Gerwyn Price will hope for a calamity-free evening as the William Hill World Darts Championship kicks off tonight at the Alexandra Palace.
The reigning champion and world number one will face the victor of the tournament’s opening match on a night that also welcomes a two-time former winner and the fastest-throwing player on the planet.
The fiery Welshman, often the pantomime villain in the eyes of raucous crowds, is seeking to become just the fourth player to retain their title, after he defeated five-time finalist Gary Anderson at an empty Palace in January.
In that match Price broke the record for the highest set average in World Championship history with 136.64 and ‘The Iceman’ is currently on red-hot form, winning the Grand Slam in November and reaching the final of the Grand Prix in October.
His opponent that night, fellow countryman Jonny Clayton, had arguably the best year of any player, winning the aforementioned Grand Prix, the Premier League, the Masters and the World Series.
‘The Ferret’, whose best performance saw him defeated in round three last year, is ranked number eight in the world but is fourth favourite for the title at 7/1.
If all goes to plan, the two Welshmen will meet in the quarter-finals but Price will first have to overcome Fallon Sherrock, if she manages to repeat her stunning feat in 2019 when she became the first woman to win consecutive matches at the Championships.
The ‘Queen of the Palace’ is ranked 94th in the world but is still smashing records, becoming the first woman to reach a quarter-final in a major darts tournament last month.
Elsewhere, all eyes will be on Michael Van Gerwen to see if he can rekindle his Taylor-esque domination of 2014-2019 after two seasons of indifference by his standards.
Fans can expect world number two and former champion Peter Wright to change his darts as frequently as his flamboyant hairstyle, while still providing the same high level of performance and entertainment.
And finally, Fabian Schmutzler, who only turned 16 in October, will make his debut at the Worlds tomorrow evening, becoming the second youngest ever to do so.
The 2022 William Hill World Darts Championship coverage starts tonight at 7pm on Sky Sports Darts.
Featured image credit: CC TWsk