Phil Taylor will begin his quest for a record 17th world title on Friday evening, taking on Germany’s Jyhan Artut at London’s Alexandra Palace on day two of the PDC World Darts Championship.
The 54-year-old won the world title for a 16th time in 2013 – defeating Michael van Gerwen 7-4 – but was sensationally knocked out last year by youngster Michael Smith. Taylor has not enjoyed the most lucrative of seasons but he did secure a 15th World Matchplay crown in July as well as winning a sixth Grand Slam of Darts title last month.
Artut has made three previous appearances at the World Championship, winning one match. In 2010 he defeated Wayne Mardle but his most memorable match came in 2012, when he missed four darts to knock out Gary Anderson. The German is currently ranked 57th in the world.
Last year’s runner-up, Peter Wright, starts his tournament against debutant Gerwyn Price. After losing the final to van Gerwen 12 months ago, Wright has advanced to fifth in the PDC Order of Merit, and also triumphed in July’s European Darts Open. However, he has struggled in the majors, suffering a first round defeat to Stephen Bunting at the Matchplay, while losing to rank outsider Aden Kirk at the UK Open.
Formerly a rugby union player – playing as a hooker for Welsh Premier Division club Neath – Price has qualified for the World Championship at his first attempt, after winning a tour card at Q School back in January.
Former world finalist Andy Hamilton kicks off the night against Canada’s Dave Richardson. Hamilton, now ranked 12th in the world, has endured a difficult year but he has been afforded a favourable draw, with a second round bout against either Steve Beaton or Kyle Anderson if he can win tonight.
Richardson is making his World Championship debut, qualifying virtue of his win in the PDC Spectacular – the North American qualifying event – in August.
Stuart Kellett, a former World Masters runner-up finishes off the night against the winner of the preliminary round match between Kim Viljanen and Sascha Stein.