Ireland’s Willie O’Connor bowed out of the 2018 World Darts Championship in the first round after suffering a 3-1 defeat to Steve Beaton at the Alexandra Palace in London.

Making his first appearance at the Championship, O’Connor made a nervy start and while he bagged the first maximum of the match, he missed far too many doubles, handing the opening set to the veteran Beaton.

The trend of missing doubles continued for O’Connor as he quickly lost the second set but he did manage to steady things in the third.

O’Connor took the first leg of the third set with his fourth 180 of the match and then broke Beaton before quickly taking the third leg with a double 16 to drag himself back into the match.

That was as good as it was to get for the Irishman, however, and while he did manage to break back against Beaton after going 2-0 down in the final set, he wasn’t able to prevent the ‘Bronzed Adonis’ from wrapping things up with a double 20 for a 52 finish to seal his progress into the second round.

Michael Van Gerwen started the defence of his title with a comfortable victory over Christian Kist.

Despite all the talk surrounding Phil Taylor's quest for a 17th world title before retirement, Van Gerwen still remains the man to beat over the next fortnight.

And the world number one, who beat Gary Anderson in last year's final, had no problems sweeping aside fellow Dutchman Kist 3-1 on the opening night.

The signs were ominous from the off, Van Gerwen starting proceedings with a 180 and completing the first set with a stunning 141 checkout.

Kist got on the board in the fifth leg and, although Van Gerwen sealed the second set, the 31-year-old upped his game and halved the deficit.

But Van Gerwen whitewashed Kist in the final set, finishing the match with four 180s and an average of 106 to lay down an early marker to his rivals.

Van Gerwen will take on James Wilson in the second round.

Wilson, who has changed his nickname from 'Jammy Dodger' to 'Lethal Biscuit', came from behind to see off Krzysztof Ratajski 3-1.

Gerwyn Price eased past Ted Evetts in the final game of the night, completing a 3-0 whitewash.