Rob Cross will begin the defence of his William Hill World Darts Championship title against either Jeffrey de Zwaan or Nitin Kumar next month, whilst top seed Michael van Gerwen is set to face Alan Tabern or Raymond Smith.
The draw for the 2018/2019 William Hill World Darts Championship was made live on Sky Sports News on Monday afternoon, in what promises to be darts’ biggest ever event. It will see 96 players compete from December 13th-January 1st for £2.5 million in prize money and the prestigious Sid Waddell Trophy.
Under the new, expanded format, the top 32 players from the PDC Order of Merit are seeded and enter at the second round stage. The first round consists of 32 qualifiers from the Pro Tour Order of Merit and 32 international qualifiers, which also includes two female representatives.
Reigning champion Cross stunned Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor en route to claiming world title glory on his debut twelve months ago, but he will face either World Matchplay semi-finalist Jeffrey de Zwaan or Indian qualifier Nitin Kumar in his Alexandra Palace opener.
World number one Michael van Gerwen will begin his bid for a third World Championship crown against either Alan Tabern or Australian qualifier Raymond Smith, whilst two-time world champion Gary Anderson will face former Players Championship Finals winner Paul Nicholson, if ‘The Asset’ overcomes Northern Ireland’s Kevin Burness.
Second seed Peter Wright meets the winner of the first-round tie between Spain’s Toni Alcinas and New Zealand debutant Craig Ross, whilst newly crowned Players Championship Finals winner Daryl Gurney faces either Pro Tour qualifier Ross Smith or legendary Singapore star Paul Lim.
Gerwyn Price- who clinched his maiden PDC major title at last week’s Grand Slam of Darts, will be the sixth seed at this year’s World Championship. ‘The Iceman’ plays either Nathan Aspinall or 20-year-old Dutchman Geert Nentjes.
World Matchplay finalist Mensur Suljovic will face either Ryan Searle or Stephen Burton in round-two, with Burton having progressed through the PDPA World Championship qualifier earlier in the afternoon.
Two-time world finalist Simon Whitlock could face three-time women’s world champion Anastasia Dobromyslova, if the Russian overcomes former BDO star Ryan Joyce in round-one. Elsewhere, nine-time major winner James Wade faces a potential showdown against Krzysztof Ratajski, if ‘The Polish Eagle’ defeats Japanese qualifier Seigo Asada.
Premier League finalist Michael Smith plays Ron Meulenkamp or Diogo Portela, whilst two-time world champion Adrian Lewis will meet Simon Stevenson or rising star Ted Evetts for a place in the last 32.
Lewis could take on five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld in round-three, if the legendary Dutchman- competing in his 27th and penultimate World Championship- can defeat either Matthew Edgar or Lithuanian qualifier Darius Labanauskas.
Ian White faces the winner of the first-round tie between Wayne Jones and Devon Petersen, whilst Dave Chisnall is set for a tricky opener against either 2017 World Youth finalist Josh Payne or former Lakeside runner-up Jeff Smith.
Darren Webster plays either Vincent van der Voort or Lourence Ilagan, whilst 14th seed Joe Cullen faces the prospect of a second-round showdown with former World Grand Prix finalist Brendan Dolan, if ‘The History-Maker’ can topple Chinese qualifier Yuanjun Liu.
Grand Slam quarter-finalist Jonny Clayton could face a crunch clash against Dimitri Van den Bergh, who retained his World Youth Championship title last night. However, the Belgian must first overcome debutant Chuck Puleo in round-one.
Former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting will play Development Tour winner Luke Humphries or PDPA qualifier Adam Hunt, while four-time women’s world champion Lisa Ashton takes on former Lakeside semi-finalist Jan Dekker, for the right to take on 19th seed Mervyn King.
Steve Beaton will begin his 28th World Championship campaign against either Chris Dobey or Russia’s Boris Koltsov, whilst 21st seed Kim Huybrechts could collide with two-time PDC major winner Robert Thornton, if the Scot beats Swedish qualifier Daniel Larsson.
Steve West is primed to take on Richard North or Robert Marijanovic for a place in round-three, while last year’s World Grand Prix semi-finalist John Henderson plays either German debutant Gabriel Clemens or last-gasp PDPA qualifier Aden Kirk.
