Raymond van Barneveld produced the performance of the first-round on day one at the Players Championship Finals at the Butlins Minehead Resort on Friday evening, as Alan Norris fired in a stunning 9-darter; the first in the history of this tournament.
Michael van Gerwen kicked off the defence of his Players Championship Finals title with a comprehensive 6-1 victory against former world finalist Andy Hamilton. The world number one barely got out of first gear, averaging 95.08, hitting four maximums and converting 43% of his doubles to dispatch the Stoke-on-Trent star.
In round-two, MvG will face his best friend Vincent van der Voort, who produced an inspired comeback to defeat Andrew Gilding in a thrilling affair. ‘Goldfinger’ won three straight legs to seize command at 5-3 but Van der Voort returned the favour, winning three consecutive legs of his own to prevail in a decider with a 95.53 average.
Raymond van Barneveld continued his magnificent form with a sensational 6-4 victory over eighth seed Mensur Suljovic. The five-time world champion averaged 107.4, landed four maximums and converted 55% of his double attempts to prevail against an impressive Suljovic, who posted an average of 102.79.
Van Barneveld took out successive finishes of 120 and 121 to lead 3-2, but Suljovic continued to battle valiantly and levelled up proceedings at 4-4. Barney converted 88 to round-off a 12-darter and move to the cusp of victory, before sealing his progression by pinning D8, having wired the bull for a 170 outshot in the preceding visit.
The Dutchman will face two-time world champion Adrian Lewis in the second-round, after Jackpot saw off three-time major winner Robert Thornton in a very mediocre contest. Both players were considerably off colour, with Lewis clinching a 6-3 win despite averaging just 85.71, as Thornton hit just 3 of his 22 attempts at double.
Alan Norris landed a stunning 9-darter en route to defeating world number eleven Michael Smith. Norris was in sensational form; averaging 106.24 and registering an incredible seven maximums. Smith only averaged 88.73 but he finished clinically, converting a superb 146 finish and hitting 80% of his double attempts, but it wasn’t enough.
World champion Gary Anderson survived a difficult night on the doubles to dump out his compatriot John Henderson. Anderson landed five 180’s and converted a classy 120 checkout to secure victory, but both men finished very poorly. Anderson converted just 23% of his double attempts, with Henderson registering just an 18% success rate.
James Wade saw off Mervyn King in a hard-fought affair, to continue the form which led him to last weekend’s Grand Slam final. Neither player scored particularly well, but ‘The Machine’ converted finishes of 82, 120 and 121 to prevail 6-4 with an average of 92.59, as King departed despite boasting a checkout success ratio of 57%.
Wade will play new world number three Peter Wright in round-two, after Snakebite saw off debutant Jason Wilson in a battling affair. Wright kicked off the contest with six perfect darts but he was unable to sustain that high-level, eventually prevailing with a 94.17 average, four maximums and 50% on the doubles.
Ian White survived a major scare as he overcame former World-Youth champion Keegan Brown in a nerve-jangling last-leg decider. Nine of the eleven legs went against the throw and the third seed survived four match darts in the decider to prevail in an error-strewn contest.
‘The Diamond’ will take on nine-time major finalist Terry Jenkins on Saturday, after ‘The Raging Bull’ defeated former world champion Mark Webster 6-3. Jenkins averaged 92.33, landed three maximums and converted 33% of his doubles to prevail, punishing Webster’s uncharacteristic profligacy on the doubles.
Fourth seed Simon Whitlock saw off tenacious debutant Matthew Edgar to secure a comfortable progression to round-two. ‘The Wizard’ stormed into a 3-0 lead but Edgar rallied, reducing the arrears to 4-3. However the Australian maintained his composure, taking out 112 and 98 finishes to finish with a 95.2 average and record a 6-3 triumph.
Whitlock will face Darren Webster in the last 32, after ‘The Demolition Man’ lived up to his name to defeat Welsh star Jonny Clayton. Webster whitewashed Phil Taylor 5-0 in the group stage of last week’s Grand Slam of Darts and clearly took confidence from that, prevailing 6-3 with a 92.82 average and a 46% checkout success ratio.
Jelle Klaasen came from 4-2 down to defeat the impressive debutant Simon Stevenson. Stevenson averaged 95.96 and fired in three maximums, but he was punished for an indifferent 25% checkout ratio as ‘The Cobra’ reeled off four consecutive legs to triumph.
Klaasen will face his compatriot Vincent Kamphuis in round-two, after the imposing Dutchman caused a major shock to dump out eleventh seed James Wilson. Kamphuis was mightily impressive, averaging 93.51, landing four maximums and converting 46% of his attempts at double.
Dave Chisnall landed five maximums to defeat former winner Kevin Painter in an entertaining tussle. ‘The Artist’ fired in four maximums himself and averaged 93.26, but he was punished for converting a poultry 27% of his double attempts, as Chisnall averaged just over 96 to record a hard-fought 6-4 win.
‘Chizzy’ will face Jamie Lewis in the second-round, after the young Welshman held his nerve to defeat seven-time ranking winner Jamie Caven. ‘Jabba’ averaged 95.62 and took out a 160 checkout but it wasn’t enough to triumph, as Lewis converted a nerveless 101 finish to progress with a 6-4 victory.
Second seed Benito van de Pas suffered a surprise defeat against former World Grand Prix finalist Brendan Dolan in a scrappy affair. Van de Pas struggled throughout but led 5-3 and appeared on the cusp of victory. However the Northern Irishman won the final three legs, including a 12-darter in the tenth leg; to seal his progression.
Daryl Gurney fended off a valiant fightback from the veteran Ronnie Baxter in a topsy-turvy battle. Gurney stormed into a 5-0 advantage, but Baxter averted the whitewash and reeled off three straight legs to keep his hopes alive. However, ‘Super-Chin’ eventually completed victory in style, with a majestic 148 finish.
