DARTS: Mighty Mike the incentive for Ben Ward

Dorset Echo: ON THE OCHE: World number two Michael van Gerwen ON THE OCHE: World number two Michael van Gerwen

A MEETING with Dutch world number two Michael van Gerwen is the prize on offer to Ben Ward if he wins his preliminary round match at the PDC World Championship.

Dorchester’s Ward needs to see off Austria’s Zoran Lerchbacher to set up a first-round clash with this year’s Premier League and Players Championship winner, who was runner-up at the worlds last time out.

Ward is expected to find out today the date of his showdown against Lerchbacher with the winner likely to face 24-year-old van Gerwen on the same day.

And although there is a massive reward up for grabs, world championship debutant Ward is not taking his eye off the Austrian.

“It’s a great draw and a massive incentive to win my first game,” he said.

“But I have to play that preliminary round match and I cannot lose sight of that. My focus is totally on the prelims.”

Dutchman van Gerwen, also known as ‘Mighty Mike’, emerged on the world stage as a teenager in the DBO ranks before initially struggling for consistency after switching to the PDC.

But over the last two years he has established himself as one of the top darts players on the planet with his heavy scoring and high checkouts.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s first-round draw threw up some interesting encounters including the all-Belgian encounter between brothers Ronny and Kim Huybrechts.

And 16-time world champion Phil Taylor takes on either Rob Szabo of New Zealand or qualifier Ian Moss.

The Labrokes-sponsored event starts at Alexandra Palace on December 13.

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