2006 Lakeside world champion Jelle Klaasen could battle it out with former World-Youth champion Keegan Brown in round-two, if ‘Needle’ beats Czech debutant Karel Sedlacek. Meanwhile, 25th seed Alan Norris will be hoping to return to form when he locks horns with Steve Lennon or James Bailey.
James Wilson meets William O’Connor or Yordi Meeuwisse, while Australian ace Kyle Anderson has been pitted against Jeffrey de Graaf or Noel Malicdem. Last year’s World Championship semi-finalist Jamie Lewis has been handed a difficult start, as he plays either German star Martin Schindler or New Zealand’s number one Cody Harris.
Michael Barnard makes his first World Championship appearance for a decade against Portuguese star Jose de Sousa, with the winner set to play 29th seed Jermaine Wattimena. Wattimena’s compatriot Benito van de Pas only confirmed his qualification last week, and he’s been rewarded with a second-round tie against Mickey Mansell or Jim Long.
Spanish star Cristo Reyes claimed the scalp of world champion Rob Cross at last week’s Players Championship Finals, and he could take on ‘Voltage’ in round-three, if he overcomes Ricky Evans or Rowby-John Rodriguez- who collide in a battle of the former World Youth finalists.
Finally, 32nd seed Max Hopp- who has claimed two PDC titles in 2018, could meet Danny Noppert in a crunch second-round clash. ‘Noppie’ reached his first major PDC semi-final at the Players Championship Finals and topped the Pro Tour Order of Merit, but the former Lakeside runner-up has been pitted against Hong Kong’s Royden Lam.
The William Hill World Darts Championship will be broadcast through the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel, and the schedule of play will be announced in the coming days. The full draw and tournament bracket can be viewed below.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018 William Hill World Darts Championship
Seeded Players Enter In Second Round
(1) Michael van Gerwen v Alan Tabern/Raymond Smith
(32) Max Hopp v Danny Noppert/Royden Lam
(16) Adrian Lewis v Simon Stevenson/Ted Evetts
(17) Raymond van Barneveld v Matthew Edgar/Darius Labanauskas
(8) Simon Whitlock v Ryan Joyce/Anastasia Dobromyslova
(25) Alan Norris v Steve Lennon/James Bailey
(9) James Wade v Krzysztof Ratajski/Seigo Asada
(24) Jelle Klaasen v Keegan Brown/Karel Sedlacek
(5) Daryl Gurney v Ross Smith/Paul Lim
(28) Jamie Lewis v Martin Schindler/Cody Harris
(12) Dave Chisnall v Josh Payne/Jeff Smith
(21) Kim Huybrechts v Robert Thornton/Daniel Larsson
(4) Gary Anderson v Paul Nicholson/Kevin Burness
(29) Jermaine Wattimena v Michael Barnard/Jose De Sousa
(13) Darren Webster v Vincent van der Voort/Lourence Ilagan
(20) Steve Beaton v Chris Dobey/Boris Koltsov
(2) Rob Cross v Jeffrey de Zwaan/Nitin Kumar
(31) Cristo Reyes v Ricky Evans/Rowby-John Rodriguez
(15) Jonny Clayton v Dimitri Van den Bergh/Chuck Puleo
(18) Stephen Bunting v Luke Humphries/Adam Hunt
(7) Mensur Suljovic v Ryan Searle/Stephen Burton
(26) James Wilson v William O’Connor/Yordi Meeuwisse
(10) Michael Smith v Ron Meulenkamp/Diogo Portela
(23) John Henderson v Gabriel Clemens/Aden Kirk
(6) Gerwyn Price v Nathan Aspinall/Geert Nentjes
(27) Kyle Anderson v Jeffrey de Graaf/Noel Malicdem
(11) Ian White v Wayne Jones/Devon Petersen
(22) Steve West v Richard North/Robert Marijanovic
(3) Peter Wright v Toni Alcinas/Craig Ross
(30) Benito van de Pas v Mickey Mansell/Jim Long
(14) Joe Cullen v Brendan Dolan/Yuanjun Liu
(19) Mervyn King v Jan Dekker/Lisa Ashton