Adrian Lewis kept his hopes of defending his Auckland Darts Masters title alive with a thrilling deciding-leg victory over Phil Taylor on Saturday evening at the Trusts Arena, in one of the greatest World Series clashes ever staged.
Jackpot will be joined in the last four by world champion Gary Anderson, five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, and eight-time major winner James Wade, who produced a fine performance to dump out world number one Michael van Gerwen.
However, Lewis’ victory over Taylor was without doubt the highlight of the evening. Taylor averaged 107.57, registered 9 maximums and hit 56% on the doubles, but this still wasn’t enough for the 16-time world champion to progress, as Lewis prevailed in a deciding-leg in Auckland against Taylor, for the second successive year.
The tone was set in the very first leg. Taylor kicked off with six perfect darts and left D8 after just 9 darts, but incredibly he wasn’t afforded a shot as Lewis hit D12 to complete a majestic 81 finish and an 11-dart opening salvo.
Lewis missed the bullseye for a 126 to double his lead in leg two, and this near miss was punished as Taylor restored parity with a 122 outshot on the bull. The maximum-fest continued as the pair traded 180’s, but Lewis converted D8 with his last-dart at double for a vital hold.
The Stoke stars both hit maximums in leg four, but Taylor also fired in scores of 140 and 165, before nailing D8 for a spectacular 10-dart finish. Lewis was unperturbed however, following another maximum by hitting tops, before establishing a two-leg cushion thanks to a crucial 103 checkout.
Jackpot missed tops for a 120 finish, but he returned to hit D10 to secure his third consecutive leg. Taylor hit another maximum and landed D8 to halt Lewis’ momentum, but the two-time world champion went 6-3 up at the interval, hitting D6 to complete a crucial 94 checkout, with Taylor poised on tops to break the throw.
The next three legs all went with throw as Taylor reduced the arrears to 7-5, but ‘The Power’ moved to within one leg after converting 102 to complete a 12-dart break. The pair both registered maximums in the following leg, but Taylor wired D16 for a 106 finish to level up proceedings at 7-7.
This proved to be a very expensive miss, as Lewis hit the bullseye to seal a stunning 124 checkout, and the defending champion stormed into a 9-6 advantage by virtue of hitting tops. Taylor refused to relent however. He fired in his eighth 180 to complete a 13-darter to stay afloat.
Taylor reduced the deficit to 9-8 with his second straight leg, before the 55-year-old forced a dramatic deciding leg having converted a 130 finish on D8. Lewis had the advantage of throw and made it count. Taylor’s scoring-power dwindled, and Lewis posted tops with his last dart in hand to prevail in an absolute classic!
James Wade stole the headlines with a magnificent 10-6 victory against world number one Michael van Gerwen. Wade was in inspired form, averaging 107.45, hitting six maximums and converting 63% of his double attempts. MvG also averaged 107 and hit an incredible ten maximums, but his indifferent doubling proved costly.
The pair traded maximums in the opening leg, but Wade broke throw immediately after Van Gerwen missed a dart for a 116 finish. Van Gerwen registered his second maximum in the following leg, but Wade doubled his lead with a 130 checkout on the bullseye.
Van Gerwen opened his account with a clinical 110 checkout in the third leg, but ‘The Machine’ defied MvG’s third maximum to convert an 84 outshot to re-establish his two-leg cushion. The left-hander was in inspired form and secured a double-break with a classy 78 finish on tops.
However, ‘The Green Machine’ responded tremendously and broke back with a brilliant 10-dart leg, which included a bounce-out. Wade moved 5-2 ahead after following up a brilliant visit of 168 with tops, but Van Gerwen secured the fourth successive break of throw with yet another spectacular 10-darter.
The high-quality finishing continued in the ninth leg, as Van Gerwen reduced the arrears to 5-4 with a brilliant 128 finish for a 12-darter. MvG was determined to restore parity, but he wasn’t afforded an opportunity as Wade fired in a maximum and took out 98 to cap off a fantastic 11-darter.
Van Gerwen fired straight back however, landing two 180’s and hitting D18 to reduce the deficit to the solitary leg. Both players hit maximums in the twelfth leg, but Wade held throw with a fine 11-dart leg, before moving three legs clear by virtue of a crucial 81 checkout.
