THE 2023 Bahrain Darts Masters begins on Thursday, as World Champion Michael Smith makes his first competitive appearance since lifting The Sid Waddell Trophy last week.

The PDC's World Series of Darts visits Bahrain for the first time this week, with the first of five international events this year taking place in the Dome at the Bahrain International Circuit on January 12-13.

Thursday's first round will pit eight PDC stars against eight Asian representatives, which includes two local qualifiers from Bahrain who are making their televised debuts.

World number one Smith will headline Thursday’s first round, fresh from his history-making exploits at Alexandra Palace, which saw him defeat Michael van Gerwen 7-4 to claim his first World Championship crown.

The St Helens star also produced a sensational nine-dart finish en route to glory, and he returns to action against Manama-based mechanic Abdulnasser Yusuf in round one.

"I can't wait for John McDonald to announce me on stage as the World Champion," revealed Smith, the top seed in Bahrain.

"I've always wanted to be World Champion. It was my childhood dream, but now it's about motivating myself to stay as world number one and win more major trophies.

"I have barely thrown a dart since the double eight went in [at Ally Pally], so I might be a bit rusty, but after a couple of hours on the board, it will soon come back.

"I'm looking forward to it. There's only one thing on my mind, and that is to win."

Elsewhere, reigning World Series of Darts Finals champion Gerwyn Price will take on legendary Singapore icon Paul Lim in one of Thursday’s stand-out ties, as Lim makes his big stage return at the age of 68.

World number two Peter Wright kicks off his campaign against World Championship qualifier Toru Suzuki, a PDC Asian Championship semi-finalist in September.

This week’s landmark event will also see Luke Humphries make his World Series of Darts debut, with the world number five up against Hong Kong’s World Cup star Man Lok Leung in his opener.

Following Thursday's first round action, the Bahrain Darts Masters will conclude on Friday with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final taking place in one blockbuster session.

The Bahrain Darts Masters is being broadcast live from (1600 GMT) via ITV4 in the UK, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).

2023 Bahrain Darts Masters Schedule of Play Thursday January 12 (1600 GMT).

First Round.

Dimitri Van den Bergh v Alain Abiabi.

Rob Cross v Nitin Kumar.

Luke Humphries v Man Lok Leung.

Gerwyn Price v Paul Lim.

Peter Wright v Toru Suzuki.

Michael Smith v Abdulnasser Yusuf.

Raymond van Barneveld v Yuki Yamada.

Jonny Clayton v Basem Mahmood.