Gurney will face fifteenth seed Kim Huybrechts on Saturday afternoon, after the Belgian overcame Mickey Mansell on stage two in Friday’s evening session. ‘The Hurricane’ wasn’t at his vintage best but he still triumphed comfortably, averaging 91.27 and hitting 43% of his attempts at double.
Robbie Green fired in four maximums to defeat South African star Devon Petersen on stage two on Friday afternoon. ‘Kong’ averaged 93.28, landed four 180’s and converted 43% of his attempts at double to record a 6-3 win over Petersen, who was ultimately outscored by the Liverpudlian.
Green will take on his former BDO counterpart Jeffrey de Graaf in the last 32, as the Dutchman dumped out 14th seed Steve Beaton. Beaton averaged 94.91 to De Graaf’s 88.65, but the Dutchman posted four 180’s en route to victory, to claim his biggest scalp since joining the PDC earlier this year.
Mick McGowan capitalised on an indifferent performance from Grand Slam quarter-finalist Chris Dobey to cause a minor upset on Friday afternoon. Dobey averaged five points more than the Irishman, but McGowan produced the key shots at the right moment to secure a 6-3 win with a 90.02 average.
Ninth seed Joe Cullen eased into round-two with an emphatic 6-1 win against an off-colour Steve Brown. Cullen landed four maximums but still only averaged 84, although he still had too much for the Bristol man, who struggled for rhythm throughout and averaged in the low 70’s.
Cullen will face Rowby-John Rodriguez on Saturday afternoon, after the diminutive Austrian edged out Ronny Huybrechts in a very scrappy affair. Rodriguez averaged a poultry 80.93 but was clinical when it mattered. Rowby-John hit 55% of his attempts at double, punishing Ronny’s miserly 23% checkout success ratio.
Dimitri van den Bergh produced an inspired comeback to stun fifth seed Gerwyn Price. The Welshman eased into a 4-0 lead, but the Belgian rallied impressively; winning six of the remaining seven legs to edge through in a pulsating deciding-leg, averaging 91.99, hitting three maximums and taking out 60% of his shots at a double.
Former Lakeside world champion Christian Kist edged out former World Youth finalist Ricky Evans in a quick-fire contest. Both men averaged a shade over 94, but Kist fired in three maximums and converted 32% of his attempts at double, including a 106 checkout, to set up a second-round showdown with Dimitri van den Bergh.
Jermaine Wattimena stormed into the last 32 with an impressive whitewash victory over former Pro Tour winner Joe Murnan. Wattimena averaged 93.94, landed two maximums and converted 35% of his doubles to breeze past the Bolton ace, who hit just seven ton-plus scores in the entire contest.
Ron Meulenkamp caused a major shock by dumping out tenth seed Stephen Bunting. ‘The Bullet’ was under-par and the Dutchman capitalised, recording an impressive 6-4 victory with a 93.08 average and three maximums, to set up a second-round clash with 23rd seed and world champion Gary Anderson.
Former Players Championship Finals semi-finalist Justin Pipe fought his way into round-two with a battling 6-3 win against the veteran Andy Jenkins. Both players struggled in the scoring department, hitting just five scores of 140 or above. Nevertheless, ‘The Force’ was crucially more clinical, hitting 50% of his doubles to seal his progression.
Pipe will take on former Lakeside World Championship semi-finalist Jan Dekker in round-two, after the Dutchman won six out of the final seven legs to defeat an in-form Steve West. Dekker was in fine form, hitting two maximums, three 177’s and converting 60% of his attempts at double to record a fine 6-3 win.
World-Youth finalist Berry van Peer somehow secured a spot in round-two after defeating Cristo Reyes 6-5 in an attritional contest. Van Peer struggled throughout and posted a miserly 81.42 average, although Reyes endured a nightmare in the finishing department, missing a staggering 31 double attempts as the Dutchman crawled over the line.
Van Peer will face Josh Payne in round-two, after the 22-year-old edged out Mark Walsh in a topsy-turvy clash. Payne was averaging 103 after four legs, but suddenly he became embroiled in a real scrap, only to secure victory in a dramatic last-leg decider with a classy 13-darter.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Cash Converters Players Championship Finals
Friday November 25
Joe Cullen 6-1 Steve Brown
Ian White 6-5 Keegan Brown
Chris Dobey 3-6 Mick McGowan
Jelle Klaasen 6-4 Simon Stevenson
Simon Whitlock 6-3 Matthew Edgar
Cristo Reyes 5-6 Berry van Peer
Christian Kist 6-4 Ricky Evans
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Kevin Painter
James Wilson 2-6 Vincent Kamphuis
Joe Murnan 0-6 Jermaine Wattimena
Justin Pipe 6-3 Andy Jenkins
Darren Webster 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Josh Payne 6-5 Mark Walsh
Vincent van der Voort 6-5 Andrew Gilding
Jamie Caven 4-6 Jamie Lewis
Robbie Green 6-3 Devon Petersen
James Wade 6-4 Mervyn King
Gerwyn Price 5-6 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Mensur Suljovic 4-6 Raymond van Barneveld
Benito van de Pas 5-6 Brendan Dolan
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Andy Hamilton
Gary Anderson 6-3 John Henderson
Peter Wright 6-3 Jason Wilson
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Robert Thornton
Steve West 3-6 Jan Dekker
Steve Beaton 4-6 Jeffrey de Graaf
Mark Webster 3-6 Terry Jenkins
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Ronnie Baxter
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Mickey Mansell
Alan Norris 6-4 Michael Smith – Alan Norris hits nine-dart finish
Ronny Huybrechts 4-6 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Stephen Bunting 4-6 Ron Meulenkamp