Dave Chisnall survived a major scare as he edged out Rowby-John Rodriguez in a five-set thriller; Jelle Klaasen and Kim Huybrechts progressed through to round-two convincingly, whilst former World-Youth champion Max Hopp dumped out Vincent van der Voort on day eight at the Alexandra Palace on Thursday evening.
Chisnall was made to sweat as he overcame tenacious Austrian Rowby-John Rodriguez in a five-set epic in round-one. Rodriguez produced one of the best televised performances of his career, but the world number seven landed nine maximums and averaged 98.72 to prevail and set up a second-round showdown with rising star Chris Dobey.
The pair exchanged breaks of throw in the opening two legs, before Chisnall secured the lead with a regulation hold on D19. Rowby-John then left tops after nine darts as he eventually levelled up on D2, before capitalising on one missed dart from ‘Chizzy’ to clinch the set with an impressive 13-dart break.
Chisnall drew first-blood in the second set by breaking throw in an error strewn leg. The St Helen’s ace extended his cushion with with a 13-dart hold, but the Austrian responded in kind to prolong the set. Rodriguez then spurned a golden opportunity to break back, as Chisnall took out a crucial 120 finish to restore parity at one-set apiece.
The pair exchanged visits of 162 as Chisnall kicked off set three in 14-darts, but ‘Little John’ soon levelled up in 15-darts. However, the seventh seed began to find his range and regained the initiative with a 13-dart hold, before clinching the set on D4 having kicked off the leg with back-to-back maximums.
Chisnall appeared in cruise control at this point, but Rowby-John displayed impressive character to fightback. He seized command of the fourth set with confident 54 and 85 finishes, and although he missed two set darts to hand ‘Chizzy’ a reprieve, he bounced back with a clinical two-dart 72 kill to force a fifth and deciding set.
Nevertheless, Chisnall demonstrated his class with a majestic final set performance, which saw him average over 121. He converted a two-dart 90 kill to hold with Rowby sat on 43 after just 9 darts, before taking out a nerveless 117 finish to seal control. The St Helen’s ace then registered successive maximums to round-off victory with a stunning 11-darter.
After his dramatic win, Chisnall told Josh’s Dartistry. “It was good in patches; it wasn’t brilliant but he pushed me and to be fair he let me off in a few of the legs. I pulled out good darts when I needed to, but at 2-1 I got too settled. Hopefully I can get to the final. There’s only one person who can beat me recently and that’s Michael van Gerwen, and he’s not in my half.”
Former Lakeside world champion Jelle Klaasen produced an impressive display to defeat his compatriot Jeffrey de Graaf in an entertaining tussle. The tenth seed averaged 97.35, posted six maximums and converted 50% of his double attempts to round-off an excellent win over Ally Pally debutant De Graaf.
Klaasen drew first blood in a pulsating opening set. ‘The Cobra’ landed his first maximum and converted a 121 finish (Bull, T13, D16) to hold, before doubling his lead with an 86 outshot for another 12-darter. De Graaf stayed in contention with a 127 checkout on the bull followed by a 13-darter, but the tenth seed sealed the set with a clinical 66 finish.
De Graaf began set two strongly with a 15-dart hold, before doubling his lead after Klaasen failed to go out in 21 darts despite posting his third maximum. Jelle had temporarily lost his scoring power and the former BDO world number three capitalised to clinch the set without reply after overcoming some double-trouble.
The third set followed a very similar pattern to the first. Klaasen established a 2-0 lead after costly missed doubles from De Graaf, but the 26-year-old stayed alive with a clinical 75 finish, before forcing another set decider after pinning D4. Nevertheless, Jelle again maintained his composure to seal the set with a fine 13-darter.
However, the tenth seed really turned on the style in the fourth. He converted a majestic 100 finish (S20, D20, D20), before pinning tops again to complete an 80 kill in 15 darts to move within a leg of victory. De Graaf nailed D14 to prolong the contest, but Klaasen followed up his sixth maximum with an impressive 14-darter to seal his triumph.
After his win, Klaasen told Josh’s Dartistry: “I think I was a little bit unlucky this year that I was playing Michael a lot of times in the quarter-finals. If I didn’t play Michael in the quarter-finals all the time I think I could have made a few finals, but on my side this year I have Gary Anderson, Peter Wright and Dave Chisnall, and they can beat everyone on their day.”
Former World Youth champion Max Hopp produced one of the best televised performances of his career to dump out 20th seed Vincent van der Voort. ‘The Maximiser’ averaged 94.59, landed six maximums and converted 59% of his double attempts to record a wonderful victory; punishing Van der Voort’s dire display of finishing.
The pair traded maximums in an opening leg which saw the Dutchman take out a fine two-dart 81 finish to hold, only for him to miss six darts in the following leg as Hopp levelled. Nevertheless, Van der Voort responded by converting a pivotal 90 finish to regain the lead, before securing the opener with a magnificent 11-darter.
Despite this, Hopp fought back tremendously in the following set. He opened his account with a confident 61 kill, before hitting his fourth maximum and pinning tops to extend his cushion. The former World-Youth champion was scoring superbly and then followed up his fifth maximum with a clinical 13-darter to clinch the set without reply.
Van der Voort endured double-trouble in the opening leg of set three as Hopp broke, and the German won his fifth leg in succession after ‘The Dutch Destroyer’ failed to take out 107. Vincent stayed alive with a 13-dart hold, but Hopp held his nerve magnificently; posting three successive 140’s and taking out 81 in 12 darts to move 2-1 ahead in sets.
Van der Voort punished an indifferent leg from the 20-year-old to break throw on D10, but Hopp fired straight back with a clinical 102 checkout to break. ‘The Maximiser’ then landed his sixth 180 to move within touching distance of victory, which he duly wrapped up on D6 after the 20th seed spurned three darts at D1 to stay alive.
Hopp admitted to Josh’s Dartistry that he’s very proud ro be inspiring the next generation of German stars. “I’m proud to be the person who change things in Germany. I know there are young kids aged who have never heard about darts and they see me and think he’s only 20; I can be there in a few years, so they start to pick up darts. To see that happening in Germany; it’s very nice.”
Kim Huybrechts kicked off his World Championship campaign in style with an emphatic straight sets triumph over former BDO number one James Wilson. The Belgian number one averaged 98.60, hit five maximums and converted 64% of his attempts at double to round off a thoroughly professional display.
Wilson spurned three darts to break ‘The Hurricane’ in the opening leg, as the first four legs went with the darts. Neither player found their range in the opening exchanges, but Huybrechts produced a quality fifth leg to clinch the opener, converting a 104 checkout on D16 for a commanding 12-dart hold.
The Belgian upped the ante after the interval to win the second set convincingly. Huybrechts fired in successive finishes of 81 and 85 to establish total control, and although Wilson responded with his first-maximum to register a 13-darter, the thirteenth seed continued his clinical finishing by nailing 76 to double his lead in sets.
Huybrechts drew first blood in set three on D18 after Wilson missed the bull for a 121 finish, before ‘The Hurricane’ moved to within a leg of victory after following up five perfect darts with a 95 outshot. Wilson had no answer for the Belgian’s brilliance, and Huybrechts closed out his straight sets triumph with a 138 match-winning salvo.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
William Hill World Darts Championship
Thursday December 22 (7pm)
Jelle Klaasen (10) 3-1 Jeffrey de Graaf
Vincent van der Voort (20) 1-3 Max Hopp
Dave Chisnall (7) 3-2 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Kim Huybrechts (13) 3-0 James Wilson