As the countdown for Alexandra Palace near its conclusion, here’s our preview ahead of the 2020 William Hill World Darts Championship.
Kevin Burness vs Jelle Klaasen
December 13, 19:10
Iron Man will open up the 2020 William Hill World Darts Championship as he takes on Jelle Klaasen in his second consecutive appearance at Alexandra Palace.
The Newtownards star produced some high-quality displays en route to securing qualification after coming through the PDPA qualifier.
Iron Man produced five stand-out displays en route to securing qualification. Averaging 96.84 over his five victories just highlights just how consistently solid Burness was over the course of the day in Wigan.
In terms of Burness’ performances over the course of the day in Wigan, Iron Man was satisfied with his level of play on a consistent level and insists that there’s more in the tank heading into Alexandra Palace.
“The night before the World Championship qualifier, I was practising so, so well,” said Burness. “I said to myself – I can do this tomorrow. From the very beginning of the event I felt so good and I was playing really well.
“Opening up the tournament doesn’t bother me in the slightest,” added Burness. “I’ll prepare for it as I would for any other match. However, I’ll be putting in more practise than I normally would.
“This year’s been a difficult one. I’ve endured a lot of 6-5 defeats, but on a more positive note – I haven’t rolled over and given up, I’ve really had to battle hard. Obviously what happens in 2020 depends on what happens at Alexandra Palace.”
Jamie Hughes vs Zoran Lerchbacher
December 14, 20:00
As Yozza makes his debut at the PDC World Championship, it’s been an impressive debut year for the Tipton-based star.
Hughes has gained invaluable experience over the course of the year – qualifying for every single televised tournament in 2019, thanks to his fantastic victory at the Czech Darts Open on the PDC’s European Tour.
Yozza’s certainly looking forward to potentially upsetting the odds at Alexandra Palace on debut – ending an impressive year on a positive note.
Hughes takes on Zoran Lerchbacher on the opening weekend. In terms of comparisons of form in 2019, in 30 Players Championship events, Hughes averaged 94.96 overall compared to Lerchbacher’s 90.13 – with Hughes playing nine matches more than the Austrian.
Hughes’ form on TV has been great, but there’s a lot more to come from Yozza, and the West Midlands ace is certainly relishing the challenge that lies ahead.
“I’ve had a great debut year.” Said Hughes. “I’ve scored really heavily this year and opened up some great doors of opportunity for myself, but the best is yet to come.
“I feel that the bursitis woes are fully behind me and I’m looking to put right a few wrongs. I’m looking to show everyone what I’m all about and put in some great performances. I’m just loving life in the PDC since winning my tour-card.”
Harry Ward vs Madars Razma
December 18, 14:30
It’s been a strong debut year for ‘Big H’ in 2019. Since winning his tour-card in January, Ward’s already tasted success on the pro-tour – winning a Players Championship event back in May.
In terms of Ward’s performance levels over the course of the year, the Derbyshire ace averaged 90.01 over 70 matches on-tour compared to Razma’s 92.61 over 52 matches.
As far as prevous meetings go, the pair have only met twice. Razma won their first meeting back in 2017 in a UK Open qualifier, and Ward swept aside the Latvian in a 6-2 win en route to winning Players Championship 16 in Barnsley.
Looking ahead to Alexandra Palace, Ward’s excited at the prospect of debuting at the World Championship.
“I’m over the moon to make it to Alexandra Palace,” said Ward. “At the start of the year, myself and Matt [Ward] agreed that the goal for this year was to make it to Ally Pally and the Players Championship finals. Following my win at PC16 in May I had amounted enough money for both the World Championship and the PC finals – so I’ve been looking forward to the World Championship for a long time now.
“I’ve been practicing everyday for the last 2-3 months and I’m playing a very good standard, so hopefully it comes out when I grace the big stage and I show everyone exactly what I can do.”
James Wilson vs Nico Kurz
December 18, 19:10
For James Wilson, it’s been a testing six months. After battling an eye injury, the Huddersfield ace will be looking to cause some damage at Alexandra Palace, putting the last six months to bed.
Wilson’s opponent at the World Championship is German qualifier Nico Kurz. The German youngster is an unfamiliar opponent to Wilson and the Yorkshireman will be looking to get off to a winning start at Alexandra Palace.
“I’m really looking forward to producing my a-game on the big stage.” Said Wilson. “It’s not been my greatest year, but I’m looking to end the year with a great run at the worlds and make a big push in 2020.”
Benito van de Pas vs Gabriel Clemens
December 18, 21:00
For ‘Big Ben’ it’s been an up-and-down last 12 months or so, but the Dutch ace is really starting to find some scintillating form, reigniting his career.
Van de Pas produced a series of high-quality displays to seal qualification for the William Hill World Darts Championship whilst securing victories over some great names.
After seeing off John Michael, Yordi Meeuwisse, Barrie Bates and Robert Owen, Benito secured his place at Alexandra Palace for the sixth time.
Van de Pas seems to really find his form at the Worlds and the Tilburg-based star is looking forward to testing himself against the world’s best.
“I’m really looking forward to the World Championship and I’m feeling great,” said van de Pas. “I’m practising really well and I’m feeling really confident with my game.
“My form at the PDPA qualifier has motivated me and given me a lot of confidence ahead of Ally Pally. I played really well over the course of the day. It’ll be a tough game with Gabriel, but I’m more than capable of coming through it.”
Daryl Gurney vs Justin Pipe/Benjamin Pratnemer
December 21, 19:10
As Superchin prepares for yet another World Championship campaign, the two-time major winner remains hungry for success after another solid year on-tour.
Gurney tasted success on the European Tour earlier in the year as he picked up the German Darts Championship at the end of March. Following that success, Gurney went on to reach seven Semi-Finals – most notably at the European Championship.
Superchin could face off with Justin Pipe should he get past Benjamin Pratnemer. In terms of previous meetings, Gurney defeated Pipe in the last eight at a Players Championship event back in April.
In other meetings, the pair hadn’t met for two years – with the shares spoiled evenly at 2-2.
Gurney isn’t a player that’s short of confidence and Superchin insists that he’s not showing any mercy heading into Alexandra Palace.
“I’m in it to win it.” Said Gurney. “I’ve been playing well and I’m feeling really good.
“I’ve won two major titles, but the World Championship is something that I’m really hungry to win. The best players in the world will all be up for the fight and I’ll be giving it my all.”
By Tom Beresford – Professional Sports Journalist