2021/22 William Hill World Darts Championship preview

2021/22 William Hill World Darts Championship preview

The 2021/22 William Hill World Darts Championship gets underway at London's Alexandra Palace on Wednesday as Gerwyn Price begins his title defence on the opening night.
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The 2021/22 William Hill World Darts Championship gets underway at London's Alexandra Palace on Wednesday as Gerwyn Price begins his title defence on the opening night.

For the first time in almost two years, a full crowd will be inside the iconic Ally Pally venue to witness the world's biggest darts event.

The festive feast of darts runs from Wednesday December 15 through to the final on Wednesday January 3, with 96 players from around the world competing for £2.5million in prize money.

Price's defence of the Sid Waddell Trophy will begin on the opening night against either Ritchie Edhouse or Peter Hudson, a late replacement for Lihao Wen after the Chinese qualifier did not receive his visa in time to travel to the UK.

The world number one is bidding to join Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis as back-to-back PDC World Champions, but Price insists he is ready to carry a new level of expectation.

“I’m looking forward to John McDonald announcing me as reigning and defending champion in front of fans,” Price smiled.

“To be part of a small number of players who are back-to-back World Champions would be special.

“I’ve done it before at the Grand Slam and on the European Tour, so I seem to perform well when that sort of pressure is put on me.

“I’ve become a lot more confident and believe I’m the rightful world number one and World Champion. If somebody plays well against me, I find that extra gear. It’s good to know I’ve got an A game to beat anyone.

“I believe 100% that I can win it. I am going to win it."

The pre-Christmas period will see the first and second rounds played across nine days from December 15-23.

An eagerly-anticipated first session will also see two-time World Champion Lewis up against Canada's Matt Campbell, while speedster Ricky Evans takes on India's Nitin Kumar.

Fallon Sherrock will face Steve Beaton on Sunday December 19 as she returns to the stage where she famously became the first woman to win at the PDC's World Championship two years ago.

Fresh from making history in November's Grand Slam of Darts as the first woman to reach the quarter-finals of a televised PDC ranking event, Sherrock is feeling good about the prospect of continuing her momentum on the biggest stage.

"I'm feeling so confident in my game at the moment," said Sherrock.

"Steve is an iconic player and he's been around for so many years, he's a legend. I know he's a great player and he'll push me, so I'm excited to see what happens.

"I don't look too far ahead so I'm only looking at playing against Steve. I try to ignore everything else that's happening, because I don't want to put extra pressure on myself.

"I've got amazing memories and it gives me goose-bumps when I think back to two years ago."

A blockbuster evening of action on Sunday December 19 will also see the most successful player of 2021, Jonny Clayton, in action against Keane Barry or Royden Lam and the all-German tie between Florian Hempel and Martin Schindler.

World number two Peter Wright will begin his quest for a second Ally Pally title in three years against either Ryan Meikle or 16-year-old German Fabian Schmutzler on Friday December 17

Heading into this year’s event, World Matchplay champion Wright is taking a philosophical approach to his chances of becoming a multiple World Champion.

“Being World Champion is something that can never be taken away from me,” the 51-year-old reflected.

“Even if I never won it again, which I will, then my name would still go down in history among the greats of the game.

“From the age of 13 my dream was to become World Champion. It took me to almost the age of 50 to achieve it but the journey was worth it.

“Now the challenge for me is to join greats who have won it more than once. I’m hungry to add my name to that list.”

Saturday December 18 will see Michael van Gerwen open his challenge to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy for a fourth time against Chas Barstow or John Norman Jnr.

A barren year for Van Gerwen saw him go a calendar year without a televised ranking title for the first time since 2011.

However, only Phil Taylor has lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy on more occasions that Van Gerwen, who is hungrier than ever for a fourth World Championship title after last tasting Ally Pally success three years ago.

"There's always a lot of pressure on my shoulders,” Van Gerwen added.

"The Worlds is always the one you want but when you don't win it you have to keep working harder, keep fighting.

"To win it three times is a special achievement for me. Only Phil Taylor has won it more in the PDC.

