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World Darts Championship: Day Three preview - Josh Rock starts his campaign

Josh Rock, one of darts' rising stars, gets his chance to shine on the biggest stage in the sport when he makes his Alexandra Palace debut on day three of the World Darts Championship.

The much-hyped and well-fancied Northern Irish youngster, 16/1 to Win Outright at the first attempt, kicks off his campaign against seasoned Spaniard Jose Justicia.

Former women's world champion Lisa Ashton and former BDO world champ Richie Burnett toe the oche for the first time with seeds Daryl Gurney and Dimitri van den Bergh also in action on a sparkling Saturday card.

Is Rocky ready to rumble at the Palace?

What: World Darts Championship
Where: Alexandra Palace, London
When: 15th December 2022 - 3rd January 2023
How to watch: Sky Sports
Odds: Michael van Gerwen 5/2, Gerwyn Price 6/1, Michael Smith 7/1, Peter Wright 10/1, Luke Humphries 14/1, Josh Rock 16/1, Jonny Clayton 16/1

No one player has been talked up quite as much as Rock during the countdown to the PDC World Darts Championship and now comes showtime for the Northern Irishman.

The classy 21-year-old takes on Jose Justicia, a Spanish World Cup player, in round one with Rock rated an eye-watering 1/12 shot.

Justicia is no mug. On his one previous visit to the Palace he thrashed Arron Monk 3-0 before departing lucklessly 3-2 against Stephen Bunting, the Englishman winning 6-4 in the last.

But the odds say he has no chance against Rock, who has impressed on the Development Tour this year - winning five times - and also in his first year on the main tour, reaching two finals, winning one.

He was also crowned world youth champ and then chucked in a nine-darter and ton-plus average during a gripping defeat at the hands of Michael van Gerwen in the Grand Slam.

So he's got the game - the question is, has he the temperament on his first appearance on the biggest stage of them all? We shall soon find out.

Champ Burnett back for one more crack

Twenty-eight years since being crowned BDO World Champion and nine years since he last played at Alexandra Palace, Richie Burnett is back.

He may have long since lost the title of best Welsh darter to first Mark Webster and then Gerwyn Price, but for pure nickname pedantry alone it's entirely right that the Prince of Wales should be at the Palace.

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The 55-year-old from the Rhondda, twice a Lakeside runner-up as well, is 8/11 against Adam Gawlas, a Czech youngster who is on the up.

Gawlas has twice made the last 16 of Pro Tour events, beat both Damon Heta and Ryan Searle to reach the quarter-finals of the Czech Open, and also took out some decent pros in qualifying for this year's Grand Slam.

Lancashire Rose yet to bloom on Ally Pally stage

Lisa Ashton, not so long ago the undisputed star of the women's game and still a player to be respected, has yet to blossom at the Palace.

The four-time women's world champ has had three tries at the PDC World Championship and has fallen at the first hurdle each time, her best effort coming two years ago when she was pipped 3-2 by Adam Hunt.

She's got her work cut out against Hungarian Darts Trophy quarter-finalist Ryan Meikle, who is back at the Palace for the first time since being blown off the stage with a sub-80 average by Peter Wright last year.

The Lancashire Rose throws too many loose darts, hence the 10/3 quote on her winning the match. But if she can put Meikle under pressure early on, he will become more and more uncomfortable and his form isn't great.

The Beard no longer to be feared

Once upon a time Simon Whitlock was a big noise at Ally Pally, where he was the runner-up to Phil Taylor in 2010.

The Aussie, the Beard to be Feared, hasn't got past round three, however, since 2014 though he'll still feel he has the game to beat Christian Perez and go on a run.

Whitlock definitely could have had a worse draw - if the seedings are right he'd face Jose de Sousa in round two and Ryan Searle in round three, neither of whom are at the height of their powers.

First up, of course, he has to land odds of 1/10 against Perez, this year's Asian champion and back in North London for the first time in eight years.

The seeds entering the fray on day three are 24th-ranked Daryl Gurney, who plays either Alan Soutar or Mal Cuming, and Dimitri van den Bergh, the No.15 seed, who takes on Rowby-John Rodriguez or Lourence Ilagan.

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