5 First Round Matches To Look Out For At The 2024 PDC World Darts Championship

Published on 2 December 2023 at 13:00

It's the most wonderful time of the darting year, as the Christmas season comes around, 96 of the world's very best darts players descend upon London and the Alexandra Palace for a sporting event like no other: the 2024 PDC World Darts Championship. 


The first round will see non-seeded players and qualifiers vie for a place in the second round when the seeded players enter the tournament: here's our five picks for the first round matches you need to look out for this year. 


1) Kevin Doets vs Stowe Buntz

The match that kicks off the entire tournament, qualifier Kevin Doets meets American star Stowe Buntz in the opening game of the 2024 PDC World Darts Championship, with the winner 'rewarded' with a space in round two and a match against the reigning and defending champion Michael Smith at the end of the night. 


Buntz won much praise at the recent Grand Slam, escaping from a tough group involving Dave Chisnall and Peter Wright, then beating Andrew Gilding before falling to Stephen Bunting in the quarter-finals. In what's been a breakout year for some North American talent, Buntz looks to be the best of the lot, and many are tipping him to complete one of the greatest shocks in darting history if he manages to beat Doets and then upset 'Bully Boy'.


2) Jermaine Wattimena vs Fallon Sherrock

Perhaps the highest-quality first round match on paper, world number 51 Wattimena will be looking to avoid becoming the third scalp Sherrock takes in her PDC career. The Queen of the Palace will have overwhelming support against whoever she faces, as evidenced by her clashes against popular talents like Steve Beaton and Mensur Suljovic in recent years. 


Wattimena may have never made it past the third round at the Alexandra Palace, but some decent showings at the UK Open and PC Finals in the 2023/24 season will give Dutch fans hope of another name going deep this time around, rather than pinning all their hopes on Michael Van Gerwen.


3) Mario Vandenbogaerde vs Thibault Tricole 

For anyone unfamiliar with Thibault Tricole, the Frenchman is truly a talent to be feared on his PDC World Championship debut. Last seen in PDC competition representing his country at the World Cup of Darts, his high scoring and doubles success made him the far more formidable player in the French team, and it's important to remember he was the finalist at last year's WDF World Championship. 


Mario Vandenbogaerde meanwhile knocked out a number of seeds at the recent PC Finals, and stood toe to toe with an imperious Van Gerwen before the Dutchman knocked out the Belgian star. Two dark horse talents in arguably the most even quarter of the draw, it shouldn't come as a major surprise if either European went far in this year's competition. 


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4) Ricardo Pietreczko vs Mikuru Suzuki 

Whilst Pietreczko is adored by partisan German crowds, such as when he won the German Open a couple months ago, the UK crowds haven't quite taken to 'Pikachu' and his performances, visibly infuriating the 29-year-old at the Grand Slam, where he finished bottom of his group and lost to the prodigal female talent Beau Greaves.


This time, the German takes on Japanese female veteran Mikuru Suzuki, who alongside the aforementioned Sherrock, will be representing the women's game at this year's tournament. Suzuki will be looking to cement her place in history as the next woman to claim a win at the Alexandra Palace, and considering the form that Pietreczko has shown outside of his native Germany, it may be time to crown a new Queen of the Palace. 


5) Christian Kist vs Luke Littler

Every sport has a next big thing, and Luke Littler might just be that man. At just 16-years-old, he won a thrilling World Youth Championship final against Gian Van Veen in Minehead, 'The Nuke' is someone many fans and pundits alike are saying won't bomb at this year's championship, but could instead leave darting destruction in his wake.


Andrew Gilding is the seed who awaits the winner of this clash, and is perhaps one of the very few clashes where the seeded player will enter the tournament as the underdog. Similarly to the winner of Tricole and Vandenbogaerde, this quarter of the draw looks favourable for whoever progresses, particularly in the case of Littler.


What first round match are you most looking forward to at this year's PDC World Darts Championship? Let us know today over at our official X/Twitter account @HLDivisionsport today!


Image Credit: Sven Mandel


By Jaspar Shepherdson

(@jasparshepmedia on X/Twitter and Instagram)

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