William Hill World Championship Schedule

GARY ANDERSON will kick off the defence of his William Hill World Darts Championship title on Thursday December 17, with the tournament's opening night also featuring Peter Wright up against Keegan Brown at Alexandra Palace.

Darts' biggest tournament will be played from December 17-January 3 as 72 players do battle for £1.5 million in prize money and the prestigious Sid Waddell Trophy, live on the Sky Sports Darts channel.

The pre-Christmas action features the preliminary and first round matches, which begin on Thursday December 17 as reigning champion Gary Anderson kicks off the event against either Andy Boulton or Per Laursen.

A bumper opening night also sees world number four Peter Wright, the 2014 runner-up, taking on former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown and emerging prospects Jamie Lewis and Daryl Gurney do battle.

A double session of action on Friday December 18 will include two-time semi-finalist Mark Webster in the afternoon and 2014 World Champion Michael van Gerwen - the world number one - opening his challenge to win back the title.

Former finalist Kevin Painter and former Lakeside Champion Steve Beaton are in action in the afternoon session of Saturday December 19 before 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor, 2010 runner-up Simon Whitlock and Holland's Vincent van der Voort enter the fray in the evening.

Sunday's final pre-Christmas double session includes in-form Austrian Mensur Suljovic and 2012 finalist Andy Hamilton in the afternoon session and five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld's all-Dutch clash with Dirk van Duijvenbode in the evening session.

The action on Monday December 21 includes three of the top eight seeds, with Robert Thornton, James Wade and Michael Smith all in action as the preliminary round concludes.

The final two nights of first round games feature four matches per session, including former major finalists Terry Jenkins, Dave Chisnall and Wes Newton on Tuesday December 22 and two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis on Wednesday December 23.

Following the Christmas break, the second round kicks off on Boxing Day evening, potentially including reigning champion Anderson, and continues with double sessions on Sunday December 27 and Monday December 28.

Tuesday December 29 sees the second round conclude in the afternoon session as the third round commences, with the last 16 games being concluded on Wednesday December 30.

The tournament's final eight players then return on New Year's Day for the quarter-finals, with the semi-finals on Saturday January 2 and the final on Sunday January 3.

(P) Denotes Preliminary Round
Thursday December 17 (7pm-11pm)
Andy Boulton v Per Laursen (P)
Jamie Lewis v Daryl Gurney
Peter Wright v Keegan Brown
Gary Anderson v Boulton/Laursen

Friday December 18
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
Qiang Sun v Mick McGowan (P)
John Henderson v Darren Webster
Justin Pipe v Christian Kist
Mark Webster v Sun/McGowan

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Thanawat Gaweenuntawong v Rene Eidams (P)
Brendan Dolan v Kyle Anderson
Kim Huybrechts v David Pallett
Michael van Gerwen v Gaweenuntawong/Eidams

Saturday December 19
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
Kim Viljanen v Sven Groen (P)
Steve Beaton v Koha Kokiri
Ian White v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Kevin Painter v Viljanen/Groen

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Keita Ono v Alex Tagarao (P)
Simon Whitlock v Ricky Evans
Vincent van der Voort v Laurence Ryder
Phil Taylor v Ono/Tagarao

Sunday December 20
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
Michael Rasztovits v Rob Szabo (P)
Andy Hamilton v Joe Murnan
Mensur Suljovic v Jermaine Wattimena
Jamie Caven v Rasztovits/Szabo

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Aleksandr Oreshkin v Paul Lim (P)
Stephen Bunting v Jyhan Artut
Raymond van Barneveld v Dirk van Duijvenbode
Mervyn King v Oreshkin/Lim

Monday December 21 (7pm-11pm)
Warrick Scheffer v John Michael (P)
Robert Thornton v Alan Norris
Michael Smith v Jeffrey De Zwaan
James Wade v Scheffer/Michael

Tuesday December 22 (7pm-11pm)
Dean Winstanley v Ronny Huybrechts
Wes Newton v Cristo Reyes
Dave Chisnall v Rowby-John Rodriguez
Terry Jenkins v Darin Young

Wednesday December 23 (7pm-11pm)
Andrew Gilding v Gerwyn Price
Benito van de Pas v Max Hopp
Adrian Lewis v Jan Dekker
Jelle Klaasen v Joe Cullen

Saturday December 26 (6pm-10pm)
Whitlock/Evans v Caven/Rasztovits/Szabo
Chisnall/Rodriguez v Pipe/Kist
G Anderson/Boulton/Laursen v J Lewis/Gurney

Sunday December 27
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
Smith/De Zwaan v Beaton/Kokiri
White/Van den Bergh v van de Pas/Hopp
Van der Voort/Ryder v Dolan/K Anderson

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
van Barneveld/van Duijvenbode v Bunting/Artut
Wade/Scheffer/Michael v Newton/Reyes
van Gerwen/Gaweenuntawong/Eidams v Henderson/D Webster

Monday December 28
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
Thornton/Norris v Hamilton/Murnan
Jenkins/Young v M Webster/Sun/McGowan
K Huybrechts/Pallett v Suljovic/Wattimena

Evening Session (7.30pm-11.30pm)
A Lewis/Dekker v Gilding/Price
Wright/Brown v Winstanley/R Huybrechts
Taylor/Ono/Tagarao v Painter/Viljanen/Groen

Tuesday December 29
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
King/Oreshkin/Lim v Klaasen/Cullen
Smith/De Zwaan/Beaton/Kokiri v White/Van den Bergh/van de Pas/Hopp
Wade/Scheffer/Michael/Newton/Reyes v Whitlock/Evans/Caven/Rasztovits/Szabo

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
A Lewis/Dekker/Gilding/Price v K Huybrechts/Pallett/Suljovic/Wattimena
G Anderson/Boulton/Laursen/J Lewis/Gurney v van der Voort/Ryder/Dolan/K Anderson
van Gerwen/Gaweenuntawong/Eidams/Henderson/D Webster v van Barneveld/van Duijvenbode/Bunting/Artut

Wednesday December 30 (7pm-11pm)
Wright/Brown/Winstanley/R Huybrechts v Chisnall/Rodriguez/Pipe/Kist
Thornton/Norris/Hamilton/Murnan v Jenkins/Young/M Webster/Sun/McGowan
Taylor/Ono/Taragao/Painter/Viljanen/Groen v King/Oreshkin/Klaasen/Cullen

Friday January 1
Afternoon Session (1pm-4.30pm)

Evening Session (7.30pm-11pm)

Saturday January 2 (8pm-11.30pm)

Sunday January 3 (7pm-10pm)