Darts World Championship Preview

Darts’ biggest-ever event begins on Thursday, with Rob Cross beginning his World Darts Championship title defence at Alexandra Palace.

A field of 96 players, including the world’s top female players, from 28 countries will compete across the Christmas and the New Year period live with a record £2.5m prize money on offer.

Cross, who famously defeated Phil Taylor in the final 12 months ago, will take on the winner of the tournament’s opening fixture between World Matchplay semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan and Indian Qualifier Nitin Kumar, as he aims to repeat last year’s incredible success.

Reigning Lakeside Women’s Champion Lisa Ashton will make her Alexandra Palace debut against Dutchman Jan Dekker in another high-profile fixture on the opening night.

Ashton joined Anastasia Dobromyslova in qualifying for the event, with the Russian ace set to take on Ryan Joyce in her opening tie on Monday December 17.

Thursday’s opening night also features the tie between Germany’s Martin Schindler and New Zealand’s Cody Harris, with the winner progressing to face last year’s semi-finalist Jamie Lewis on Friday afternoon.

Two-time World Champion Gary Anderson headlines the second day of action as he meets Paul Nicholson or Kevin Burness, while world number one Michael van Gerwen enters the event on Saturday December 15 where he will play either Alan Tabern or Raymond Smith.

Former World Championship finalist Peter Wright, Dave Chisnall and the legendary Paul Lim are amongst the stars in action on Sunday December 16.

Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld begins his penultimate Ally Pally challenge – ahead of his retirement at the end of next year – on Monday December 17 against either Matthew Edgar or Darius Labanauskas.

The second round concludes on Friday December 21, the third round is split either side of the Christmas break, with the fourth round being played on December 27-28 ahead of the quarter-finals across two sessions on December 29.

The semi-finals on Sunday December 30 will be followed on Tuesday January 1 by the final as sport’s first World Champion of 2019 hoists the Sid Waddell Trophy.

Ladbrokes have revealed the most popular picks with punters ahead of the tournament.

Despite being second-favourite in the betting at 3/1, Gary Anderson is running away with things in the popularity charts and tops the table of outright bets placed so far by some distance.

Meanwhile, The Flying Scotsman’s pal, Michael Smith (14/1), is the second most popular pick in the book ahead of Michael van Gerwen (11/8).

And having recently announced his retirement plans, punters seemingly think Raymond van Barneveld (66/1) will bow out with a bang as the Dutchman is fifth in the popularity charts for bets placed.

Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: “The betting figures suggest we probably won’t be seeing a new name on the Sid Waddell Trophy – but if anyone was to cause an upset at the Ally Pally, punters reckon it’ll be Michael Smith.”

2018 World Darts Championship

Seeded Players Enter In Second Round
(1) Michael van Gerwen v Alan Tabern/Raymond Smith
(32) Max Hopp v Danny Noppert/Royden Lam
(16) Adrian Lewis v Simon Stevenson/Ted Evetts
(17) Raymond van Barneveld v Matthew Edgar/Darius Labanauskas
(8) Simon Whitlock v Ryan Joyce/Anastasia Dobromyslova
(25) Alan Norris v Steve Lennon/James Bailey
(9) James Wade v Krzysztof Ratajski/Seigo Asada
(24) Jelle Klaasen v Keegan Brown/Karel Sedlacek
(5) Daryl Gurney v Ross Smith/Paul Lim
(28) Jamie Lewis v Martin Schindler/Cody Harris
(12) Dave Chisnall v Josh Payne/Jeff Smith
(21) Kim Huybrechts v Robert Thornton/Daniel Larsson
(4) Gary Anderson v Paul Nicholson/Kevin Burness
(29) Jermaine Wattimena v Michael Barnard/Jose De Sousa
(13) Darren Webster v Vincent van der Voort/Lourence Ilagan
(20) Steve Beaton v Chris Dobey/Boris Koltsov
(2) Rob Cross v Jeffrey de Zwaan/Nitin Kumar
(31) Cristo Reyes v Ricky Evans/Rowby-John Rodriguez
(15) Jonny Clayton v Dimitri Van den Bergh/Chuck Puleo
(18) Stephen Bunting v Luke Humphries/Adam Hunt
(7) Mensur Suljovic v Ryan Searle/Stephen Burton
(26) James Wilson v William O’Connor/Yordi Meeuwisse
(10) Michael Smith v Ron Meulenkamp/Diogo Portela
(23) John Henderson v Gabriel Clemens/Aden Kirk
(6) Gerwyn Price v Nathan Aspinall/Geert Nentjes
(27) Kyle Anderson v Jeffrey de Graaf/Noel Malicdem
(11) Ian White v Wayne Jones/Devon Petersen
(22) Steve West v Richard North/Robert Marijanovic
(3) Peter Wright v Toni Alcinas/Craig Ross
(30) Benito van de Pas v Mickey Mansell/Jim Long
(14) Joe Cullen v Brendan Dolan/Yuanjun Liu
(19) Mervyn King v Jan Dekker/Lisa Ashton

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