Anderson and Wright kick-off opening night of World Championship

Champion Gary Anderson in action on the opening night of the World Championship.
Champion Gary Anderson in action on the opening night of the World Championship.

Gary Anderson will kick off the defence of his William Hill World Darts Championship title on Thursday December 17, with the tournament’s opening night also featuring Peter Wright up against Keegan Brown at Alexandra Palace.

Darts’ biggest tournament will be played from December 17-January 3 as 72 players do battle for £1.5 million in prize money and the prestigious Sid Waddell Trophy, live on the Sky Sports Darts channel.

The pre-Christmas action features the preliminary and first round matches, which begin on Thursday December 17 as reigning champion Anderson kicks off the event against either Andy Boulton or Per Laursen.

A bumper opening night also sees world number four Peter Wright, the 2014 runner-up, taking on former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown and emerging prospects Jamie Lewis and Daryl Gurney do battle.

Northern Ireland’s Gurney goes into the tournament on a high after his superb run in the recent Players Championship which took him to the semi-finals before losing to eventual winner Michael van Gerwen.

Fellow countryman Brendan Dolan swings into acion in the evening session on Friday, December 18 against Kyle Anderson.

A double session of action on Friday will include two-time semi-finalist Mark Webster in the afternoon and 2014 World Champion Michael van Gerwen - the world number one - opening his challenge to win back the title.

Former finalist Kevin Painter and former Lakeside Champion Steve Beaton are in action in the afternoon session of Saturday December 19 before 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor, 2010 runner-up Simon Whitlock and Holland’s Vincent van der Voort enter the fray in the evening.

Sunday’s final pre-Christmas double session includes in-form Austrian Mensur Suljovic and 2012 finalist Andy Hamilton in the afternoon session and five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld’s all-Dutch clash with Dirk van Duijvenbode in the evening session.

The action on Monday December 21 includes three of the top eight seeds, with Robert Thornton, James Wade and Michael Smith all in action as the preliminary round concludes.

The final two nights of first round games feature four matches per session, including former major finalists Terry Jenkins, Dave Chisnall and Wes Newton on Tuesday December 22 and two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis on Wednesday December 23.

Following the Christmas break, the second round kicks off on Boxing Day evening, potentially including reigning champion Anderson, and continues with double sessions on Sunday December 27 and Monday December 28.

Tuesday December 29 sees the second round conclude in the afternoon session as the third round commences, with the last 16 games being concluded on Wednesday December 30.

The tournament’s final eight players then return on New Year’s Day for the quarter-finals, with the semi-finals on Saturday January 2 and the final on Sunday January 3.

SCHEDULE OF PLAY

PRELIMINARY & FIRST ROUNDS

(P) Denotes Preliminary Round

Thursday December 17 (7pm-11pm)

Andy Boulton v Per Laursen (P)

Jamie Lewis v Daryl Gurney

Peter Wright v Keegan Brown

Gary Anderson v Boulton/Laursen

Friday December 18

Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)

Qiang Sun v Mick McGowan (P)

John Henderson v Darren Webster

Justin Pipe v Christian Kist

Mark Webster v Sun/McGowan

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)

Thanawat Gaweenuntawong v Rene Eidams (P)

Brendan Dolan v Kyle Anderson

Kim Huybrechts v David Pallett

Michael van Gerwen v Gaweenuntawong/Eidams

Saturday December 19

Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)

Kim Viljanen v Sven Groen (P)

Steve Beaton v Koha Kokiri

Ian White v Dimitri Van den Bergh

Kevin Painter v Viljanen/Groen

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)

Keita Ono v Alex Tagarao (P)

Simon Whitlock v Ricky Evans

Vincent van der Voort v Laurence Ryder

Phil Taylor v Ono/Tagarao

Sunday December 20

Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)

Michael Rasztovits v Rob Szabo (P)

Andy Hamilton v Joe Murnan

Mensur Suljovic v Jermaine Wattimena

Jamie Caven v Rasztovits/Szabo

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)

Aleksandr Oreshkin v Paul Lim (P)

Stephen Bunting v Jyhan Artut

Raymond van Barneveld v Dirk van Duijvenbode

Mervyn King v Oreshkin/Lim

Monday December 21 (7pm-11pm)

Warrick Scheffer v John Michael (P)

Robert Thornton v Alan Norris

Michael Smith v Jeffrey De Zwaan

James Wade v Scheffer/Michael

Tuesday December 22 (7pm-11pm)

Dean Winstanley v Ronny Huybrechts

Wes Newton v Cristo Reyes

Dave Chisnall v Rowby-John Rodriguez

Terry Jenkins v Darin Young

Wednesday December 23 (7pm-11pm)

Andrew Gilding v Gerwyn Price

Benito van de Pas v Max Hopp

Adrian Lewis v Jan Dekker

Jelle Klaasen v Joe Cullen

SECOND ROUND

Saturday December 26 (6pm-10pm)

Whitlock/Evans v Caven/Rasztovits/Szabo

Chisnall/Rodriguez v Pipe/Kist

G Anderson/Boulton/Laursen v J Lewis/Gurney

Sunday December 27

Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)

Smith/De Zwaan v Beaton/Kokiri

White/Van den Bergh v van de Pas/Hopp

Van der Voort/Ryder v Dolan/K Anderson

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)

van Barneveld/van Duijvenbode v Bunting/Artut

Wade/Scheffer/Michael v Newton/Reyes

van Gerwen/Gaweenuntawong/Eidams v Henderson/D Webster

Monday December 28

Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)

Thornton/Norris v Hamilton/Murnan

Jenkins/Young v M Webster/Sun/McGowan

K Huybrechts/Pallett v Suljovic/Wattimena

Evening Session (7.30pm-11.30pm)

A Lewis/Dekker v Gilding/Price

Wright/Brown v Winstanley/R Huybrechts

Taylor/Ono/Tagarao v Painter/Viljanen/Groen

Tuesday December 29

Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)

King/Oreshkin/Lim v Klaasen/Cullen

THIRD ROUND

Smith/De Zwaan/Beaton/Kokiri v White/Van den Bergh/van de Pas/Hopp

Wade/Scheffer/Michael/Newton/Reyes v Whitlock/Evans/Caven/Rasztovits/Szabo

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)

A Lewis/Dekker/Gilding/Price v K Huybrechts/Pallett/Suljovic/Wattimena

G Anderson/Boulton/Laursen/J Lewis/Gurney v van der Voort/Ryder/Dolan/K Anderson

van Gerwen/Gaweenuntawong/Eidams/Henderson/D Webster v van Barneveld/van Duijvenbode/Bunting/Artut

Wednesday December 30 (7pm-11pm)

Wright/Brown/Winstanley/R Huybrechts v Chisnall/Rodriguez/Pipe/Kist

Thornton/Norris/Hamilton/Murnan v Jenkins/Young/M Webster/Sun/McGowan

Taylor/Ono/Taragao/Painter/Viljanen/Groen v King/Oreshkin/Klaasen/Cullen