Wright begins title defence with opening night win over West
Reigning champion Peter Wright got his campaign off to a winning start against Steve West as the 2020/21 William Hill World Darts Championship began at London's Alexandra Palace on Tuesday.
Taking to the famous stage for the first time since lifting the Sid Waddell Trophy almost a year ago, Wright donned an eye-catching 'Grinch-inspired' outfit for the occasion as a small number of fans welcomed the start of darts' showpiece event.
Wright got his campaign off to a perfect start, winning the opening two sets without losing a leg.
However, West, who became the first winner of the tournament earlier in the evening with a 3-0 win over Indian Qualifier Amit Gilitwala, won the third set 3-1 despite a 144 checkout from Wright.
Wright began set four with a 101 checkout, and after West missed two darts at double to go 2-1 ahead, Wright landed a 71 checkout before sealing victory on double ten.
"Obviously, there was a bit of pressure on me tonight," Wright admitted.
"Steve didn't play his game. It's a big ask to play well for two games in one night.
"I'm just happy to be safely through, but I know I wasn't at my best tonight.
"My last three darts at double ten were near enough exactly the same as the ones I threw to win it last year, which was strange.
"I'm happy with the darts. Now I'm going to use my days off to rest up and come back refreshed for the rest of the tournament."
The opening night of the 500,000 Pound tournament saw three round one matches take place prior to Wright's entrance, as an emotional Diogo Portela broke down in tears after whitewashing Steve Beaton 3-0.
Taking to the Alexandra Palace stage for a fourth successive year, Portela spoilt the party for Beaton, who was playing in his 30th consecutive World Championship.
Portela dropped just three legs as he averaged just under 90 against a below-par Beaton and the Brazilian will return to the stage on Wednesday to take on Premier League champion Glen Durrant.
"Tonight will be in my heart forever. It was a fantastic win and it means everything to me," said Portela.
"I've been through so much this year in my personal life. It left me thinking about quitting darts.
"This was a win for me to prove I can compete with the best players; Steve has been a class player for many years.
"I was having a nightmare in practice so I don't know where this performance came from, but this is just the start for me."
Jeff Smith fought off an attempted comeback from Keane Barry to win their first round clash 3-1.
One of the most highly-anticipated round one ties got off to a slow start, with both players averaging around 80 after the opening two sets, both of which were won by Smith after Barry missing a shot at double 19 for a 158 checkout in the set two decider.
Irish teenage sensation Barry, competing in his second World Championship in as many years, warmed to his task and won the set three decider to halve the sets deficit.
He took a 2-1 lead in the fourth set, but Smith broke throw with an 82 checkout before hitting a crucial 177 on his way to wrapping up the last leg of the contest to set up a second round meeting with Chris Dobey on Wednesday.
"I'm happy with that win tonight. When I got drawn against Keane I knew it would be a tough match and he put me under real pressure there," said Smith.
"It's been a fantastic year for me on the board, even with all the restrictions. Kudos to the PDC for putting the tournament on at all.
"I'm looking forward to playing Chris [Dobey], we've had a couple of good battles and I'm sure we will have another one tomorrow."
The William Hill World Darts Championship continues on Wednesday with two sessions of first and second round action, with Durrant's meeting with Portela among the pick of the ties.
Statistics - First Round
Statistics - Second Round