Jim Williams stunned fourth seed Peter Wright with a straight-sets victory at Alexandra Palace; the World Darts Championship runs all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – we’re back on Thursday at 12.30pm, live on Sky Sports Darts
By Ali Stafford at Alexandra Palace
Two-time winner Peter “Snakebite” Wright suffered a shock exit from the World Darts Championship, while 16-year-old Luke Littler enjoyed a debut to remember at the Alexandra Palace.
Wright, who won the world championship in 2020 and 2022 and entered the event as fourth seed, struggled throughout and fell to a straight-sets second-round defeat against Jim Williams.
The green hair, Grinch trousers and dancing with cheerleader pom-poms were the only festive cheer offered by Wright, who only managed a 83.87 average and made just four of 18 doubles during a disappointing display.
World Darts Championship: Wednesday Evening Results
|Alex Spellman (R1)
|Ben Robb (R1)
|Luke Littler (R1)
|Jim Williams (R2)
Wright was broken in the opening leg by Williams, who snatched the first set with a sensational 124 checkout on the bullseye in a final-leg decider, with the Scot then missing seven set darts when 2-1 up in the second.
Williams sealed the second set with a 13-darter and broke Wright a 70-finish in the opening leg of the third, before rattling off the next two legs to complete an emphatic victory and book a third-round meeting with either Raymond van Barneveld or Radek Szaganski.
“To be honest I don’t know what happened,” Wright admitted. “Obviously I was nowhere near good enough to compete against Jim Williams, who is a fantastic player. I haven’t got a clue, practice has been going well but I don’t know what happened.
“Jim was the better player on the day. Maybe it would have been a different game if I’d hit one of the doubles to win the second set but I didn’t feel confident of actually getting it to be honest; it was ‘hopefully I hit it’ rather than ‘this one’s going in’. I just played terribly tonight and that’s it.”
World Darts Championship: Wednesday afternoon results
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Littler stars on the big stage
Littler lived up to the pre-match hype with a stunning straight-sets victory over Christian Kist, firing the best average of the tournament so far and dropping just two legs as he raced into the second round.
The teenager needed just 41 darts to breeze through the opening set in straight legs and sealed the second with an impressive 11-dart leg, before posting a 106-checkout in the third on his way to wrapping up victory.
“I can’t believe how quickly I settled into the game,” said Littler, who registered seven 180s in his 11 legs and will play Andrew Gilding in the second round on Thursday. “When I was walking on I felt a bit nervous but as soon as I found the rhythm, I was in.
“[Tonight has] got to be at the top. I’ve been playing since I was 18-months-old, obviously looking up to Phil Taylor. I know he’s watching – that’s for you, Phil! Absolutely over the moon.”
Richard Veenstra also marked his World Championship debut with a victory, seeing off Ben Robb in straight sets to book a meeting with Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts in the next round.
The first match of the evening session saw Ryan Joyce battle back from a set down to claim an impressive 3-1 victory against Alex Spellman, posting a 100.32 average and winning eight of his last nine legs to set up a second-round meeting with Stephen Bunting.
Smith stung by wasp after second-round win
Earlier in the day, Ross Smith was stung by a wasp on stage after completing a convincing 3-1 victory over Niels Zonneveld.
Smith produced seven 180s and the second 170-checkout of the tournament on his way to booking a place in the last-32, only to run into difficult post-match.
“There’s the wasp,” Smith said in his post-match Sky Sports interview. “He’s just stung me like a good one. Little b****r.”
Radek Szaganski claimed a clean-sweep in a final-set decider to edge Mark Kantele 3-2, before Steve Lennon battled back from going two sets down against Owen Bates to beat the Englishman by the same scoreline.
The other match of the session saw Ireland’s William O’Connor fire a 98.74 average and not drop a leg as he raced to a straight-sets win against Bhav Patel.
Live World Darts Championship
What happens on Thursday at the Alexandra Palace?
Former world champion Rob Cross headlines the afternoon session and begins his campaign against French qualifier Thibault Tricole, while 32nd seeds Madars Razma faces Belgium’s Mike De Decker for the chance to take on defending champion Michael Smith in the next round.
World Darts Championship: Thursday afternoon fixtures
|Xiaochen Zong (R1)
|Berry van Peer (R1)
|Mike De Decker (R2)
|Thibault Tricole (R2)
The final two first-round matches see Mickey Mansell face Xiaochen Zong and Luke Woodhouse play Berry van Peer, before UK Open winner Andrew Gilding kicks off the evening action against Littler.
World Darts Championship: Thursday evening fixtures
|Luke Littler (R2)
|Man Lok Leung
Seventh seed Danny Noppert plays Scott Williams and last year’s semi-finalist Gabriel Clemens begins his tournament against Man Lok Leung, with Damon Heta rounding off Thursday’s schedule as he goes up against Martin Lukeman.
The sport’s biggest event sees 96 players compete for the Sid Waddell Trophy and £2.5m in prize money at Alexandra Palace. You can watch all the action live on our dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel.
Watch the World Darts Championship all the way until the final on January 3, 2024 – live on Sky Sports Darts. NOW Sports Month Membership: £21 a month for 6 months