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Jim Williams Finds All The Wright Moves . . . Even Though He Admits To Below Par Display

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By Paul Jones

Jim Williams has earned rich praise from Peter Wright after the Welsh star dumped the two-time former world champion out of the World Darts Championship.

Williams, from Presteigne, defied his lowly ranking of world No.47 to beat “Snakebite” in a convincing 3-0 second round victory at Alexandra Palace.

Williams admitted: “It’s a funny feeling when you see a great player like Peter struggling with his game.

“You want to kill him off but it’s someone you like watching and don’t really want to lose.

“I didn’t think I played that well and in both my games here so far, my focus has been terrible. There’s an opportunity now for me – and a lot of other guys – but everyone plays so well now that it’s no surprise to see a guy ranked 128th beat a guy ranked No.2.

“The standard at the moment is fantastic.”

Wright, who won the world championship in 2020 and 2022 and entered the event as fourth seed, struggled throughout and fell to a straight-sets second-round defeat against Williams.

The green hair, Grinch trousers and dancing with cheerleader pom-poms were the only festive cheer offered by Wright, who only managed a 83.87 average and made just four of 18 doubles during a disappointing display.

Wright was broken in the opening leg by Williams, who snatched the first set with a sensational 124 checkout on the bullseye in a final-leg decider, with the Scot then missing seven set darts when 2-1 up in the second.

Williams sealed the second set with a 13-darter and broke Wright a 70-finish in the opening leg of the third, before rattling off the next two legs to complete an emphatic victory and book a third-round meeting with either Raymond van Barneveld or Radek Szaganski.

“To be honest I don’t know what happened,” Wright admitted.

“Obviously I was nowhere near good enough to compete against Jim Williams, who is a fantastic player. I haven’t got a clue, practice has been going well but I don’t know what happened.

“Jim was the better player on the day. Maybe it would have been a different game if I’d hit one of the doubles to win the second set but I didn’t feel confident of actually getting it to be honest; it was ‘hopefully I hit it’ rather than ‘this one’s going in’. I just played terribly tonight and that’s it.”

As well as for Williams, there was a night to remember 16-year-old Luke Littler, who enjoyed a debut to cherish.

Littler lived up to the pre-match hype with a stunning straight-sets victory over Christian Kist, firing the best average of the tournament so far and dropping just two legs as he raced into the second round.

The teenager needed just 41 darts to breeze through the opening set in straight legs and sealed the second with an impressive 11-dart leg, before posting a 106-checkout in the third on his way to wrapping up victory.

“I can’t believe how quickly I settled into the game,” said Littler, who registered seven 180s in his 11 legs and will play Andrew Gilding in the second round on Thursday. “When I was walking on I felt a bit nervous but as soon as I found the rhythm, I was in.

“[Tonight has] got to be at the top. I’ve been playing since I was 18-months-old, obviously looking up to Phil Taylor. I know he’s watching – that’s for you, Phil! Absolutely over the moon.”

Richard Veenstra also marked his World Championship debut with a victory, seeing off Ben Robb in straight sets to book a meeting with Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts in the next round.

The first match of the evening session saw Ryan Joyce battle back from a set down to claim an impressive 3-1 victory against Alex Spellman, posting a 100.32 average and winning eight of his last nine legs to set up a second-round meeting with Stephen Bunting.

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