Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney has been drawn against Jamie Lewis in the first round of the William Hill World Darts Championships.
The 29-year-old Derry man goes into the tournament on a high after reaching the last four of the Cash Converters Players Championships in Minehead at the weekend.
Fermanagh’s Brendan Dolan faces Kyle Anderson in the first round of the sport’s biggest tournament which sees 72 players converge on London’s Alexandra Palace from December 17-January 3 as they compete for a record £1.5 million in prize money and the coveted Sid Waddell Trophy.
Gurney had a fantastic debut in the Players Championship beating Kim Huybrechts and then causing a huge shock by knocking out holder and world champion Gary Anderson 10-6. The ‘Dude’ then won through to his first major televised semi-final with a 10-5 defeat of Benito van de Pas.
Van de Pas has also impressed in reaching his first quarter-final, but saw Gurney’s mid-game surge of four successive legs prove crucial in turning the game around.
After van de Pas took the opening leg on double 18, Gurney capitalised on a missed double ten to level before moving 2-1 up, only for the Dutchman to hit 180s in the next two as he edged 3-2 ahead.
Gurney landed a 180 in a 14-darter to level, and bounced back from five misses in leg seven by hitting 180 and 140 to open the next as a 13-darter levelled at four-all.
Gurney then finished double four, a two-dart 96 finish and double six to extend his run to four straight legs as he moved 7-4 up, and after van de Pas hit back on tops he added another 13-darter to move 8-5 up.
Double eight extended the lead to four legs, and Gurney then sealed his semi-final spot against van Gerwen on double nine.
Against Mighty Mike, Gurney hit back from an early 2-0 deficit to level, landing three 180s in the opening four legs and finishing 80 and a 14-darter to stay in touch with the world number one.
Van Gerwen landed a 180 in a 14-darter to edge back ahead, and took out 84 on the bull and 74 to take charge, despite two further 180s from Gurney, at 5-2.
Van Gerwen hit 180s in the next two legs as tops and double 18 moved him 7-2 up, before three missed doubles from Gurney proved costly as double eight gave him a six-leg lead.
Gurney landed a 180 in the 11th leg, but double nine moved van Gerwen into a 9-2 lead, before he punished a missed bull from the Northern Irish ace to win a tenth leg, and the killer blow came with a spectacular 170 checkout to seal the win.
The Dutchman has dominated the past month with some brilliant displays as he won the European Championship, Grand Slam of Darts and World Series of Darts Finals titles, and he scooped the £65,000 winner’s prize at the Butlins Minehead Resort by beating Adrian Lewis 11-6 in the final.
Full William Hill World Championship draw:
Preliminary Round Draw
Michael Rasztovits (Austria) v Rob Szabo (New Zealand)
Keita Ono (Japan) v Alex Tagarao (Philippines)
Warrick Scheffer (South Africa) v John Michael (Greece)
Qiang Sun (China) v Mick McGowan (Ireland)
Aleksandr Oreshkin (Russia) v Paul Lim (Singapore)
Kim Viljanen (Finland) v Sven Groen (Netherlands)
PDPA Qualifier Runner-Up v Per Laursen (Denmark)
Thanawat Gaweenuntawong (Thailand) v Rene Eidams (Germany)
First Round Draw
Michael van Gerwen v Gaweenuntawong/Eidams
Gary Anderson v PDPA Qualifier Runner-Up/Laursen
Phil Taylor v Ono/Tagarao
Peter Wright v Keegan Brown
Adrian Lewis v Jan Dekker
Robert Thornton v Alan Norris
James Wade v Scheffer/Michael
Michael Smith v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Ian White v Dimitri van den Bergh
Simon Whitlock v PDPA Qualifier
Terry Jenkins v Darin Young
Kim Huybrechts v David Pallett
Dave Chisnall v Rowby-John Rodriguez
Mervyn King v Oreshkin/Lim
Vincent van der Voort v Loz Ryder
Raymond van Barneveld v Dirk van Duijvenbode
Stephen Bunting v Jyhan Artut
Brendan Dolan v Kyle Anderson
Jelle Klaasen v Joe Cullen
Justin Pipe v Christian Kist
Mensur Suljovic v Jermaine Wattimena
Mark Webster v Sun/McGowan
Jamie Caven v Rasztovits/Szabo
Benito van de Pas v Max Hopp
Steve Beaton v Koha Kokri
Wes Newton v Cristo Reyes
Andy Hamilton v Joe Murnan
Andrew Gilding v Gerwyn Price
Dean Winstanley v Ronny Huybrechts
Kevin Painter v Viljanen/Groen
Jamie Lewis v Daryl Gurney
John Henderson v Darren Webster