WHERE DID THAT YEAR GO – PADDY POWER WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP DRAW SEES SOME BEAUTIES.

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SMITH TO FACE DOETS OR BUNTZ IN ALLY PALLY OPENER

Michael Smith will begin his defence of the Paddy Power World Darts Championship against either Kevin Doets or Stowe Buntz, after the draw for the sport’s flagship event was made on Monday.

Smith clinched his maiden World Championship crown with a history-making victory over Michael van Gerwen at Alexandra Palace in January, landing an extraordinary nine-dart finish in ‘the greatest leg’.

The world number one will face either Dutch star Doets or Grand Slam quarter-finalist Buntz on his return to the capital, as he aims to become only the fourth player to retain the Sid Waddell Trophy.

The draw, which was conducted live on Sky Sports News by Dennis Priestley and Phil Taylor to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first PDC World Championship final between the pair, sees the top 32 players from the PDC Order of Merit seeded through to round two.

Meanwhile, the first round action will see the ProTour Order of Merit Qualifiers up against the International Representatives, as they battle for the right to take on the seeded stars.

Three-time champion Van Gerwen – the number two seed this year – will open his challenge against former UK Open semi-finalist Keane Barry or debutant Reynaldo Rivera.

Luke Humphries arrives at Alexandra Palace having won three of the sport’s last four televised ranking events, and he will face either Lee Evans or Sandro Eric Sosing for a place in round three.

Two-time champion Peter Wright could face Jim Williams in a stellar showdown if the Welshman overcomes Guyana’s Norman Madhoo in round one.

Fifth seed Gerwyn Price – who lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy in 2021 – will meet debutant Connor Scutt or Poland’s Krzysztof Kciuk in his tenth World Championship appearance.

Ricky Evans and South Africa’s Simon Adams will compete for the right to take on sixth seed Nathan Aspinall, who celebrated World Matchplay glory back in July.

2018 winner Rob Cross begins his campaign against Belgian debutant Mario Vandenbogaerde or Thibault Tricole, who will become the first French player to feature in the World Darts Championship.

Fallon Sherrock – returning to the scene of her ground-breaking success at the World Championship four years ago – plays quick-fire Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena in round one, with Germany’s Martin Schindler awaiting the winner.

Japan’s Mikuru Suzuki has been handed a tough opening assignment against Germany’s Ricardo Pietreczko, as the pair go head-to-head for the right to play 2022 quarter-finalist Callan Rydz.

Two-time World Champion Gary Anderson could face 2010 runner-up Simon Whitlock in a blockbuster second round tussle, with the Australian veteran up against Paolo Nebrida in round one.

Dutch icon Raymond van Barneveld meets the winner of the tie between Poland’s Radek Szaganski and Finland’s Marko Kantele, as he aims to roll back the years on the Ally Pally stage.

Steve Beaton – competing in his 33rd consecutive World Championship – locks horns with Dutch youngster Wessel Nijman, with the reward being a second round clash against Daryl Gurney.

Newly crowned World Youth Champion Luke Littler could take on UK Open champion Andrew Gilding, but the 16-year-old must first come through a clash against former Lakeside Champion Christian Kist.

Four-time semi-finalist James Wade has been drawn against Canada’s Matt Campbell or Philippines’ World Cup star Lourence Ilagan, as the in-form left-hander eyes an elusive triumph on the sport’s biggest stage.

Elsewhere, Germany’s number one Gabriel Clemens – a semi-finalist last year – could take on European Championship semi-finalist Gian van Veen, if the Dutch youngster overcomes Hong Kong’s Man Lok Leung on debut.

The schedule of play for the 2023/24 Paddy Power World Darts Championship will be confirmed in due course.

The tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).

2023/24 Paddy Power World Darts Championship

Draw Bracket – Second Round Onwards

(1) Michael Smith v Kevin Doets/Stowe Buntz

(32) Madars Razma v Mike De Decker/Dragutin Horvat

(16) Ross Smith v Niels Zonneveld/Darren Webster

(17) Chris Dobey v William O’Connor/Bhav Patel

(8) Rob Cross v Mario Vandenbogaerde/Thibault Tricole

(25) Jose de Sousa v Ritchie Edhouse v Jeffrey de Graaf

(9) Jonny Clayton v Steve Lennon/Owen Bates

(24) Krzysztof Ratajski v Jamie Hughes/David Cameron

(4) Peter Wright v Jim Williams/Norman Madhoo

(29) Raymond van Barneveld v Radek Szaganski/Marko Kantele

(13) James Wade v Matt Campbell/Lourence Ilagan

(20) Andrew Gilding v Christian Kist/Luke Littler

(5) Gerwyn Price v Connor Scutt/Krzysztof Kciuk

(28) Brendan Dolan v Mickey Mansell/Xiaochen Zong

(12) Dirk van Duijvenbode v Keegan Brown/Boris Krcmar

(21) Gary Anderson v Simon Whitlock/Paolo Nebrida

(2) Michael van Gerwen v Keane Barry/Reynaldo Rivera

(31) Kim Huybrechts v Richard Veenstra/Ben Robb

(15) Dimitri Van den Bergh v Dylan Slevin/Florian Hempel

(18) Stephen Bunting v Ryan Joyce/Alex Spellman

(7) Danny Noppert v Scott Williams/Haruki Muramatsu

(26) Martin Schindler v Jermaine Wattimena/Fallon Sherrock

(10) Damon Heta v Martin Lukeman/Haupai Puha

(23) Josh Rock v Luke Woodhouse/Berry van Peer

(3) Luke Humphries v Lee Evans/Sandro Eric Sosing

(30) Callan Rydz v Ricardo Pietreczko/Mikuru Suzuki

(14) Joe Cullen v Jules van Dongen/Darren Penhall

(19) Ryan Searle v Ian White/Tomoya Goto

(6) Nathan Aspinall v Ricky Evans/Simon Adams

(27) Daryl Gurney v Steve Beaton/Wessel Nijman

(11) Dave Chisnall v Cameron Menzies/Rusty-Jake Rodriguez

(22) Gabriel Clemens v Gian van Veen/Man Lok Leung

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