Reigning champion Robert Thornton and former winner James Wade were both dumped out on the opening night of the World Grand Prix, as Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld all progressed to round-two at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin on Sunday evening.
Thornton’s hopes of defending his title were quashed by former world champion Stephen Bunting, who held his nerve to prevail in an exciting affair. ‘The Bullet’ won the opening leg, but Thornton rallied and clinched the opening set with successive finishes of 125, 62 and 67.
However Bunting responded strongly, breaking Thornton early in set two with a clinical 105 kill. The St Helen’s star doubled his lead moments later, and whilst the Scot fired back with a 12-darter, Bunting levelled up proceedings at one set apiece with a 12-darter of his own.
‘The Bullet’ hit tops to take the lead early in set three, but Thornton replied by pinning D10. Bunting then moved to within a leg of victory, following up his fourth maximum by hitting D8. Thornton kicked off the fourth leg with five perfect darts, but missed a multitude of darts at double to force a decider, as Bunting secured the win via D4.
World champion Gary Anderson kicked off his campaign with an emphatic 2-0 victory over Jamie Caven. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ breezed to the first set without reply as ‘Jabba’ struggled for consistency. The second set was a much more competitive affair, but finishes of 112, 124 and 86 sealed victory for the world number two.
Adrian Lewis edged out Jelle Klaasen in arguably the match of the night. The two-time world champion made a blistering start and clinched the opening set without reply, after posting two maximums and taking out finishes of 116 and 157.
Klaasen fought back valiantly however, and after Lewis missed D13 for the match, ‘The Cobra’ converted a sublime 105 finish on D14 to force a third and final set. It was a tense affair but ‘Jackpot’ held his nerve to win the final set by three legs to one, sealing his progression with an impressive double-in average of 91.6.
In the last 16, Lewis will take on five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, who saw off Mervyn King in straight sets to complete the opening night of action. The first two legs of the match were rather sloppy, but Van Barneveld took out 130 on the bull to hold his throw in leg three, before nailing D16 moments later to clinch the opening set.
The second set was a particularly high-quality affair. Barney conjured up a majestic 164 finish to break throw in the third leg, but King stayed alive with a fine 14-darter. Mervyn had the advantage of throw in the fifth and deciding leg of set two, but even a fourth maximum wasn’t enough, as Van Barneveld converted 80 in two darts to seal victory.
Barney’s compatriot Benito van de Pas clinched his first win at the World Grand-Prix with a comprehensive straight sets win over Welshman Gerwyn Price. Price struggled from the outset, winning just two legs and averaging a miserly 72, as ‘Big Ben’ put aside recent controversy to book his spot in round-two.
Van de Pas will face Terry Jenkins for a place in the quarter-finals, after the nine-time major finalist claimed a shock victory over two-time Grand Prix champion James Wade. Wade won the opening set, but Jenkins restored parity at one apiece with finishes of 90 and 76.
The contest went to a fifth and deciding leg in set three and ‘The Machine’ had the advantage of throw. Nevertheless, Wade took five darts to pin a starting double and Jenkins capitalised, converting a clinical 77 finish on tops for a 15-darter, and a very precious triumph.
Elsewhere, Kim Huybrechts produced a spirited comeback to dump out last year’s quarter-finalist Ian White. White clinched a nervy opening set and celebrated with uncharacteristic gusto, but this appeared to galvanise the Belgian, who won six of the remaining nine legs to book his place in the last 16 in what was a tempestuous affair.
Finally, Kyle Anderson enjoyed a successful Grand Prix debut after coming from behind to edge out Cristo Reyes in a last-leg decider. Reyes secured the opening set, but ‘The Original’ fought back valiantly and produced a sublime final leg, posting a stunning 171 before taking out tops to set up a round-two clash with his namesake, Gary Anderson.
2016 Unibet World Grand Prix
Sunday October 2 (7pm)
First Round x8
Kyle Anderson 2-1 Cristo Reyes
Ian White 1-2 Kim Huybrechts
James Wade (6) 1-2 Terry Jenkins
Gerwyn Price 0-2 Benito van de Pas
Adrian Lewis (3) 2-1 Jelle Klaasen
Robert Thornton (7) 1-2 Stephen Bunting
Gary Anderson (2) 2-0 Jamie Caven
Mervyn King 0-2 Raymond van Barneveld