Benito van de Pas and Michael Smith edged out the veteran duo of Terry Jenkins and Mervyn King in pulsating seven-set tiebreaks, as Ian White also eased through to round-three in a stunning session of darts at the Alexandra Palace on Friday afternoon.
Van de Pas survived an inspired comeback from nine-time major finalist Terry Jenkins to prevail in an epic seventh-set tiebreak in the match of the tournament thus far. Jenkins landed 28 14o’s and 7 180’s in a brilliant scoring display, but Van de Pas recorded a huge victory with a 95.79 average, seven maximums and 37% on the doubles.
Van-de Pas clinched a hard-fought opening set with a moment of magic. The opening four legs all went with throw, before the Dutchman crashed in a stunning 177 to set up a 12-dart leg to break Jenkins’ throw.
However, Jenkins responded strongly to level up proceedings with a whitewash second set. Jenkins took out a clinical 81 combination for an 11-dart break in the opening leg of the set, before registering six perfect darts en route to a second successive 11-darter. ‘The Raging Bull’ was flowing, and pinned tops at the first time of asking for parity.
The opening two legs of the third set were shared, before Van de Pas put on the afterburners. The Dutchman fired in an 11-darter to break, before clinching the set on tops after Jenkins missed the same target for a double-double 98 finish.
‘Big Ben’ kicked off set four with a commanding 13-dart hold, but Jenkins showed his tenacity to fire back with a clinical 100 checkout. The nine-time major finalist was first to a double in the following two legs, but ‘The Raging Bull’ spurned golden opportunities which allowed the 23-year-old to establish a comfortable 3-1 cushion.
Nevertheless, Jenkins is renowned for his fighting spirit and that was evidenced as the Herefordshire ace launched a valiant comeback. Van de Pas won the opening leg of set five, but the 53-year-old responded by levelling on tops, taking out 120 to hit the front, before converting an 84 finish to clinch the fifth set in 12 darts.
The veteran Ledbury star then fired in his second straight 12-darter to break early in set six, converting an 87 finish on the bullseye. Jenkins then landed tops for his fifth straight leg after the fifteenth seed wired the bull for a 164 outshot, before Terry clinched the set with a stunning 13-darter to force a dramatic decider.
The seventh and final set didn’t disappoint. Van de Pas stopped the rot with a 14-darter, but Jenkins reeled off successive legs after posting two maximums in as many legs. The Dutch youngster stayed alive with a nerveless 13-darter, but ‘The Raging Bull’ defied a seventh maximum from Benito to regain the lead with an impressive 14-dart kill.
The sixth leg of the set was a tumultuous affair for both players. Van de Pas spurned six darts at double but Jenkins couldn’t capitalise; missing one match dart at tops for a 120 finish.
‘Big Ben’ eventually levelled on D7, before moving to the brink of victory with a majestic 110 outshot. Jenkins had the chance to level once more but spurned a further two opportunities as Van de Pas returned to peg D5 and prevail in a breathless contest.
Benito told Josh’s Dartistry: “It was strange but I was very relaxed on the stage; the audience were all for Terry but I said to myself keep going, and I did my thing and I won the game. I think the last three years in the second round it was close; two years ago against Chisnall, last year against Dimitri and now against Terry. Hopefully I will play the same next game.”
Elsewhere, Michael Smith edged past Mervyn King in another gripping seventh-set tiebreak. Both men survived five-set thrillers in round-one and it went the distance again, as Smith landed an astonishing 14 maximums to prevail 4-3 with a 93.83 average, despite missing NINE match darts earlier in the contest.
King made a stunning start after breaking Smith’s throw with a classy 121 checkout (T20, T11, D14). ‘The King’ then extended his lead on D4 and although the St Helen’s star landed his first maximum to stay alive in the opener, King responded in kind; crashing in his first maximum to round-off an accomplished 13-darter to wrap up the set.
Smith drew first blood in set two; breaking after both men had earlier missed darts at the bull. Nevertheless, King drew level with a clinical 68 outshot, before hitting the front with a majestic 148 kill. Smith pinned D10 to force a set decider and then hit tops to level up proceedings at one apiece, after King had spurned three set darts for a 2-0 cushion.
