Defending champion Gerwyn Price takes on Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts in the Third Round after winning his opening match against Richie Edhouse
The 2022 PDC World Darts Championship has so far lived up to expectation after a thrilling ten days of First & Second round fixtures.
Most of the early favourites have come through the opening rounds unscathed but the competition only gets fiercer from here.
There have also been a good few upsets in the early stages with a handful of the world’s highest ranking players exiting early doors.
As the Third Round gets underway today (Monday, December 27), we take a look back at what we learned from Rounds 1 & 2 and what we can expect from Round 3 and the rest of the tournament - which concludes on January 3...
World number one and defending champion Gerwyn Price survived a mini scare in his opening match, as he convincingly lost the first set to Richie Edhouse 3-0.
However, Price’s quality shone through and he was able to dispatch his English opponent 3-2, 3-2 and 3-0 in consecutive sets for a relatively comfortable 3-1 win.
The Iceman is about to face a major step up in quality and pedigree though, as he takes on Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts in Round 3.
Huybrechts, who knocked off darting legend Steve Beaton in Round 2, is a ten year veteran of the PDC circuit with latter stage appearances in major tournaments.
The two time Premier League participant and world number 32 will provide a far greater challenge for Price, but the Welshman will still enter the match as heavy favourite.
However, should he allow Huybrechts the same head start that he gave Edhouse in Round 2 then it could be an uncomfortable evening with the Ally Pally crowd expected to be vocally backing the Belgian.
In the same quarter of the bracket are Jonny Clayton and Michael Smith who will both have one eye on a potential quarter-final meeting with Price.
Clayton, the in-form player on the circuit and breakout star of the past two years, came though a tricky Round 2 tie with Irish up and comer Keane Barry to win 3-2 after trailing 2-1 at the start of set four.
Smith had a far more comfortable opener, dispatching Ron Meulenkamp of the Netherlands in straight sets to win 3-0, dropping just one leg in the entire match.
Both are in action on Monday with tricky ties as Smith takes on Ireland’s Willie O’Connor and Clayton faces up to Germany’s Gabriel Clemens.
Those are two difficult matches for the world number eight and nine, and both will have to be at their best to come through, but fans will be hoping for a mouthwatering Round 4 meeting between the two.
In the second quarter of the bracket, the only thing standing between James Wade and a fourth World Championship semi-final could be himself.
The Machine, currently ranked number four in the world, is miles ahead of any other player in his quarter after Dimitri Van den Bergh and Devon Petersen both suffered shock Round 2 exits.
Wade will have to see off veteran Dutchman Vincent Van der Voort in Round 3, by no means an easy match but one where he will be expected to secure the win, to set up a Last 16 tie with the winner of Joe Cullen vs Martjin Kleermaker.
Cullen (13) is the next highest ranked player in that quarter of the draw and should prove Wade’s biggest stumbling block, but there’s also the vastly experienced and formidable Mervyn King to consider.
King, a former World Championship semi-finalist in his own right, will also be looking at the draw and fancying his chances of going all the way to the final four once again.
Over on the other side of the bracket things look far more congested.
Peter Wright came through Round 2 with a reasonably comfortable 3-0 win over Ryan Meikle and will face Australia’s Damon Heta in Round 3.
Heta may not be a household name to the more casual darts fan but the 34-year old has been competitive in major tournaments over the past two years and was able to conquer the much more fancied Luke Woodhouse in Round 2.
That being said, it’s a match that Snakebite will be expected to win to set up a Last 16 clash with Ryan Searle or Danny Noppert.
Searle is considered the dark horse of this year’s tournament and is being tipped by many to go far, so a meeting with the 2020 Champion would prove about as serious a test of those credentials as anyone could hope for.
Jose De Sousa and Nathan Aspinall also feature in the same quarter and it’s likely one of those two will be waiting for Wright/Searle/Heta/Noppert in the quarter finals.
De Sousa came from 2-0 down to secure his place in Round 3 with a 3-2 win over Jason Lowe and can’t afford to give his next opponent the same sort of head start.
Arbroath firefighter Alan Soutar beat the odds to see off Mensur Suljovic in the last round and has already gone further than might have been initially expected so has nothing to fear when he goes up against the Special One.
Aspinall, who beat Joe Murnan 3-2 after trailing 2-1 in Round 2, will also need to up his game to see off Callan Rydz for his place in the Last 16.
Then we come to the final quarter of the bracket which looks set to be an absolute barn-burner from start to finish.
Michael van Gerwen survived a similar mini scare in Round 2 when he trailed 1-0 to Chas Barstow after the opening set but soon took control of the game to win 2-1.
His reward for coming through that match is a Round 3 clash with “Hollywood” Chris Dobey who he has faced and beaten seven times on the PDC circuit in their history.
Although he has the upper hand on Dobey, it’s a difficult tie for MVG and the Green Machine will be hoping to demonstrate the peak of his powers to come through the match and put the rest of the field on notice.
The rest of the quarter is somehow even more competitive, throwing up three ties which would not look out of place in the semi-finals of a major tournament.
Dave Chisnall takes on Luke Humphries to face the winner of MVG v Dobey and 2019 World Champion Rob Cross will face Daryl Gurney who remains a dangerous competitor for anyone despite dropping down the world rankings to 22 in recent years.
The winner of Cross v Gurney will take on either Ian White or Gary Anderson.
The Flying Scotsman will look at his potential route to the final and wonder what he did to deserve such a stacked row of opponents to try and conquer.
After beating two time world champion Adrian Lewis in Round 2, a player who may have dropped out of the top 32 in the world but has shown he has the quality to beat anyone on his day, he now faces White in Round 3.
Should he overcome the talented Englishman, Anderson would then need to potentially face (going by seeding) Cross, van Gerwen and Wright just to make it to the final where he could set up a replay of last year’s showpiece match against Gerwyn Price.
Make no mistake though, the two time world champion has more than enough quality to do that and fans are already dreaming about that potential quarter final clash with MVG should both be playing even close to the best of their abilities.
Round 3 at the PDC World Darts Championship gets underway today and all the action can be watched live on Sky Sports.