Raymond van Barneveld marked his return to the William Hill World Darts Championship with a classy 3-0 victory Lourence Ilagan at Alexandra Palace on Monday, setting up a mouth-watering second round clash with Rob Cross.
Night six also saw world number four James Wade progress to round three with a 3-1 win over Maik Kuivenhoven, while debutant Rusty-Jake Rodriguez and Luke Woodhouse enjoyed first round wins.
The return of five-time World Champion Van Barneveld headlined the evening’s action as he entered the stage where he retired two years ago.
The Dutchman began the match by breaking the Ilagan throw, punishing the Filipino ace for three missed doubles before going on to wrap up the set 3-1.
The second set was even more one-sided with the 54-year-old not dropping a leg, doubling his advantage in sets with a 121 checkout.
Another comfortable set followed as Van Barneveld wrapped up the 3-0 win with an average of 97 to set up an encounter with another former World Champion in Cross.
“Rob is an amazing darts player and an amazing guy too, I’m really looking forward to this match,” said the Dutchman after his win.
“I can play much better but I won and that's the main thing. I can’t wait to play Rob Cross, it will be special.”
Van Barneveld, who also featured in the Grand Slam of Darts in November after making his return from retirement at Q School earlier in the year also spoke of his delight to be back in London.
“It’s a privilege to be back, I missed it. At the start of the year I had one goal to be back here," Van Barneveld continued.
“My last game here two years ago was poor, it wasn’t a very good farewell and the crowd deserved better.
Fourth seed Wade will also be back after Christmas, courtesy of a comfortable but scrappy 3-1 win over Kuivenhoven.
Wade raced in to a 2-0 lead dropping just two legs before the Dutchman pulled a set back.
Wade then regained control in the fourth set, breaking the throw in the opening leg before going on to seal the victory.
The multiple TV title winner didn’t produce his most prolific of performances, averaging just 84 with a 105 checkout the only highlight but that was more than enough to see him progress to round three.
Woodhouse and James Wilson opened up night six at Alexandra Palace with Woodhouse running out a 3-1 winner.
Wilson started the quicker of the pair as he took the opening set 3-2 to set out an early marker.
Woodhouse immediately found a reaction to going behind by winning the second set 3-1 including a 100 checkout.
The following two sets also went the way of the Englishman who finished with an average of 91.52, hitting five maximums on his was to the win and a second round tie with Damon Heta.
20-year-old debutant Rodriguez joined his brother Rowby-John in the second round after running out a convincing 3-1 winner over Ben Robb.
Rodriguez opened the match with a 180 to settle any nerves and went on to claim the opening set 3-2.
Robb, who had been beaten 3-0 by Ron Meulenkamp in his only previous appearance at the World Championship in 2019, then claimed his first ever set on Alexandra Palace stage to level the match at 1-1.
However, Rodriguez rallied and went on to win six of the next seven legs and move safely in to round two where he will face Chris Dobey.
“Chris and I are good friends and we know each other well but when we play we won’t be friends on the stage. I’m looking forward to that match,” said the Austrian.
“I’m very happy with how I played, I feel blessed to play in front of this crowd for the first time.
“Playing in the Grand Slam and Players Championship Finals this year gave me stage experience and confidence to perform like I did tonight.
“My brother is always giving me advice, he has more experience than me so it’s good to have him around.”
The William Hill World Darts Championship continues on Tuesday with two sessions of play as the first round reaches its conclusion.
Former finalist Michael Smith and world number five Dimitri van den Bergh take to the stage in the evening after last year's semi-finalist Dave Chisnall headlines the afternoon session.
The tournament is being broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7, and on PDCTV (excluding UK and Netherlands based subscribers).
2021/22 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Monday December 20 (1900 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round
(R1) Luke Woodhouse 3-1 James Wilson (2-3, 3-1, 3-2, 3-1)
(R1) Rusty-Jake Rodriguez 3-1 Ben Robb (3-2, 2-3, 3-0, 3-1)
(R1) Raymond van Barneveld 3-0 Lourence Ilagan (3-1, 3-0, 3-1)
(R2) James Wade 3-1 Maik Kuivenhoven (3-1, 3-1, 0-3, 3-1)
Tuesday December 21
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
2x First Round, 2x Second Round
(R1) Lewy Williams v Toyokazu Shibata
(R1) Jason Lowe v Daniel Larsson
(R2) Mervyn King v Ryan Joyce
(R2) Dave Chisnall v Mike De Decker
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
4x Second Round
(R2) Vincent van der Voort v Adam Hunt
(R2) Michael Smith v Ron Meulenkamp
(R2) Dimitri Van den Bergh v Florian Hempel
(R2) Devon Petersen v Raymond Smith
Best of five sets (no tie-breaks in round one matches)
William Hill Tournament Outright Odds
7/2 Gerwyn Price, 4/1 Michael van Gerwen, 11/2 Jonny Clayton, 7/1 Peter Wright, 16/1 Dimitri Van den Bergh, 22/1 Gary Anderson, 25/1 Nathan Aspinall, 25/1 Michael Smith, 28/1 Rob Cross, 33/1 Jose De Sousa
*Prices correct at time of send, subject to fluctuation. 18+. BeGambleAware.org