The 2021 World Darts Championship is just over a week away. The first round of the prestigious Alexandra Palace-based event will get underway on December 15th, before the final two go head-to-head for the sought-after trophy on January 3rd.
This year the tournament, which is renowned for its electrifying atmosphere, is going to have a very different feel about it. Whilst it’s good news that up to 1,000 fans will be in attendance at Ally Pally for each session – the first time spectators have been allowed to return to the sport since the UK Open in March – the organisers have confirmed that the iconic fancy dress, singing and chanting is prohibited this year.
One thing that will remain the same, however, is the non-stop action throughout the festive period. Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright will be hoping to defend his title, but it is last year’s runner-up and three time champion Michael van Gerwen who is the favourite in the darts World Championship.
The first-round draw took place on December 3rd, with the 64 non-seeded players being drawn into round one with the 32 seeded professionals entering the action in round two.
Wright will get his title defence underway against either Steve West or Amit Gilitwala, whilst ‘Mighty Mike’ van Gerwen, who is heading into the tournament on the back of a Players Championship triumph, will go head-to-head with the winner of Ryan Murray vs Lourence Ilagan.
World No.3 Gerwyn Price, who is the second favourite to win the tournament with the bookies, will go up against Luke Woodhouse or Jamie Lewis in the second round, with Players Championship runner-up Mervyn King going toe-to-toe with Max Hopp or Gordon Mathers.
For the third year in a row, two women will take to the oche at Ally Pally – Lisa Ashton and Deta Hedman. The former made her World Championship debut in 2018, losing to Jan Dekker in the first round, and she will try to better that when she goes up against Adam Hunt in the opening fixtures.
60-year-old Hedman will become the second oldest debutant in the event’s history and the sixth women to participate in the prestigious tournament. She will go head-to-head with Andy Boulton in the first round.
Both women will be hoping to top Fallon Sherrock’s record-breaking run to the third round in last year’s tournament and retired professional Colin ‘Jaws’ Lloyd believes they have the ability to do so.
“Lisa and Deta have played on the big stage so I don’t think they will be expecting anything they haven’t seen before,” Lloyd said.
“They have played in the biggest ladies’ events in the world and Lisa has had the class to be able to play in a good few of the men’s events now.”
Other exciting first round fixtures include 25-year-old Luke Humphries, who is currently ranked 34th in the world, going up against veteran pro Paul Lim, Dirk van Duijvendobe taking on youth champion Bradley Brooks and Steve Beaton vs Diogo Portela.
You can see the full draw below:
Michael van Gerwen vs Ryan Murray/Lourence
Ilagan Ricky Evans vs Mickey Mansell/Haupai Puha
Joe Cullen vs Wayne Jones/Ciaran Teehan
Jonny Clayton vs John Henderson/Marko Kantele
Dave Chisnall vs Keegan Brown/Ryan Meikle
Danny Noppert vs Martijn Kleermaker/Cameron Carolissen
Dimitri van den Bergh vs Luke Humphries/Paul Lim
Jermaine Wattimena vs Derk Telnekes/Nick Kenny
Michael Smith vs Jason Lowe/Dimitri Gorbunov
Devon Petersen vs Steve Lennon/Daniel Larsson
Gary Anderson vs Madars Razma/Toru Suzuki
Mensur Suljovic vs Maik Kuivenhoven/Matthew Edgar
Rob Cross vs Dirk van Duijvenbode/Bradley Brooks
Jamie Hughes vs Adam Hunt/Lisa Ashton
Glen Durrant vs Steve Beaton/Diogo Portela
Adrian Lewis vs Damon Heta/Danny Baggish
Peter Wright vs Steve West/Amit Gilitwala
Gabriel Clemens vs Andy Hamilton/Nico Kurz
Krzysztof Ratajski vs Ryan Joyce/Karel Sedlacek
Simon Whitlock vs Darius Labanauskas/Chengan
Liu James Wade vs Callan Rydz/James Bailey
Stephen Bunting vs Andy Boulton/Deta Hedman
Ian White vs Kim Huybrechts/Di Zhuang
Jeffrey de Zwaan vs Ryan Searle/Danny Lauby
Gerwyn Price vs Luke Woodhouse/Jamie Lewis
Brendan Dolan vs Mike de Decker/Edward Foulkes
Jose de Sousa vs Ross Smith/David Evans
Mervyn King vs Max Hopp/Gordon Mathers
Nathan Aspinall vs Scott Waites/Matt Campbell
Vincent van der Voort vs Ron Meulenkamp/Boris Krcmar
Daryl Gurney vs Willie O’Connor/Niels Zonneveld
Chris Dobey vs Jeff Smith/Keane Barry
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