MICHAEL Smith made a confident start to life as World Champion as the Bahrain Darts Masters began on Thursday.

The year's first World Series of Darts event saw eight top PDC stars, including Smith, facing eight Asian representatives at the Bahrain International Circuit in the first of two days of action as they compete to lift the specially-designed Date Palm trophy and claim a £20,000 top prize.

The first round saw all eight PDC stars progress to Friday's final stages, although the growing strength of the sport in Asia was shown in the challenge of several stars to push their big-name opponents all the way.

New World Champion Smith averaged over 98 and landed a ten-dart finish in his superb 6-1 win over Bahrain qualifier Abdulnasser Yusuf.

Smith opened the game with a bullseye finish and took out 131 with two double tops as he opened up a five-leg lead before wrapping up victory.

"I had goosebumps on my walk-on and I enjoyed it," said Smith. "It felt different hearing John McDonald introducing me as World Champion and world number one.

"I was a bit nervous up there but I managed to find my feet. Dimitri will be up for it tomorrow but I just want to keep winning."

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

The Bahrain Darts Masters will be broadcast live from 1900 local time (1600 GMT) via ITV4 in the UK, through the PDC's worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).

2023 Bahrain Darts Masters.

Friday January 13 (1900 local time, 1600 GMT).

Quarter-Finals: Michael Smith v Dimitri Van den Bergh, Luke Humphries v Raymond van Barneveld, Peter Wright v Rob Cross, Gerwyn Price v Jonny Clayton.