Six must-watch first round ties as World Darts Championship draw is made
The draw for the 2023 World Championship has thrown up some enticing early ties as the best players on planet darts battle for the Sid Waddell Trophy.
The highlight of the darting year gets underway on Thursday, December 15 as Peter Wright attempts to defend the trophy he won by beating Michael Smith in January.
On the opening night, Wright will be in action when he faces the winner of the first round match between Micky Mansell and Ben Robb, which will kick off the tournament.
READ MORE: Gerwyn Price could face Ukrainian qualifier as World Darts Championship draw confirmed
The 32 seeded players go straight into round two but there are some big names in the opening round. Daily Star Sport picks out seven must-watch first-round ties…
Luke Woodhouse v Vladyslav Omelchenko – winner to face Gerwyn Price (1)
Gerwyn Price could face Ukrainian qualifier Vladyslav Omelchenko in round two. Omelchenko came through a special qualifying event in Kyiv, held in place of the usual Russian-dominated EuroAsian event which was scrapped in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
First, though, Omelchenko must spring an upset by beating Luke Woodhouse, who reached the third round at the 2020 tournament. Regardless of whether he gets through, Omelchenko can expect a favourable reception after what his country has been through this year.
Ryan Meikle v Lisa Ashton – winner to face Raymond van Barneveld (32)
Raymond van Barneveld rolled back the years with his run to the last four of the Grand Slam, where he beat Price twice along the way.
That performance ensured he went into the tournament as a seed. A mouth-watering clash against Women’s Series table topper Lisa Ashton awaits if she can see off Ryan Meikle. Looking further ahead, Price and Barney could meet again soon as they are in the same section of the draw.
William O’Connor v Beau Greaves – winner to face Gabriel Clemens (25)
Emerging female star Beau Greaves has been handed a tough opening round clash against Irishman William O’Connor. Greaves booked her spot with a stunning run of results in the Women’s Series, where she pipped Fallon Sherrock to an automatic place.
O’Connor reached the last four of the UK Open earlier this year and is a former European Championship quarter-finalist. He’s produced some big performances on the big stage in the past and he’ll have to conjure another one as Greaves will no doubt have the majority of fans on her side.
Whoever emerges would have a winnable tie against German Gabriel Clemens.
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Ricky Evans v Fallon Sherrock – winner to face Joe Cullen (13)
She may have been controversially given a place in the tournament at late notice, but the draw hasn’t been kind to Fallon Sherrock, who will face ‘Rapid’ Ricky Evans in round one.
The Queen of the Palace will have little time to compose herself between visits against a player who holds a world record for most twos scored in a minute. The winner of that clash will face Masters winner and Premier League finalist Joe Cullen.
Adrian Lewis v Daniel Larsson – winner face Damon Heta (20)
There could be a heavyweight clash as early as the second round if two-time world champion Adrian Lewis can see off Daniel Larsson to set up a tie with Australian World Cup winner Damon Heta, who has enjoyed a breakout year in 2022.
Josh Rock v Jose Justicia – winner to face Callan Rydz (23)
One of the standouts first round ties was always going to feature Josh Rock, whoever he played.
The new World Youth champion pushed Van Gerwen all the way at the Grand Slam with a scintillating performance in defeat and the Ulsterman has the ability to light up the tournament.
The draw has been relatively kind with Spaniard Jose Justicia first up for the 21-year-old. A winnable second round tie against Callan Rydz would be the prize. Wright, Jonny Clayton and Nathan Aspinall are in the same quarter of the draw.
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