When has Christmas officially arrived? Not when you start to open your advent calendar, or when you have finally got all your presents sorted, but when the PDC World Darts Championship gets underway at Alexandra Palace - and on night one, the festivities began. This time of year is synonymous with the sport and defending champion Gerwyn Price survived a scare from Ritchie Edhouse on the opening night.
The world number one was out of sorts early on as Edhouse somehow held onto his throw on the opening leg, before hitting a 180 and double top to win the second leg. The world champion, who was hoping for an easy night, was under pressure early on and as Price missed another double top, his sixth in a row to hand the Englishman the opening set, the crowd went wild.
Although Edhouse battled back in the second and tried to put pressure on the defending champion, the Iceman held him off to level the scores at 1-1. The third set summed up just how close this tie was as Price came from two legs down to win it, finishing off with a bullseye and a huge scream to a baying crowd. From there, Price flew through the third set and won six legs in a row to make it through to round three.
Meanwhile, two-time champion Adrian Lewis set up a mouthwatering clash with Gary Anderson in the second round, after he came through a tough test against Matt Campbell. The Englishman got off to a poor start against Matt Campbell, as he missed a shot at the bullseye which cost him the first leg and then found himself 2-0 after another error. However, Jackpot fired back to level the scores at 2-2, but it was the Canadian star who sealed the first set with a finish of 66 to put Lewis on the back foot.
However, Lewis delivered under pressure and hit a 180 on his way to winning the second set. From that point he held off his young challenger and showed his class with a 3-1 win, to set up a meeting with the man who beat him in the 2016 final, Anderson.
Rapid Ricky Evans lived up to his name against underdog Nitin Kumar but he secured a 3-0 win and won the first set with a stunning 167 checkout. The man who has thrown a 180 in 2.6 seconds before, put his Indian opponent to the sword in the second, winning in rapid fashion after two quickfire legs and then pinned a double 16 to seal the set. If we wanted entertainment on the opening night, Evans certainly produced.
The third set came just as quickly as the previous two, as the quickfire hotshot sealed the deal with a 130 finish, as he ended with an average of 96.2 and will now take on Daryl Gurney tomorrow. The crowd loved every moment of his performance, which was capped off with a Cristiano Ronaldo ‘SIUU’ celebration on stage - if you were looking for a name to back in this tournament, Rapid Ricky certainly became an early neutral’s favourite.
Edhouse may have come up short against the defending champion but he did secure a battling win over late stand-in Peter Hudson in the opening match of the night. Hudson came in late for Lihao Wen and pushed his opponent, who got over the line with a 3-2 win despite some poor finishing.
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