The eight-time major winner moved to within a leg of victory by pinning D7 for his third-leg in succession, but Van Gerwen converted D16 to keep his hopes alive. ‘Mighty-Mike’ appeared poised to reduce the arrears to 9-7, but the 27-year-old Dutchman squandered five darts at double and Wade posted his favourite D10 to secure his semi-final spot.
World champion Gary Anderson continued his impressive World Series form, prevailing 10-6 in all-Scottish clash against Peter Wright. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was in fine fettle, averaging 103.93 and hitting five maximums en route to a relatively comfortable victory.
Anderson dominated the scoring stakes in the opening three legs, but crucial missed doubles from the Dubai Darts Masters champion enabled Wright to establish a 2-1 lead. Nevertheless, Ando delivered an instant riposte, landing the bullseye for a classy 122 finish.
Wright finished 76 to move back in-front, but Anderson kicked off the leg with back-to-back maximums, before levelling up proceedings on D10. This kick-started a huge momentum shift, as Anderson won five straight legs to establish a commanding 7-3 lead.
The world champ broke throw on D20 and extended his lead by following up another maximum by pinning D10. Wright registered a crucial maximum to take control of the ninth leg, but three missed darts at tops enabled Anderson to convert 72 in two-darts for a 6-3 lead at the break.
Anderson finished 92 on the bullseye to move four legs clear, but Wright fought back tremendously, winning three successive legs after improving his scoring power immeasurably. Nevertheless, Ando showed his class in the following leg, halting Snakebite’s surge with a brilliant 12-darter and 121 checkout.
Anderson moved to the brink of victory with a clinical 96 checkout after Wright had failed to register a dart at double for the same finish. Snakebite continued to battle but his efforts were in vain, as the number one seed pinned D20 for a 13-darter, sealing a spot in his first ever Auckland semi-final.
Raymond van Barneveld produced a superb display to defeat Dave Chisnall 10-5 in Saturday’s first quarter-final. The Dutchman hit four maximums and averaged over 101 to set up a last-four showdown against world champion Gary Anderson.
Van Barneveld made the perfect start, breaking Chisnall’s throw in the opening leg with a 14-darter. The pair traded maximums in the second leg, but Barney pinned his favourite D18 to double his lead.
Chisnall opened his account on tops after Van Barneveld missed D7 for a 12-dart leg, but the Dutchman regained his two-leg cushion with a sublime 76 finish for an 11-dart leg. Barney had opened up the leg with successive 180’s, but the 9-darter wasn’t forthcoming.
Chisnall held throw with a clinical 96 checkout, but Raymond responded by pinning D4 with his final dart, after Chizzy had fired in another maximum. The next two legs were shared, before Chisnall reduced the arrears to 5-4 at the first interval with a clinical 74 outshot, culminating on D16.
Van Barneveld continued his fine form after the break, moving 6-4 ahead on D8, having missed the bull for a maximum 170 checkout in the preceding visit. The five-time world champion then secured the second break of throw in this contest, hitting D12 for a 13-darter, and daylight.
The 49-year-old Den Haag ace extended his advantage to four legs with a two-dart 76 kill, before moving to within a leg of victory after profligate finishing from his St Helen’s opponent. Chisnall missed darts at D20, D10 and D5 for a hold of throw, and Van Barneveld hit D4 to complete a 64 checkout.
‘The Yellow Peril’ showed impressive character to break back; following up three successive 140’s with an 81 checkout for a 12-darter, however his resistance was broken moments later. Van Barneveld followed up his fourth maximum with a fine 96 checkout culminating on D8, to cap off an extremely polished performance.
Auckland Darts Masters, presented by TAB and Burger King
Saturday June 18
Dave Chisnall 5-10 Raymond van Barneveld
Gary Anderson 10-6 Peter Wright
Phil Taylor 9-10 Adrian Lewis
Michael van Gerwen 6-10 James Wade
Best of 19 legs
Sunday June 19 (7pm)
Gary Anderson v Raymond van Barneveld
James Wade v Adrian Lewis
Best of 21 legs
Anderson/van Barneveld v Wade/Lewis
Best of 21 legs