World number one Michael van Gerwen remains on course to win his second World Championship crown after seeing off a dogged Darren Webster, whilst Phil Taylor set up a quarter-final clash with his old rival Raymond van Barneveld on another dramatic night of action at the Alexandra Palace on Thursday evening.
Van Gerwen booked his place in Friday’s quarter-finals with an emphatic 4-1 victory over tournament giant-killer Darren Webster. ‘The Demolition Man’ had already defeated Stephen Bunting and Simon Whitlock to reach this stage, but MvG proved an obstacle too far, with the Dutchman averaging 104.40 and landing eight maximums.
‘The Green Machine’ clinched a hard-fought opening set in which Webster was left to rue missed doubles. The Norwich ace missed darts to break in the third leg, before spurning two set darts moments later. This ignited ‘The Green Machine’, who won six of the next seven legs to establish total control of the contest.
Webster fought back valiantly and opened his account in an entertaining fourth set. MvG followed up a maximum with a sublime 170 outshot, but Webster took out 96 to level, before taking out 81 after hitting his fifth 180 in the preceding visit. MvG converted a 68 finish to level, but Webster prolonged the contest with help via a sixth maximum.
The comeback appeared on when ‘The Demolition Man’ sealed the opening two legs of set five, but MvG stayed alive with a vital 88 outshot, before landing D10 to level after hitting seven perfect darts earlier in the leg. Webster had the chance to reduce the arrears further but missed darts at double, as Van Gerwen completed victory with a 62 checkout.
Phil Taylor will meet his old rival Raymond van Barneveld in the last eight after surviving late resistance from Kim Huybrechts to prevail in an emotionally charged tussle. ‘The Power’ appeared in cruise control but survived a late rally from ‘The Hurricane’ to prevail 4-2 with a 101.37 average, seven maximums and 41% on the doubles.
Huybrechts made a perfect start by winning the opening two legs, but Taylor produced an unlikely comeback which included two breaks of throw to steal the opening set. The Belgian broke Taylor immediately in set two, but the 55-year-old responded with a 101 checkout, before pinning D16 and tops to lead 2-0 with a 104 average.
For the third set in succession, Huybrechts won the opening leg but he was again thwarted as Taylor posted maximums in three consecutive legs to move within a set of the last eight. Taylor spurned two match darts for a whitewash in the fourth, and Huybrechts stayed alive on D16, having missed the bull for a 170 in the preceding visit.
The 16-time world champion responded with a clinical 70 checkout, but Huybrechts crashed in his fifth maximum to level, before taking out a fine 109 checkout to level. The Stoke-on-Trent star was beginning to display some fallibility and Huybrechts pounced, nailing D16 for his third straight leg to reduce the deficit to the solitary set.
Taylor responded strongly by claiming the opening two legs of the set to move to the cusp of victory. However, he then squandered a further two match darts as Huybrechts prolonged the drama with an 80 checkout, but ‘The Power’ eventually overcame a string of missed doubles to seal his progression on D7.
Third seed Peter Wright cruised into the last eight with a convincing 4-1 victory against former quarter-finalist Ian White. Snakebite was in impressive form; averaging 103.05, landing three maximums and boasting a 59% conversion rate on the doubles, as White was beaten despite hitting six maximums and 55% of his attempts at double.
The Scot enjoyed a dominant start to the contest, winning ten of the opening eleven legs to establish a commanding three-set cushion. However, White fired back on D4, before registering maximums in successive legs and converting finishes of 68 and 82 to clinch the fourth set.
Despite this, White was unable to produce a fairy-tale comeback as Snakebite rounded off victory in the fifth and deciding leg of set five. The opening four legs were shared, before the 2014 finalist cleaned up a clinical 65 kill to round off a 14-darter and seal his progression to the quarter-finals.
James Wade produced an inspired comeback from 3-1 down to defeat Michael Smith and keep his hopes of winning a maiden world title alive. ‘The Machine’ averaged 94.01, landed five maximums and converted 41% of his double attempts to prevail, as Smith surrendered a big lead at the Ally Pally for the second year in succession.
Smith made a blistering start to the contest, winning six of the opening seven legs to establish a two-set lead. The next two sets were shared as ‘Bully-Boy’ moved to the cusp of victory, but Wade launched a valiant fightback and registered 121 finishes in successive sets to restore parity at three apiece.
Smith suffered defeat against Raymond van Barneveld in the quarter-finals twelve months ago having led 3-0, and history repeated itself as the eight-time major winner won the final set without reply to complete a sequence of seven straight winning legs as he booked his place in Friday’s last eight.
Dave Chisnall secured a spot in his maiden World Championship quarter-final with a hard-fought 4-2 victory over last year’s semi-finalist Jelle Klaasen. Neither player were at their vintage best, but Chisnall prevailed with a 93.88 average, twelve maximums and an impressive 41% checkout success rate.
Klaasen struggled for fluency in the opening stages as the seventh seed surged into a 2-0 lead. Yet ‘The Cobra’ displayed impressive resistance in the third set, sealing it with a majestic 140 checkout. Nevertheless, the St Helen’s responded by winning five successive legs to move to within a solitary leg of the last eight.
Klaasen wasn’t finished yet. He reeled off three successive legs to reduce the deficit to 3-2, before pinning D4 and converting a 72 kill to seize the momentum in the sixth set. Despite this, with the Dutchman poised to force a seventh and final set, Chisnall reeled off three legs of his own and sealed victory by following up his twelfth maximum with tops.
Daryl Gurney survived a valiant fightback to defeat former Lakeside world champion Mark Webster in an emotionally-charged contest. Gurney led 3-1 but missed six match darts and became embroiled in a spat with the majority of the Ally Pally crowd, but the Northern Irishman eventually prevailed in a seventh and deciding set.
Webster started the contest strongly by clinching the opening set to nil. Gurney broke the Welshman’s early monopoly to restore parity at one apiece, before winning six straight legs to establish a commanding 3-1 cushion as Webster endured a nightmare in the finishing department.
However, Webby showed real tenacity to reduce the arrears to 3-2, before levelling up proceedings in the sixth set as Gurney self-imploded, missing five match darts and sarcastically applauding the Ally Pally crowd as the pressure intensified.
Webster drew first blood in the seventh and deciding set but Gurney demonstrated real character to recover; levelling with a 103 checkout for a 12-darter, before landing his seventh 180 to regain the lead. This time the Northern Irishman made no mistake, pinning tops to seal a place in his first ever World Championship quarter-final.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
William Hill World Darts Championship
Thursday December 29
Afternoon Session (1pm)
Mark Webster (25) 3-4 Daryl Gurney (24)
Dave Chisnall (7) 4-2 Jelle Klaasen (10)
James Wade (6) 4-3 Michael Smith (11)
Evening Session (7pm)
Peter Wright (3) 4-1 Ian White (14)
Phil Taylor (4) 4-2 Kim Huybrechts (13)
Michael van Gerwen (1) 4-1 Darren Webster