The PDC World Championships get underway in just 6 days, with a record 96-player field and the World’s largest prize fund of £2,500,000 up for grabs.
We preview the opening rounds for Red Dragon’s contingent of professional players on their quest to be named the 'Champion of the World', on the iconic Alexandra Palace stage.
Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright is an icon of the professional game and has proved he can beat the very best in the World. Currently ranked as World No.3 and a former PDC World Championship finalist - Wright is backed as one of the leading contenders to lift the famous Sid Waddell trophy.
After an extraordinary year on the tour 2017 when he lifted his first Telvised PDC Major Trophy , Wright has experience a slightly patchier year of form in 2018 by his high standards. That being said Snakebite has lifted the Melbourne Masters trophy, two ProTour ranking events and reached the final in the World Grand Prix, World Cup of Darts and Champions League all this year - not bad going eh!?
Snakebite comes into the 2nd
round as a seeded player, taking on the winner of Toni Alcinas and Craig Ross. Wright’s quarter of the draw could see a potential last 16 match with old friend and pairs partner Mervyn King and a mouth-watering quarter-final with Gerwyn Price.
What a year it’s been for the No.1 ranked Welsh darts player. The Iceman has rocketed himself up to World number 6 and recently lifted his first PDC Major title at the Grand of Slam Darts in November.
Despite a rough ride in his Premier League debut and suffering a freak ankle injury, the former rugby player showed his mettle to battle through and also pick up his first European Tour title - PDC International Darts Open.
Price awaits the winner of Nathan Aspinall and Geert Nentjes in the 2nd
round and has been drawn in the same quarter of the draw as Peter Wright. The draw could also see early showdowns with Ian White or Kyle Anderson.
Clayton’s rise from county dart player to top 16 ranked PDC professional has been an absolute pleasure to watch over the last few years. 2016 saw ‘The Ferret’ lift the Worthington’s Champion of Champions trophy, his first ProTour title came in 2017 along with a run to the Players Championship’s final before earning his maiden Euro Tour win in 2018.
Now ranked 15th
in the World, Clayton faces a potentially tricky opening match against back-to-back PDC Youth World Champion Dimitri van den Bergh - providing the youngster can navigate his way past USA’s Chuck Puleo.
A former Winmau World Master’s Youth Champion Jamie Lewis burst to darting stardom with his dream run to last year’s semi-finals. Lewis missed out on qualification via the Order of Merit and earned his place in via the final PDC Worlds qualifiers. Lewis played phenomenal darts throughout the tournament, defeating Jonny Clayton, Peter Wright and Darren Webster along the way.
Lewis will enter this year’s tournament seeded into the 2nd
round, playing the winner of Cody Harris and Martin Schindler to potential setup a mouth-watering tie with in-form Daryl Gurney.
Multiple-time PDC Major winner Robert Thornton returns yet again to the Alexandra Palace stage. Thornton narrowly missed out on qualifying as one of the seeded top 32 players but still comfortably qualified for the Championship and will face Swedish qualifier Daniel Larsson in the opening round.
‘The Thorn’ is renowned for his fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude on the oche, making him a danger to anyone he faces in the tournament.
‘The Highlander’ John Henderson enters this year’s tournament ranked 23rd
on the PDC Order of Merit at the 2nd
round after yet another solid year on the Pro Tour.
The former World Grand Prix semi-finalist faces the winner of Gabriel Clemens and Aden Kirk for a potential tie against Michael Smith in the 3rd
Richard North has enjoyed a superb opening two years on the ProTour and has secured his Tour Card for next year, ranking at 39th
on the PDC Order of Merit. Northy has reached multiple European Tour semi-finals this year, gaining valuable stage and TV experience throughout the year.
First up for Richard is a tie against Robert Marijanovic in Round 1, with the winner playing Steve West.
Austrian dynamo Rowby-John Rodriguez is still learning his trade at the age of 24, but the darting wonderkid is set to make an impressive fourth consecutive PDC World Championship appearance in this year’s competition.
The multiple time Development and Challenge Tour title winner is a danger to anyone on the Ally Pally stage and takes on Ricky Evans in an exciting first round fixture.
Luke Humphries is one of the brightest young talents in professional darts and has proved his quality finishing top of the PDC Development Tour Order of Merit in consecutive years.
‘Cool Hand’ faces fellow Englishman Adam Hunt in round 1 to set up a potential showdown with Stephen Bunting.
The 2018/19 competition breaks new ground with the addition of two Women’s Qualifiers for the first time. Current reigning and 4-time BDO Ladies Lakeside Champion Lisa Ashton earned her spot as the UK & Ireland Ladies Qualifier. Ashton previously participated on the PDC Challenge Tour and now has a dream realised by playing at Alexandra Palace.
The Lancashire Rose will play Jan Dekker in her opening fixture for the opportunity to play Mervyn King in Round Two.
The full draw and schedule for PDC World Championships is available online from their website here: https://www.pdc.tv/news/2018/11/29/william-hill-world-championship-schedule