The opening two legs of set three were shared, before Smith landed his second maximum and pinned D15 to complete a 13-darter. ‘Bully-Boy’ squandered three set darts in the following leg, although he wasn’t unduly punished as he established a 2-1 lead after pinning tops in the third set decider.
King was becoming visibly frustrated with his inconsistency and Smith pounced to secure the opening two legs of the fourth set. The Norfolk ace remained in contention after taking out a 64 kill, but the former World-Youth champion landed his fifth maximum before hitting D10 to hold his nerve and clinch his third set in succession.
The opening two legs of set five went against throw, before Smith pinned D8 to move to the cusp of victory. King stayed alive with a timely 13-darter, before the world number eleven spurned three match darts for a 4-1 triumph, enabling King to reduce the arrears to 3-2 after pinning D10.
The first two legs of the following set were shared, before the former World-Youth champion crashed in successive maximums and converted a quality two-dart 97 finish for an 11-darter to again move within one leg of victory. Yet once again King stayed alive after taking out majestic 130 and 80 finishes to force a dramatic seventh and final set.
Smith appeared shell-shocked but responded strongly to clinch the opening two legs of the deciding set with confident two-dart finishes. Nevertheless, King continued to fight valiantly and prolonged the drama with a 74 finish, before capitalising on a further three missed match darts from ‘Bully-Boy’ to take out 70 and force a nerve-jangling tiebreak.
King survived three match darts against Steve West in round-one and had survived nine match darts against the 25-year-old from St Helen’s, but he wasn’t to be afforded further reprieves, as Smith regained the lead with a 15-dart hold, before sealing his progression on tops after King had wired the same target for a 120 finish in the preceding visit.
Smith admitted to Josh’s Dartistry that this tournament takes complete priority for him. “This is the big one. You spend ten months of the year practising just for this tournament. I’d rather be a World champion than a Matchplay champion or European champion.
“Everyone wants to be world champion, so I can play badly for ten months as long as I bring my best game here and lift up the World Championship. That’s all that matters,” the 25-year-old added.
Finally, Ian White produced a professional performance to ease past Jonny Clayton and become the first man to reach round-three at the William Hill World Darts Championship. ‘The Diamond’ landed eight maximums, averaged 92.60 and converted an impressive 48% of his doubles to record an emphatic 4-1 win over the under-par Welshman.
White made a blistering start to the contest by firing in his first maximum and converting an 80 kill to break in the opening leg. The Stoke-on-Trent star doubled his lead with a 64 outshot and although he squandered two set darts in the third leg, he returned to hold throw in the fourth and wrap up the opener.
The opening two legs of the second set were shared, before the fourteenth seed converted a clinical 84 finish to hit the front before breaking the Welshman’s throw once more to double his advantage.
White made a strong start to the third set, drawing first blood with another break, before dispatching a 78 finish with consummate ease to continue his dominance. The third-leg saw a staggering three maximums hit as Clayton reduced the arrears with a 13-darter, but ‘The Diamond’ held his nerve to nail D16 and establish a commanding three set lead.
White kicked off set four with his seventh maximum before taking out 91 to continue his procession to the finishing line. However, Clayton levelled with a clinical 111 checkout, before breaking ‘The Diamond’ on D8. White spurned one dart at tops to break straight back, which enabled ‘The Ferret’ to pin D16 and open his account.
This appeared to inspire the Welshman, as he seized the initiative in set five with back-to-back legs. Nevertheless, White recovered superbly, registering legs of 13 and 15 darts to force a set decider and heap the pressure on Clayton. This paid dividends, as the trebles eluded Clayton, which enabled White to fire in a 14-darter to seal victory on tops.
William Hill World Darts Championship
Friday December 23
Afternoon Session (1pm)
Ian White (14) 4-1 Jonny Clayton
Michael Smith (11) 4-3 Mervyn King (22)
Benito van de Pas (15) 4-3 Terry Jenkins (18)