The draw for the 2019/2020 PDC World Championship was made live on Sky Sports News on Monday evening, with defending champion Michael van Gerwen set to face either Jelle Klaasen or Kevin Burness on the opening night on Friday December 13.
Second seed Rob Cross could face a potential showdown against former Premier League star Kim Huybrechts if the Belgian overcomes Geert Nentjes, whilst Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price has been pitted against World Cup finalist William O’Connor or Finland’s Marko Kantele.
With the respective routes mapped, the countdown is well and truly on to the annual Ally Pally pilgrimage. Here’s a look at five non-seeded representatives who could shine at the People’s Palace next month.
Gabriel Clemens has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last 18 months which has led to many declaring him as the best German player on the planet. He could have the opportunity to prove it at Alexandra Palace as he faces a potential second round tie against compatriot Max Hopp.
‘The German Giant’ must first overcome a resurgent Benito van de Pas in one of the ties of round one, after the Dutchman came through Monday’s last-chance qualifier in Wigan. However, Clemens will be confident of progressing, particularly given his recent Grand Slam exploits.
The 36-year-old has reached three Pro Tour finals since securing his PDC Tour Card in 2018 but he’s now translated those performances to the big stage – reaching a World Series final in July and boasting a tournament average of over 100 at the Grand Slam, where he was edged out by Glen Durrant in the last 16.
Hopp has been the poster-boy of German darts for the last few years and he’s progressed at a steady rate, but Clemens’ explosive scoring power and impressive temperament poses a real threat to Hopp’s status as top dog and an all-German second round showdown is a mouthwatering prospect.
Raymond van Barneveld
The doyen of Dutch darts is competing in his 28th and final World Championship before retirement and he’ll be desperate to finish with a flourish at Alexandra Palace. He enters in round one this year after relinquishing his top 32 spot and faces experienced American Darin Young.
Young is a seasoned competitor and a very capable player, although Van Barneveld will be hopeful of progressing and setting up a clash against his former protege Jeffrey de Zwaan – the 23rd seed. It could be a passing of the torch, but the five-time world champion will have other ideas.
It’s been a tough year for Barney but he’s shown signs of a resurgence in recent weeks, reaching back-to-back TV quarter-finals. He produced an impressive showing on home soil in Amsterdam, before seeing off Nathan Aspinall, Joe Cullen and Glen Durrant to reach the last eight in Minehead.
The 52-year-old is one of the most enigmatic characters within the sport and aside from last year’s early exit he boasts an impressive Ally Pally record – reaching semi-finals in four of the last six years.
De Zwaan is a world class operator on his day, but the pressure of playing his darting idol in his final tournament before retirement could be a factor. If Barney believes, his farewell could be prolonged in the capital.
Ted Evetts has been given the unenviable task of taking on former Lakeside finalist Fallon Sherrock in his Ally Pally opener. Sherrock stormed through the UK & Ireland Women’s qualifier on Monday with a series of sparkling displays and she’s more than capable of troubling ‘Super Ted’.
Nevertheless, the 22-year-old has enjoyed a prolific season on the Development Tour – scooping eight titles which saw him top the end of season tables by a sizeable margin. He’s now accustomed to winning and that’s an invaluable habit to have.
The Warwickshire ace is competing in his third World Championship and the draws haven’t been kind to him over recent years. He was beaten 3-0 on debut by Gerwyn Price two years ago, before losing in the second round to Adrian Lewis 12 months ago.
Mensur Suljovic awaits Evetts in round two if he can see off Sherrock, although ‘The Gentle’ has never gone beyond the last 16 at Alexandra Palace. The Austrian is adept at taking his opportunities but Evetts certainly has the heavily artillery to trouble Suljovic were they to collide.
Asian darts is developing at a significant rate and Seigo Asada is testament to that. The Japanese star led his nation to their first World Cup of Darts semi-final this summer and is now set to feature in his third consecutive PDC World Championship.
Asada had already secured his Ally Pally berth through the Asian Tour Order of Merit, but he also prevailed in the PDJ Japanese Qualifier in September. He faces Mickey Mansell in round one, with Mansell narrowly making the cut as the 32nd qualifier via the Pro Tour Order of Merit.
