada’s Matt Campbell.
McGeeney was runner-up to Glen Durrant in a dramatic deciding set at Lakeside two years ago but is yet to make the impact he would have hoped for since securing a Tour Card at Qualifying School in January.
McGeeney, though, did reach the Semi-Finals of a ProTour event earlier this year and was beaten 6-4 by Gabriel Clemens in Round One of the recent Players Championship Finals – one of only two major appearances since his switch.
CDC star Campbell is flying the flag for Canada in this year’s competition and will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his legendary compatriot John Part.
The action gets underway from 7pm GMT, with First Round and Second Round matches to be contested over the best of five sets, best of five legs per set.
A tie-break will be in operation from the second round onwards, where the final set must be won by two clear legs. If the score reaches 5-5, the 11th leg will be sudden-death.
Saturday December 14
7.15pm Mark McGeeney v Matt Campbell
8.15pm Jamie Hughes v Zoran Lerchbacher
9.15pm Raymond van Barneveld v Darin Young
10.15pm Rob Cross v Kim Huybrechts (Second Round)
Sixteen-time World Champion Phil Taylor believes Michael van Gerwen will have a “big problem” on his hands with Gerwyn Price at the 2019/20 World Darts Championship.
Van Gerwen is aiming to retain the William Hill World Championship title for the first time and lift the Sid Waddell Trophy for the fourth time in total, but looks to have in-form Price hot on his heels.
The world number one has picked up eight televised titles this season, taking his career tally to over 50, but has seen a fresh challenge to his dominance by the rejuvenated Welshman.
Van Gerwen had gone 19 games without defeat to Price before ‘The Ice Man’ finally stopped the rot en route to retaining the Grand Slam title in November.
Price has appeared in three televised finals since late October, and Taylor believes the 34-year-old presents MVG’s biggest threat in the sport’s show-piece at Alexandra Palace.
“Michael [Van Gerwen] has got a big problem with Gerwyn [Price],” Taylor told Live Darts. “He’s playing superb and is full of confidence.
“He’s fit, young enough still to perform and he’s playing the best darts of his career.
“He does have a little bit of a flaw where he’ll play fantastic for a few legs but then have a few bad ones and miss doubles and that’s the only flaw in his game.
“He’s got the game to win the World Championship and I told him that.
“I told him to get the rest in and get the practice in.
“Gerwyn knows he can do it now, he knows he’s got the game and he’s not frightened of anybody which is good to see.
“It’ll either be him [Price] or Michael [Van Gerwen], I think.”
Taylor, who finished runner-up to Rob Cross in the 2018 final before retiring from professional competition, believes Price has the credentials to become a World Champion despite his below-par record in the competition.
He added: “It’s early days and I’ve seen it before with the amount of players who’ve won a World Championship once, but can he do it? Yes.
“Does he believe? I hope so, because it’d be great to watch.
“I’m not really a watcher of darts now but if he was to get into the final with Michael, I’d watch it.
“But don’t write Rob Cross off or Adrian Lewis – he’s full of confidence now and peaking at the right time.
“He doesn’t look 100 per cent at the minute and he needs to sort himself out that way but I think if he does, he can play a lot better.
“You can’t write anybody off.”
Taylor also revealed he has been practicing with his former rival Raymond van Barneveld in the run-up to the £2.5 million major, which signals Barney’s last competitive appearance before he will follow in ‘The Power’s’ footsteps and call time on his glittering career.
The Stoke maestro says Van Barneveld has looked sharp in practice but admits he is unsure how he will fare on the day.
“It really does all depend which Barney turns up,” added Taylor.
“In practice he’s been great and has had a big smile on his face.
“If he turns up and feels good, he’ll play brilliant, if he doesn’t feel clever he’ll have a miserable face and won’t perform, but I hope he does.”