It’s the most wonderful time of the year because the PDC World Darts Championship is back!
On Tuesday evening, a very different version of the PDC World Darts Championship will kick off at Ally Pally and there is no shortage of compelling clashes in the first round.
While it was initially announced that fans would be permitted, albeit with a number of strict regulations, the decision to move London into Tier 3 means that the annual tournament will be held behind closed doors from Wednesday on.
96 players in total will be competing over 16 days of darts, starting on Tuesday night and continuing throughout the festive period until the final on January 4 (there’s a break on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St. Stephen’s Day).
Michael van Gerwen is predictably favourite to go all the way this year while World Grand Prix champion Gerwyn Price is second favourite. Defending champion Peter Wright is third favourite and that’s when the odds start lengthening.
Two women will feature at this year’s tournament, with three-time BDO Women’s World Championship finalist Deta Hedman and four-time BDO women’s champion Lisa Ashton competing.
There will be plenty of Irish interest in the darts this Christmas as no fewer than seven players from these shores will be taking part.
Drogheda’s Keane Barry is the first Irish player up, with his first round clash against Jeff Smith scheduled for 7.45pm on Tuesday, 15 December. If successful, Barry will face Chris Dobey in the second round.
Next up is Limerick man Willie O’Connor, who gets his campaign underway in the afternoon session on Wednesday, 16 December at 1.45pm. He shares the stage with Niels Zonneveld with the winner going on to face Derry’s own Daryl Gurney in the second round match on Thursday afternoon.
Tyrone thrower Mickey Mansell kicks off the afternoon session on Friday, 18 December and is favourite to beat Haupai Puha at 12.10pm. The winner will play Ricky Evans.
An hour later and a half later on Friday, 18 December, Cork youngster Ciaran Teehan plays Wayne Jones and the victor will progress to a second-round meeting with Joe Cullen next Tuesday.
At 12.10pm on Saturday, December 19, Steve Lennon meets Daniel Larsson with the winner of the round one clash going on to face Devon Petersen.
Fermanagh’s Brendan Dolan doesn’t get his PDC World Darts Championship underway until the second round and he will play the winner of Mike De Decker vs. Edward Shouji Foulkes at 12.10pm on Tuesday, December 22.
The full schedule can be found on PDC.tv.