‘The Ninja’ impressed in last year’s competition, dumping out Krzysztof Ratajski in round one before losing out to James Wade in a contentious affair, which subsequently resulted in ‘The Machine’ receiving a £5,000 fine from the DRA for his behaviour.
Asada is one of many talented Asian stars to qualify, with Filipino duo Lourence Ilagan and Noel Malicdem making their return alongside Singapore veteran Paul Lim. Mikuru Suzuki will also fly the flag for Japan after coming through the Rest of the World Women’s qualifier in Hildesheim.
Whilst the draw was unkind to Asada 12 months ago, it’s been slightly more generous on this occasion. If he overcomes Mansell in his first round tussle, he’ll face 26th seed Keegan Brown for a place in third round. The 39-year-old, who is set to enter Q School in 2020 – will sense a real opportunity here.
Brendan Dolan has enjoyed a remarkable revival over recent months and it could be argued that his run to the World Championship quarter-finals last year was the catalyst for that.
‘The History-Maker’ scooped five ranking titles between 2013 and 2014 which catapulted him into the world’s top 16, but the former World Grand Prix finalist endured a real slump in form during the last 24 months which saw him plummet out of the world’s top 50.
Nevertheless, the Northern Irishman halted his five-year wait for a PDC ranking title at a Players Championship event in August, before adding to his trophy haul in October. In doing so he’s played arguably the best darts of his career, posting some mammoth averages en route to glory.
He takes on Indian qualifier Nitin Kumar in his opener, as he eyes a second round showdown against Gary Anderson. The fifth seed has been plagued by injury problems throughout 2019 and although he usually rises to the occasion at Ally Pally, there’s uncertainty over how he’ll perform.
Dolan is renowned for being methodical in his approach and that could hamper ‘The Flying Scotsman’, who has often discombobulated up against slower opponents. If Dolan can maintain the form he’s displayed over recent months, Anderson could be in real danger of suffering an early exit.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2019/2020 William Hill World Darts Championship
Seeded Players Enter In Second Round
(1) Michael van Gerwen v Jelle Klaasen/Kevin Burness
(32) Ricky Evans v Mark McGeeney/Matt Campbell
(16) Jonny Clayton v Ryan Joyce/Jan Dekker
(17) Stephen Bunting v Arron Monk/Jose Justicia
(8) James Wade v Ritchie Edhouse/Boris Koltsov
(25) Steve Beaton v Kyle Anderson/Xiaochen Zong
(9) Ian White v Darius Labanauskas/Matthew Edgar
(24) Max Hopp v Gabriel Clemens/Benito van de Pas
(5) Gary Anderson v Brendan Dolan/Nitin Kumar
(28) Steve West v Ryan Searle/Robbie King
(12) Nathan Aspinall v Andy Boulton/Danny Baggish
(21) Krzysztof Ratajski v Jamie Hughes/Zoran Lerchbacher
(4) Michael Smith v Luke Woodhouse/Paul Lim
(29) Dimitri Van den Bergh v Josh Payne/Diogo Portela
(13) Adrian Lewis v Cristo Reyes/Lourence Ilagan
(20) Darren Webster v Ryan Meikle/Yuki Yamada
(2) Rob Cross v Kim Huybrechts/Geert Nentjes
(31) Danny Noppert v Steve Lennon/Callan Rydz
(15) Joe Cullen v James Wilson/Nico Kurz
(18) Jermaine Wattimena v Luke Humphries/Devon Petersen
(7) Peter Wright v Rowby-John Rodriguez/Noel Malicdem
(26) Keegan Brown v Mickey Mansell/Seigo Asada
(10) Dave Chisnall v Vincent van der Voort/Keane Barry
(23) Jeffrey de Zwaan v Raymond van Barneveld/Darin Young
(6) Daryl Gurney v Justin Pipe/Benjamin Pratnemer
(27) Glen Durrant v Jose De Sousa/Damon Heta
(11) Mensur Suljovic v Ted Evetts/Fallon Sherrock
(22) Chris Dobey v Ron Meulenkamp/Ben Robb
(3) Gerwyn Price v William O’Connor/Marko Kantele
(30) John Henderson v James Richardson/Mikuru Suzuki
(14) Simon Whitlock v Harry Ward/Madars Razma
(19) Mervyn King v Ross Smith/Ciaran Teehan