Merseyside’s Michael Smith, Stephen Bunting and Dave Chisnall are all gearing up for the biggest darts tournament of the  year – the World Championships.

This year they will be joined by a fourth player from Liverpool – young Lewy Williams who will be competing in his “Ally Pally” championship.

Fans are welcomed back for darts’ most prestigious event after last year’s was played behind closed doors due to Covid.

And the first and second rounds get underway in a week’s time, with all ties played between December 15t23.

Smith, the 2018/19 runner up, will be in second round action as he aims to go one better than 2019 and get his hands on the Sid Waddell Trophy.

He faces either Ron Meulenkamp or Lisa Ashton.

The 9th seed comes into the event  on the back of a semi final run at the Grand Slam of darts, including a win against Michael Van Gerwen.

Bunting and Chisnall also have high hopes coming into this tournament.

Despite a poor run of form recently for ‘the Bullet’ he will look to surprise people and break into the latter rounds of the tournament.

Bunting is set to play the winner of Ross Smith and Jeff Smith.

Dave ‘Chizzy’ Chisnall who missed out on the Grand Slam of Darts, faced disappointment in the 2021 Players Championship finals.

He suffered a first round loss to Ritchie Edhouse.

He comes into this tournament with nothing to lose and goes up against Darius Labanauskas or Charles Losper.

Lewy Williams faces Toyokazu Shibata in first round action.

He said previously: “It’s been a dream start to the tour this year.

“Big wins in my first pro tour event against Dimitri Van Den Bergh, Kim Huybrechts and Michael Van Gerwen.”

In other ties, world number one Gerwyn Price will look to begin his world title defence on the opening night as he faces the winner of Ritchie Edhouse v Lihao Wen.

Michael Van Gerwen begins his campaign to become a fourth time world champion on Saturday December 18 against Chas Barstow or John Norman JNR.

The world number two Peter Wright will begin his quest for a second title in three years on December 17 where he could be potentially facing 16-year-old Fabian Schmutzler.

And “Queen of the Palace” Fallon Sherrock will look to smash the glass ceiling down again.

Sherrock became the first female to win at the PDC’s World Championship two years ago.

She has a first round fixture against ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ Steve Beaton.

(featured pic by Sven Mandel under CC licence)