European Darts Grand Prix: Day One Report!

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Van Barneveld returned to European Tour action with a bang! (Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Raymond van Barneveld made a winning return to the European Tour after producing the performance of the night, as Max Hopp, Brendan Dolan and James Wilson all tasted victory on Friday at the Glaspalast Arena in Sindelfingen.

Van Barneveld marked his return to European Tour action with a high-quality win over debutant Scott Dale, who put in an impressive performance himself. Van Barneveld averaged 99.73 and landed four maximums, to record a fine 6-3 win in his first European Tour appearance since last October.

Barney and Dale both opened their account with 12 darters, before the Dutchman took out 74 in 15-darts to move 2-1 ahead.The 49-year-old then left himself on 36 after just 9 darts as he attempted to break, but he spurned darts at D18 and D9, as Dale levelled up on D6.

The youngster had an opportunity to break the Dutchman in the fifth leg. He missed the bullseye for a 130 kill but still seemed in control, until Van Barneveld fired in a magnificent 160 checkout for a precious hold.

Dale again restored parity at three apiece on D5, before the five-time world champion regained the initiative with a cool 60 checkout. However, the decisive blow was struck in the eighth leg, as Van Barneveld pinned D16 for a 15-darter and a precious break, to move within a leg of the second-round.

Van Barneveld produced a fine scoring leg; leaving 81 after 9 darts, but he missed six darts to close out victory, eventually pinning D3 with his last dart in hand, to set up a tasty second-round clash against Simon Whitlock on Saturday afternoon.

Former BDO number 1, James Wilson, saw off South African star Devon Petersen in the final match of Friday’s marathon double session.Neither player was at their vintage best;  both were averaging around the 89 mark. Nevertheless, Wilson’s finishing was the decisive factor,  with ‘Jammie Dodger’ converting finishes of 121 and 120 en route to victory.

Brendan Dolan survived four missed match darts from Christian Kist as he edged through to round-two. Dolan controlled the contest from the outset, but after missing the bull and two darts at D16 in the decider, the Northern Irishman gave Kist a golden opportunity to steal victory. Yet, the Dutchman fluffed his lines as ‘The History-Maker’ prevailed.

Mick McGowan produced the performance of the afternoon session as he defeated Ronny Huybrechts 6-3 to keep his hopes of reaching the World Grand Prix alive. McGowan averaged 98.62 and registered four maximums to set up a second-round clash with recent International Darts Open champion, Mensur Suljovic.

Elsewhere, Darren Webster set up a showdown with world number one Michael van Gerwen after whitewashing host-nation qualifier Robert Allenstein. Webster was extremely professional throughout, averaging 95.94 and converting 66% of his attempts at double to dismantle the German.

World-Youth champion Max Hopp delighted the German crowd as he roared to a 6-2 victory over former World-Youth champion James Hubbard. Hubbard posted three maximums and hit 66% of his doubles, but his game was plagued with inconsistency, as Hopp landed four maximums to set up a meeting with Gerwyn Price on Saturday.

Cristo Reyes produced a fine comeback to defeat fellow qualifier Robert Marijanovic on Friday evening. Reyes trailed the Croatian 3-2, but reeled off four consecutive legs to secure victory, taking out 107 to seal the win, and finish with an excellent 60% on the doubles.

Joe Murnan eased into the second-round with a fine 6-2 victory over Dragutin Horvat. The former Players Championship winner only hit the solitary maximum, but averaged 92.83 and boasted an impressive 60% on the checkout conversion rate, as Horvat was punished for hitting a miserly 22% of his doubles.

Welshman Jonny Clayton eased past host-nation qualifier Gabriel Clemens after producing a clinical display. Clayton averaged 89.87 , hit 75% of his double attempts and took out finishes of 67, 80 and 116 to set up a second-round battle against Jelle Klaasen.

Quick-fire Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena also overcame a host-nation qualifier in round-one, after beating Fabian Herz 6-3. Wattimena stormed into a 3-0 lead, but Herz reduced the arrears to 4-3 by virtue of a magnificent 127 finish for a 12-darter. However, Wattimena won the next two legs to seal his progression.

Nevertheless, for the second tournament in succession, Martin Schindler delighted the German crowd with a surprise 6-4 victory over Andy Boulton. Schindler averaged 89.38 and completed a trio of fantastic finishes; taking out shots of 74, 90 and 114 to seal a place in the last 32.

World-Youth finalist Nathan Aspinall came through a battle with Jay Foreman, as he prepares to lock horns with Alan Norris in round-two. Aspinall trailed 3-2 at one stage, but he won four of the remaining five legs, which included a magnificent 145 finish, to seal a vital 6-4 win.

Tony West saw off Jeffrey de Graaf in an extremely scrappy affair, which saw the pair miss a multitude of doubles. West kicked off the contest with a fine 101 checkout, before de Graaf broke back instantly by converting a 108 finish. Nevertheless, De Graaf averaged just 73 and hit two of his 17 attempts at double, as West ran out a 6-2 winner.

Alan Tabern made a winning return to the European Tour circuit, as he eased past Scott Taylor on Friday afternoon. The St Helen’s star averaged 87 and landed four maximums to seal victory, as Taylor was left to rue hitting just 2 of his 13 attempts at double. ‘The Saint’ will face Steve Beaton on Saturday afternoon, for a place in the last 16.

Mark Frost overcame Robert Owen in a hard-fought battle to set up a clash with eight-time major winner James Wade in round-two. Both players averaged in the high 70’s and missed a plethora of doubles, but Frost held his nerve in the decider, producing a classy 96 finish to squeeze through.

Finally, Robbie Green secured a bye to the second-round after his first-round opponent Arron Monk withdrew from the competition due to personal reasons. ‘Kong’ will now face 15th seed Joe Cullen in the final match of Saturday’s double-session.

HappyBet European Darts Trophy
Friday September 16
First Round
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)

Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Jay Foreman
Robert Owen 5-6 Mark Frost
Joe Murnan 6-2 Dragutin Horvat
Alan Tabern 6-2 Scott Taylor
Robert Allenstein 0-6 Darren Webster
Mick McGowan 6-3 Ronny Huybrechts
James Hubbard 2-6 Max Hopp

Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm BST)
Christian Kist 5-6 Brendan Dolan
Tony West 6-2 Jeffrey de Graaf
Gabriel Clemens 1-6 Jonny Clayton
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Scott Dale
Andy Boulton 4-6 Martin Schindler
Cristo Reyes 6-3 Robert Marijanovic
Jermaine Wattimena 6-3 Fabian Herz
Devon Petersen 3-6 James Wilson

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