MICHAEL Smith is out of the William Hill World Darts Championship.

Last year's finalist crashed out in Round Two as the latest seed to fall at the first hurdle!

Luke Woodhouse averaged almost 98 as he defeated Bully Boy 3-1 at Alexandra Palace.

Smith never recovered from a slow start against emerging talent Woodhouse, who followed up Saturday's victory over Paul Lim with another impressive performance to defeat the number four seed.

"I managed to regain my composure and get the job done," said Woodhouse, who missed six darts to win the match in straight sets.

"I was in a bit of a haze after missing the chance to win the third set but I kept calm and my confidence got me through.

"I've been working hard and it is showing and I really feel at home on the big stage now." 

Woodhouse won the first two sets 3-1 before coming back from two legs behind in the third, only to squander half-a-dozen match darts.

Smith missed two darts to take the match to a deciding set and Woodhouse denied him that chance when he cleaned up 80 to seal victory.

Smith came into the event at the end of his best year so far, which started with his appearance in the last World Championship final against Michael Van Gerwen last January.

The former St Cuthberts High School student went on to reach at least the quarter final stage of five more major televised events in 2019.

Smith, 29, was the first to carry the flag for St Helens in the 27th William Hill World Darts Championship.

Fellow St Helens darters Dave Chisnall and Stephen Bunting will join the action later this week.

There'd already been some upsets before Smith's exit.

Raymond van Barneveld's farewell ended in heartbreak with a shock first round exit, while Rob Cross also crashed out at Alexandra Palace on Saturday.

Van Barneveld's first round meeting with American Darin Young proved to be the legendary Dutch star's final professional match as he suffered a 3-1 loss in a nightmare end to his glittering career.

The five-time World Champion had received a hero's reception from the crowd as he made his way on to the sport's most famous stage but the night was to end with a cruel defeat.

"The demons won again - I never felt comfortable in the whole match," admitted van Barneveld, who announced his retirement more than 12 months ago.

"Darin played really well but I could not find anything and I am really disappointed. 

"I had practised well and done everything I could to prepare but I didn't play anything like that on stage. I will never forget or forgive myself for this performance - it has been a nightmare end to a nightmare year."

Young took the first set 3-1 to pile the pressure on Van Barneveld, who battled back by taking the second set 3-0 but lost the crucial fifth leg in set three to leave himself facing defeat.

The American ace landed another blow with a 160 checkout on the way to taking the first two legs in the fourth set before Van Barneveld forced a decider - only to miss two darts to take the tie to fifth set, which his opponent punished to inflict a devastating loss. 

World number two Cross was also left stunned, losing his opener in straight sets to Kim Huybrechts - who moved into round three, having seen off Geert Nentjes on Friday.

Huybrechts produced checkouts of 116 and 152 in a dominant display over the 2018 World Champion, who looked out-of-sorts throughout the encounter.

"I feel stunned - I can't really believe it," admitted the Belgian ace. 

"Rob Cross did not turn up at all and I know that but I took my chances and I won. I'm very pleased to win.

"I was strong in my mind against one of the best players in the world and I'm proud of how I fought for that victory."

Defending champion Van Gerwen survived a scare from Dutch rival Jelle Klaasen as he opened his title defence on Friday.

The opening day of darts' biggest event saw Van Gerwen recover from a set down to prevent an upset win for Klaasen, who defeated Northern Ireland's Kevin Burness in the first game of the tournament.

Van Gerwen landed match-changing finishes of 170 and 130 on his way to victory, with the world number one now set to enjoy a nine-day break from the festive feast of darts.

"I think I played a poor game, it wasn't there tonight," admitted a frustrated Van Gerwen.

"I was trying really hard, probably too hard but I'm through and that's all that matters.

"I've been working really hard to play well in this tournament so for me to perform like this is hard for me to take.

"But even when you're not playing well you have to hit the big shots at the right time and I managed to do that tonight."

The opening set saw Van Gerwen surrender a two-leg lead, as Klaasen took out 116 to take a surprise lead.

Klaasen then broke throw in the next set and was throwing to double his lead in sets, only for Van Gerwen to land a 170 checkout to turn the match on its head.

The third set saw Van Gerwen land a 130 checkout with Klaasen sat on a finish, which set the three-time World Champion up to win four of the last five legs.