Vladyslav Omelchenko was beaten 3-0 by Luke Woodhouse during the opening round at Alexandra Palace; The 47-year-old was the first Ukrainian to compete in the World Darts Championship; Watch the tournament until January 3 live on Sky Sports Darts
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 18/12/22 5:07pm
Vladyslav Omelchenko made history by becoming the first Ukrainian to feature in the PDC World Championship and he celebrated by landing this spectacular 143 checkout in his 3-0 defeat to Luke Woodhouse.
Ukraine’s Vladyslav Omelchenko hopes his historic Cazoo World Darts Championship debut at the Alexandra Palace can inspire a new wave of players to take up the sport in his war-torn country.
Omelchenko came through a two-day qualifier in Kyiv in October to become the first Ukrainian in history to qualify for the World Darts Championship, with the 47-year-old having to prepare for the tournament in torrid conditions due to the ongoing war in his home nation.
The packed crowd gave Omelchenko a huge ovation as he made his way to the stage for his first-round match against Luke Woodhouse, with the Ukrainian producing an impressive showing despite falling to a straight-sets defeat.
Speaking via an interpreter, Omelchenko told the PDC: “This is definitely going to give a boost to darts in Ukraine. Darts was quite popular in Ukraine before the war but because of that, a lot of people have left and there has barely been any games.
“In the future, after we free Ukraine again, it’s going to give a huge boost for the darts and hopefully it can be even more popular than it was before that.”
Omelchenko posted a solid 80.51 average and won three legs against his English opponent, with a maximum and stunning 143 checkout among his highlights in the 3-0 loss.
“It was really hard for me to adapt at the beginning, because it’s the first time I’ve played internationally at such a huge stage and with such a huge audience,” Omelchenko added.
“It was really hard in the first set to get into the game but it got easier and I started to feel my game and feel better. I didn’t notice all the support of the audience but I’m very pleased by it.”
Omelchenko appearance means “more than darts”
Woodhouse will face world No 1 Gerywn Price in the next round after firing three ton-plus finishes on his way to beating Omelchenko, with the 34-year-old admitting his Ukrainian opponent gave him a tough test.
Luke Woodhouse hit the bullseye to take out 119 as he continued to dominate against Vladyslav Omelchenko.
“He [Omelchenko] is a bit of an unknown quantity so it was a little bit more difficult than usual,” Woodhouse said after his win. “For him to come over here after what he’s been through – I have heard reports that he’s been practising and he’s had no electricity.
“I pay homage to him – to come over here and play in this World Championship, it is absolutely brilliant. It was quite tough, but obviously not as tough as what his country are going through.”
Luke Woodhouse finished 108 to move two sets up versus Vladyslav Omelchenko in their first-round encounter.
Omelchenko received a warm reception as he exited the stage after his defeat, with Sky Sports’ Mark Webster – a two-time semi-finalist at the Alexandra Palace – hoping to see him back in the future.
“He [Omelchenko] gave a great account of himself,” Webster told Sky Sports. “There was the 180, the 143 and it was just great to have him part of the event.
“He will have enjoyed it and hopefully he can go away and we’ll see him back, because I think he has got a bit to offer. His fans were really supportive, which was good to see, he has enjoyed himself and credit to him.
The crowd really embraced him and gave him a great ovation with his walk-on. It was more than darts, that game. Luke [Woodhouse] dealt with the situation well, but it was great to see.”
Watch the 2023 PDC World Darts Championship – live on Sky Sports Darts – through to the final on January 3.