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Article: World Darts Championship Preview World Darts Championship Preview World Darts Championship

THE world^s first £1 million tournament begins on Friday when the 2010 World Darts Championship kicks off at Alexandra Palace.

Reigning World Champion Phil Taylor will be amongst the players in action in the first of 13 days of play at the north London venue, as 72 players from 24 countries gather in darts^ biggest event.

The eventual champion on Sunday January 3 will take home £200,000, the highest individual prize ever paid in darts, with a record £1 million prize money on offer, an increase of £260,000 on last year^s event.

Wayne Mardle^s clash with German qualifier Jyhan Artut will open the tournament at 7pm on Friday, with two-time World Champion Dennis Priestley in action against youngster Kevin McDine in the second first round game of the evening.

Taylor then begins his bid for a 15th World Championship title when he meets Basingstoke^s Colin Monk, and enters the event as 4/11 favourite after scooping every major ranking title in 2009.

"It^s really exciting for me and if I don^t win the World Championship this year, I need my backside kicking because I^m in with my best chance ever," said Taylor.

"I^m playing better than ever now and everything^s coming to plan. I^ve been putting everything into it."

Monk, ranked 52nd in the PDC Order of Merit, has yet to defeat Taylor in a competitive game but lost only 6-4 in their last meeting and also hit a nine-dart finish earlier in 2009.

"Nobody wants to draw Phil but I^ve got to get on with it now," said Monk. "He^s only a human being and I^ve got to hope things go my way and he has a bit of a stinker - but that doesn^t happen much to a 14-time World Champion.

"I^m up against it but I need to raise my game and average around 104 or 105 to stand a chance. The main thing is that when he has a shot at a double that I^m on a two-dart finish and not on 167 or 200.

"I^ve got to be there and putting pressure on him. I^ve played him three times and lost but earlier this year I was 4-2 up against him and had three darts at double ten to go 5-2 up and blew it, and lost 6-4."

The night^s final game sees Scottish ace Robert Thornton take on the winner of the preliminary round clash between Denmark^s Per Laursen and Philippines qualifier Christian Perez.

Play continues on Saturday and Sunday with sessions in both the afternoon and evening, with evening-only sessions taking place from Monday December 21-Wednesday December 23 when the first round concludes.

Holland^s Jan van der Rassel, the highest-ranked non-qualified player from the Players Championship Order of Merit this year, came into the tournament on Thursday as a replacement for Chinese number one Shi Yongsheng, who was forced to withdraw after being unable to receive a UK Visa.

Van der Rassel takes on Germany^s Tomas Seyler in the preliminary round on Tuesday.

World number two Raymond van Barneveld begins his bid for a sixth World Championship title on Sunday when he faces New Zealand^s Oceanic Masters champion Warren Parry.

James Wade, the world number three and 2009 Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts winner, meets Bristol^s Steve Brown in his first round game on Wednesday.

Play in the £1 million event will continue post-Christmas and concludes with the final and a third-fourth place play-off on Sunday January 3.

All sessions are shown live in the UK on Sky Sports in High Definition, with live coverage outside of the UK, Ireland and Holland available through

Some tickets for the World Darts Championship are still available from SeeTickets via 0871 220 0260 or World Darts Championship Schedule of Play

First Round (Preliminary Round games denoted by (P))

Friday December 18

7.10pm Wayne Mardle v Jyhan Artut

8.15pm Per Laursen v Christan Perez (P)

8.45pm Dennis Priestley v Kevin McDine

9.50pm Phil Taylor v Colin Monk

10.55pm Robert Thornton v Laursen/Perez

Saturday December 19

12.40pm Jarkko Komula v Roman Konchikov (P)

1.10pm Roland Scholten v Steve Hine

2.15pm Co Stompe v Steve Maish

3.20pm Kirk Shepherd v Scott Burnett

4.25pm Wes Newton v Komula/Konchikov

7.10pm Mervyn King v Matt Clark

8.15pm Aodhagan O^Neill v Les Francis (P)

8.45pm Jelle Klaasen v Barrie Bates

9.50pm Adrian Lewis v O^Neill/Francis

10.55pm Peter Manley v Andy Jenkins

Sunday December 20

12.40pm Ken MacNeil v Norman Madhoo (P)

1.10pm Tony Eccles v Brendan Dolan

2.15pm Mark Dudbridge v Andree Welge

3.20pm Mark Walsh v Mark Webster

4.25pm Alan Tabern v MacNeil/Madhoo

7.10pm Kevin Painter v Mensur Suljovic

8.15pm Phillip Hazel v Osmann Kijamet (P)

8.45pm Jamie Caven v Gary Anderson

9.50pm Raymond van Barneveld v Warren Parry

10.55pm Andy Hamilton v Hazel/Kijamet

Monday December 21

7.10pm Vincent van der Voort v Dylan Duo

8.15pm Haruki Muramatsu v Krzysztof Kciuk (P)

8.45pm John Part v Toon Greebe

9.50pm Terry Jenkins v Paul Nicholson

10.55pm Ronnie Baxter v Muramatsu/Kciuk

Tuesday December 22

7.10pm Andy Smith v Darin Young

8.15pm Tomas Seyler v Jan van der Rassel (P)

8.45pm Steve Beaton v Carlos Rodriguez

9.50pm Colin Osborne v Simon Whitlock

10.55pm Denis Ovens v Seyler/van der Rassel

Wednesday December 23

7.10pm Wayne Jones v Alex Roy

8.15pm Magnus Caris (P) v Francisco Ruiz

8.45pm Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright

9.50pm James Wade v Steve Brown

10.55pm Colin Lloyd v Caris/Ruiz

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