"There's still more in the tank. I've been through a bit of a rough period but I know there's more to come and more memories to be made on this stage.

"If I play my best game then no one can beat me, simple. They all know that, but no one will say it.

"Of course, I didn’t do what I wanted to do [over the last two years], but as long as you keep believing in yourself and know where you want to go, things can get better.”

Thursday December 16 will see the first double session, as two-time winner Anderson plays either Lewis - in a possible rematch of two previous finals - or Campbell, and Lisa Ashton meets Dutchman Ron Meulenkamp.

Darting legend Paul Lim, 67, will become the oldest player to have competed in a PDC World Championship on Friday December 17 when he takes on Joe Murnan.

Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld will make his Alexandra Palace return on Monday December 20 against Lourence Ilagan, on a night which will also see three-time semi-finalist James Wade begin his campaign.

The first round will draw to a close on Tuesday December 21, with 2018/19 runner-up Michael Smith and two-time quarter-finalist Dimitri Van den Bergh in second round action.

A double session of second round action on Wednesday December 22 will feature former runner-up Simon Whitlock, two-time semi-finalist Nathan Aspinall and two-time quarter-finalist Luke Humphries

The second round will conclude across two sessions on Thursday December 23, when former champion Rob Cross and world number seven Jose de Sousa are among the stars in action.

Following a three-day Christmas break, the third and fourth rounds will be held from December 27-30, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final being held from January 1-3.

Alongside the £500,000 top prize for the eventual champion, who will also lift the Sid Waddell, players will be competing to win a special £50,000 bonus which is on offer from PDC partner Selco for the first player to hit two nine-dart finishes in this year's event.

Should a player achieve that feat - which would be a World Championship first - a further £50,000 would be shared between one lucky fan who registered via www.selcobw.com/100kdarts and Selco's nominated charity, Global's "Make Some Noise".

Tickets for some sessions remain available through SeeTickets.

Details of Hospitality Packages can be seen at this link.

The tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7, and on PDCTV (excluding subscribers in the UK, Ireland & Netherlands).

2021/22 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Wednesday December 15 (1900 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round

Ritchie Edhouse v Peter Hudson*** (R1)
Ricky Evans v Nitin Kumar (R1)
Adrian Lewis v Matt Campbell (R1)
Gerwyn Price v Edhouse/Hudson (R2)

Thursday December 16
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round

Steve Lennon v Madars Razma (R1)
Scott Mitchell v Chris Landman (R1)
Chas Barstow v John Norman Jnr (R1)
Daryl Gurney v Evans/Kumar (R2)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round

William O’Connor v Danny Lauby (R1)
Ryan Meikle v Fabian Schmutzler (R1)
Ron Meulenkamp v Lisa Ashton (R1)
Gary Anderson v Lewis/Campbell (R2)

Friday December 17
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round

Ryan Joyce v Roman Benecky (R1)
Keane Barry v Royden Lam (R1)
Jermaine Wattimena v Boris Koltsov (R1)
Krzysztof Ratajski v Lennon/Razma (R2)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round

Joe Murnan v Paul Lim (R1)
William Borland v Bradley Brooks (R1)
Ross Smith v Jeff Smith (R1)
Peter Wright v Meikle/Schmutzler (R2)

Saturday December 18
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)

3x First Round, 1x Second Round
Jamie Hughes v Raymond Smith (R1)
Callan Rydz v Yuki Yamada (R1)
Darius Labanauskas v Mike De Decker* (R1)
Ian White v Mitchell/Landman (R2)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round

Adam Hunt v Boris Krcmar (R1)
Ted Evetts v Jim Williams (R1)
Rowby-John Rodriguez v Nick Kenny (R1)
Michael van Gerwen v Barstow/Norman Jnr (R2)

Sunday December 19
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round

Maik Kuivenhoven v Ky Smith (R1)
Jason Heaver v Gordon Mathers** (R1)
Alan Soutar v Diogo Portela (R1)
Stephen Bunting v Ross Smith/J Smith (R2)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round
Martijn Kleermaker v John Michael (R1)
Florian Hempel v Martin Schindler (R1)
Steve Beaton v Fallon Sherrock (R1)
Jonny Clayton v Barry/Lam (R2)

