The 2021/22 World Darts Championship, which was the 29th edition of the tournament since the split, was held from December 15 to January 3. The event was held at Alexandra Palace, with contestants competing for a cash prize of £2.5 million, of which £500,000 was awarded to the winner, £200,000 to the runner up, £100,000 to the semi-finalists, £50,000 to the quarterfinalists, £35,000 to those who finished in the fourth round, £25,000 to those who finished in the third round, £15,000 to those who finished in the second round, and £7,500 to those who were knocked out in the first round.
64 of the 96 darts players, who secured their places through the Pro Tour Order of Merit or the International Qualifiers, were paired and had to play in the first round. They were seeded into 4 sections of 16.
The winners of the first round were then paired with the darts players who qualified through their rankings in the Order of Merit. The first and second round were both played in best of 5 sets matches. The winners of the second round then played in the third round against players from the same section in a best of 7 sets match. The third round winners then went into the fourth round, and the winners of that round then played in the quarterfinals, where the two remaining players in each section faced each other in a best of 9 sets match.
The winners advanced to the semi-finals, which were played to a best of 11 sets, and then the winners proceeded to the finals that was played to a best of 13 sets.
In section 1, the following players were paired in the opening round: Ritchie Edhouse and Peter Hudson, Steven Beaton and Fallon Sherrock, Ross Smith and Jeff Smith, Jermaine Wattimena and Boris Koltsov, Keane Barry and Royden Lam, Lewy Williams and Toyokazu Shibata, Ron Meulenkamp and Lisa Ashton, William O'Connor and Danny Lauby Jr. There was only one upset, when qualifier Boris Koltsov beat Jermaine Wattiemena, but apart from that, all the Pro Tour Order of Merit players won their games: Ritchie Edhouse, Steve Beaton, Ross Smith, Keane Barry, Levy Williams, and William O'Connor.
In section 2, the opening round featured matches between Maik Kuivenhoven and Ky Smith, Adam Hunt and Boris Krcmar, Ted Evetts and Jim Williams, Martijn Kleermaker and John Michael, Florian Hempel and Martin Schindler, Jamie Hughes and Raymond Smith, Steve Lennon and Madars Razma, and Ryan Joyce and Roman Benecky. Jim Williams and Raymond Smith were the only players from the International Qualifiers who won their matches, to advance into the next round alongside Maik Kuivenhoven, Adam Hunt, Martijn Kleermaker, Florian Hempel, Steve Lennon, and Ryan Joyce.
In the bottom half, the pairings in section 3 were Ryan Meikle and Fabian Schmutzler, Luke Woodhouse and James Wilson, William Borland and Bradley Brooks, Jason Heaver and Gordon Mathers, Jason Lowe and Daniel Larsson, Alan Soutar and Diogo Portela, Joe Murnan and Paul Lim, and Callan Rydz and Yuki Yamada. Ryanb Meikle, Luke Woodhouse, William Borland, Jason Heaver, Jason Lowe, Alan Soutar, Joe Murnan, and Yuki Yamada, all of the players who qualified through their Pro Tour Order of Merit rankings, won their games.
In section 4, Chas Barstow and John Norman Jr, Rusty-Jake Rodriguez and Ben Robb, Darius Labanauskas and Mike De Decker, Rowby-John Rodriguez and Nick Kenny, Adrian Lewis and Matt Campbell, Scott Mitchell and Chris Landman, Raymond van Barneveld and Lourence Ilagan, and Ricky Evans and Nitin Kumar, were paired. Mike De Decker and Chris Landman were the only players who entered the competition through the International Qualifiers who won their games, joining Chars Barstow, Rusty-Jake Rodriguez, Rowby-John Rodriguez, Adrian Lewis, Raymond van Barnevel and Ricky Evans, to advance to the next round.
In section 1 of the second round, the top seeded players entered the competition and mostly won their games, with the exception of Stephen Bunting and Glen Durrant who lost to Ross Smith and William O'Connor. They advanced to the next round along with Gerwyn Price, Kim Huybrechts, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Jonny Claton, Gabriel Clemens, and Michael Smith.
Section 2 saw James Wade, Vincent van der Voort, Joe Cullen, and Mervyn King win from those who entered the competition on the Order of Merit rankings. Simon Whitlock, Dimitri Van den Bergh, Devon Petersen, and Krysztof Ratajski were all beaten by the winners of the opening round: Martijn Kleermaker, Florian Hempel, Raymond Smith, and Steve Lennon.
In section 3, Peter Wright, Damon Heta, Ryan Searle, Danny Noppert, Jose de Sousa, Mensur Soljovic, Nathan Aspinall, and Brendan Dolan all entered the second round, and they all won their games excluding Mensur Soljovic and Brendan Dolan, who were knocked out by Alan Soutar and Callan Rydz.
All of the players who had a bye for the opening round won their games in section 4. Michael van Gerwen, Chris Dobey, Dave Cshinall, Luke Humphries, Gary Anderson, Ian White, Rob Cross and Daryl Gurney all advanced to the third round.
The highlight game in the third round of section 1 was when Gerwyn Price played Kim Huybrechts. Price knocked Huybrechts out of the competition, but only narrowly, with the game ending 4-3 to the Welsh player. Dirk van Duijvenbode knocked out Ross Smith, who had done well to reach the third round, Jonny Clayton knocked out Gabriel Clemens and Michael Smith beat William O'Connor.
Raymond Smith, who had only reached the tournament through the International Qualifiers, beat Florian Hempel, who had previously beaten Dimitri Van den Bergh, who placed 5th in the Order of Merit rankings. Martijn Kleermaker was the other underdog who won his match, beating Joe Cullen 3-4. Vincent van der Voort withdrew from his game, giving James Wade a place in the fourth round, and Mervyn King beat Steve Lennon 4-0.
Peter Wright, Ryan Searle, Alan Soutar and Callan Rydz won their games in section 3. Soutar and Rydz caused upsets as they knocked out the Order of Merit ranked players Jose de Sousa and Nathan Aspinall.
Section 4 had some drama as both Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall withdrew from their games, with both catching Covid-19. This allowed Chris Dobey and Luke Humphries to advance to the fourth round. They were joined by Gary Anderson and Rob Cross, who knocked out Ian White and Daryl Gurney.
In section 1, James Wade beat Martijn Kleermaker, and Mervyn King ended the run of International Qualifier and heavy underdog Raymond Smith. Section 2 saw Peter Wright and Callan Rydz overcome Ryan Searle and Alan Soutar. In an all-British fourth round in section 4, Gary Anderson and Luke Humphries emerged victorious.
Quarterfinals Through to Finals
The two remaining players in each section played each other in a best of 9 sets game, where the winners could advance to the semi-finals. Gerwyn Price was knocked out by Michael Smith in a game that ended 4-5, James Wade beat Mervyn King 5-0, Peter Wright was given competition but managed to overcome Callan Rydz 5-4, and Gary Anderson beat Luke Humphries 5-2.
The two games of the semi-finals featured two Englishmen and two Scotsmen paired against each other. Michael Smith beat James Wade 6-3 and Peter Wright beat fellow Scot Gary Anderson 6-4.
The finals were played to a best of 13 sets, and it was highly exciting as both players starting winning sets back and forth. Peter Wright eventually won the game 7-5, though Smith had the better average score, 180 scores and highest checkout.
The World Darts Championship has great media coverage and as it falls in the holiday time, it is a widely watched tournament. Whilst betting on darts can enhance the experience, it is always important to bet with only as much money as you can afford to lose. Should you want some useful information on gambling and addiction, you can turn to organisations such as gambleaware.co.uk.