Michael van Gerwen began his quest for a fourth PDC World Championship title by routing Lewy Williams, with the Dutchman dropping just one leg en route to a commanding 3-0 win.
Van Gerwen had to withdraw from last year’s event after being struck down by Covid-19 but he is among the favorites to regain the Sid Waddell Trophy after claiming four major titles in 2022.
He sent a warning to his rivals at Alexandra Palace on Wednesday night, averaging 101.84 as he put his overmatched Welsh opponent to the sword to cruise into the third round.
The 2014, 2017 and 2019 champion will take on either Austria’s Mensur Suljovic or Belgium’s Mike De Decker next Wednesday.
“It wasn’t perfect but I think I played quite well,” Van Gerwen told Sky Sports. “I had to work hard for it, a performance like this doesn’t come from nothing.
“It gives me a lot of pleasure to be back on this stage, Ally Pally has a special place in my heart. To receive such an amazing reception from the crowd means a lot to me.
“I’m always trying to play darts at the highest level I possibly can. I know what I’m capable of.”
Dave Chisnall – who beat Van Gerwen en route to the semi-finals two years ago – earlier defeated fellow Englishman Andrew Gilding 3-1 in a match where both players recorded seven 180s.
Mervyn King, a quarter-finalist 12 months ago, withstood a fightback from Danny Baggish, who battled from 2-0 down to force a decider only to suffer a 3-2 defeat.
There were also wins for Stephen Bunting, Gabriel Clemens, Josh Rock and Darius Labanauskas.