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Other SportsPDC World Darts Championship, Day One - Preview, how to watch, order...

PDC World Darts Championship, Day One – Preview, how to watch, order of play and predictions

The Main Event

Defending champion Michael Smith is the star turn on the opening night of the 2023 PDC World Darts Championship.

Smith claimed the trophy in January following a memorable win over Michael van Gerwen that included the greatest leg in the history of the sport – Bully Boy hitting a nine-darter seconds after the Dutchman missed double 12 to achieve the feat himself.

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The 33-year-old returns to Alexandra Palace as world number one and among the favourites to land the crown for a second time.

Smith accepts the pressure is on but also knows he’ll present a formidable challenge to any opponent.

He told the PA news agency: “I always wanted to be a world champion, now I have done it the dream is to be a multiple.

“I don’t want to finish my career with just one star on my chest, I don’t know how many I can get, but the minimum is two now. When I get to two the minimum will be three.

“I don’t feel the pressure but it is going to be like that. Everyone wants to take it off me, everyone playing wants to be world champion so I am going to have a target on my back.

“But whoever I am playing they are going to see a picture of me holding the trophy on the wall. It could either put them off or spur them on. But I know I can look at it and be spurred on.

“This is the one, you have got to bring your A-game, it is about bringing it on stage now. Once it clicks like it does in practice who knows what can happen. I can’t wait to get my hands on it again.”

Smith will be last on stage on day one to face either Kevin Doets or Stowe Buntz.

Doets, the 25-year-old Dutchman, made the last 32 of the UK Open earlier this year while American Buntz made his name by beating three televised title winners – including two-time world champion Peter Wright – to progress to the quarter-finals of November’s Grand Slam of Darts.

The 44-year-old crane and rigging manager from Virginia has been one of the stories of the season but insists he has no immediate intention of turning professional.

He told pdc.tv: “Maybe in a couple of years I will, but it’s not something I’m considering at this moment.

“I’ve got a 16-year-old daughter, a 14-year-old son, a 12-year-old stepdaughter, and a seven-year-old stepdaughter, so getting them through school and education is priority number one.

“That is why I have no aspirations to go to Q-School, because I would regret missing more time than I already do away from my family.”

Order of Play (from 1900)

Kevin Doets v Stowe Buntz (round one)
Cameron Menzies v Rusty-Jake Rodriguez (round one)
Simon Whitlock v Paolo Nebrida (round one)
Michael Smith v Doets/Buntz (round two)

How to watch

The PDC World Championship is being screened on Sky Sports in the UK. Day one’s action can be seen on Sky Sports Arena from 1830 and Sky Sports Main Event from 2200.

Predictions

The early stages of the worlds can be a procession with the big names cruising through. However, both Doets and Buntz have the ability to trouble Smith, especially if the champ is suffering a few opening-night nerves.
Expect Bully Boy to progress but it might not be plain sailing.
Elsewhere, the experienced Simon Whitlock should prove too strong for Paolo Nebrida while I’d pick Cameron Menzies to edge out Rusty-Jake Rodriguez.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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