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Huntly darts player John Henderson begins his PDC William Hill World Darts Championship quest at an empty Alexandra Palace

By Craig Christie

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TONIGHT sees John Henderson take on Finland's Marko Kantele in a first round clash behind closed doors at the Ally Pally.

Huntly darts player John Henderson. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Huntly darts player John Henderson. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

The Huntly player is making his ninth appearance at the BDO worlds, where he has reached the third round in his last three attempts.

A difficult year hampered by the coronavirus pandemic saw big 'Hendo' play for Scotland at the World Cup but struggle to find any true form.

He was close to missing out on the world championships until a late rally in the players championships events saw him make it through.

Currently ranked 32 in the PDC rankings, 'The Highlander' starts as favourite to defeat Kantele, who is ranked 76 and has never won at the worlds before.

The pair met at the 2017 world championships with Henderson dropping just three legs on the way to a whitewash victory.

But it will be an eerie atmosphere in London tonight, with crowds banned following government restrictions being imposed after the first round started.

Small crowds were permitted for the opening day's action on Tuesday, before London was placed in tier 3 of restrictions at midnight that day.

Henderson first qualified for the worlds in 2012, losing to former champion John Part.

He beat seventh seed Dave Chisnall in 2014 before losing to Mark Webster.

The last three years have seen Henderson lose in the third round to highly ranked players.

Rob Cross won the title after beating Hendo in 2018, while defeats to Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price, who is favourite to win this year, followed on from that.

Henderson has won a total of £121,000 from his eight previous efforts at the Ally Pally.

The pre-Christmas period of this year's championship will see the first and second rounds played across nine days from December 15-23.

Following a three-day Christmas break, the third and fourth rounds will be held from December 27-30, with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final being held from January 1-3.

In a change from previous World Championship rules, to reduce the possibility of sessions over-running, there will be no tie-break in any match. Should any deciding set reach two-all, the fifth leg would be the final leg.

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