Monday December 20 (1900 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round
Luke Woodhouse v James Wilson (R1)
Rusty-Jake Rodriguez v Ben Robb (R1)
Raymond van Barneveld v Lourence Ilagan (R1)
James Wade v Kuivenhoven/K Smith (R2)

Tuesday December 21
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)

2x First Round, 2x Second Round
Lewy Williams v Toyokazu Shibata (R1)
Jason Lowe v Daniel Larsson (R1)
Mervyn King v Joyce/Benecky (R2)
Dave Chisnall v Labanauskas/De Decker (R2)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
4x Second Round

Vincent van der Voort v Hunt/Krcmar (R2)
Michael Smith v Meulenkamp/Ashton (R2)
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Hempel/Schindler (R2)
Devon Petersen v Hughes/Raymond Smith (R2)

Wednesday December 22
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
4x Second Round

Ryan Searle v Borland/Brooks (R2)
Glen Durrant v O’Connor/Lauby (R2)
Luke Humphries v Rowby-John Rodriguez/Kenny (R2)
Joe Cullen v Evetts/J Williams (R2)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
4x Second Round

Nathan Aspinall v Murnan/Lim (R2)
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Wattimena/Koltsov (R2)
Kim Huybrechts v Beaton/Sherrock (R2)
Simon Whitlock v Kleermaker/Michael (R2)

Thursday December 23
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
4x Second Round

Damon Heta v Woodhouse/Wilson (R2)
Brendan Dolan v Rydz/Yamada (R2)
Mensur Suljovic v Soutar/Portela (R2)
Jose de Sousa v Lowe/Larsson (R2)

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
4x Second Round

Danny Noppert v Heaver/Mathers (R2)
Gabriel Clemens v L Williams/Shibata (R2)
Rob Cross v Van Barneveld/Ilagan (R2)
Chris Dobey v Rusty-Jake Rodriguez/Robb (R2)

Monday December 27
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
3x Third Round

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
3x Third Round

Tuesday December 28
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
3x Third Round

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
3x Third Round

Wednesday December 29
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
3x Third Round

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
1x Third Round, 2x Fourth Round

Thursday December 30
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
3x Fourth Round

Evening Session (1900 GMT)
3x Fourth Round

Saturday January 1
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
2x Quarter-Finals

Evening Session (1930 GMT)
2x Quarter-Finals

Sunday January 2 (1930 GMT)
2x Semi-Finals

Monday January 3 (2000 GMT)

* Mike De Decker replaced Charles Losper, who withdrew on December 6.
** Gordon Mathers replaced Juan Rodriguez,
who withdrew on December 11.
*** Peter Hudson replaced Lihao Wen,
who withdrew on December 14.

Schedule subject to change

First Round - Best of five sets
Second Round - Best of five sets
Third Round - Best of seven sets
Fourth Round - Best of seven sets
Quarter-Finals - Best of nine sets
Semi-Finals - Best of 11 sets
Final - Best of 13 sets

First Round matches will not have a tie-break; if the fifth set reaches two-all in legs, then the fifth leg will be sudden-death.
From the Second Round onwards, there will be a tie-break rule employed in all matches; where a deciding set must be won by two clear legs. If the score in the final set reaches 5-5 then a sudden-death leg will be played.
There would be no throw for the bull in any sudden-death legs.

Prize Fund
Winner - £500,000
Runner-Up - £200,000
Semi-Finalists - £100,000
Quarter-Finalists - £50,000
Fourth Round - £35,000
Third Round - £25,000
Second Round - £15,000
First Round - £7,500
Total - £2,500,000

Nine-Dart Bonus!
A £100,000 prize is on offer from PDC partner Selco for the first player to hit two nine-dart finishes in the event, which would be split as £50,000 to the player, £25,000 to Selco’s charity partner (Global’s Make Some Noise) and £25,000 to a fan who registers via www.selcobw.com/100kdarts.