St Helens darts ace Alan Tabern returns to the world stage
Alan Tabern is just one match away from landing a plum tie in the 2018/2019 William Hill World Darts Championship in which a field of 96 players will be competing for Â£2.5 million in prize money and the Sid Waddell Trophy.
The 52-year-old St Helens left-hander, who until recent years had been among the elite of the sport but now trails in the wake of the 'big three' local lads, Dave Chisnall, Michael Smith and Stephen Bunting, faces Aussie Raymond Smith in the first round and victory will earn him a daunting tie in the next stage against the world's no.1 Dutchman Michael Van Gerwen.
The opening round will feature 32 qualifiers from the ProTour Order of Merit, based on prize money won across 41 non-televised events in 2018, and 32 international qualifiers, while under the new, expanded format, the top 32 players from the PDC Order of Merit are seeded and enter at the second round stage.
This included Chisnall, Smith and Bunting - none of whom have ever won the coveted title.
Chizzy's first match is against either Canada's Jeff Smith or Josh Page of Gravesend; Michael Smith will lock horns with the winner of the clash involving Dutchman Ron Meukenkamp or Diogo Portela (the first Brazilian to play on the PDC stage); and Bunting takes on either Newbury's Luke Humphries or Adam Hunt from Durham.
The draw was made live on Sky Sports last night (Monday) and runs from December 13 to January at the Alexandra Palace, London.