World number one Michael van Gerwen averaged 111.51 to kick off his European Tour season in sensational style, as James Wade, Simon Whitlock and Michael Smith were all dumped out in a dramatic double-session of darts at the Halle 39 in Hildesheim on Saturday.
Michael van Gerwen began his European Tour campaign with a sensational performance against his compatriot Jermaine Wattimena. Van Gerwen’s incredible 44 match televised unbeaten run was ended by Raymond van Barneveld on Thursday, but ‘The Green Machine’ responded in magnificent fashion.
Wattimena had averaged over 100 in thrashing home-favourite Bernd Roith on Friday evening, but he was on the receiving end of a rampant display on this occasion. Van Gerwen averaged 111.51, fired in three maximums and converted 60% of his attempts at double to record an emphatic 6-1 win within a matter of minutes.
Second seed Peter Wright came from 3-1 and 5-4 behind to edge out Christian Kist in a thrilling second-round tie, which saw both men threaten nine-dart finishes. Kist stormed into a 3-1 lead, but a majestic 160 checkout saw Snakebite hit back, before the Scot pegged a nerveless 112 kill in the decider to seal victory with a 95.01 average.
Mensur Suljovic defied six maximums from Mervyn King to book his spot in Sunday’s third-round. King fired in six 180’s in five legs and averaged 102.02, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the clinical ‘Gentle’. Suljovic averaged 101.25, boasted a checkout success rate of 86% and dispatched finishes of 64, 66, 68, 116 and 123 to triumph 6-3.
Darren Johnson produced a remarkable comeback from 5-1 down to dump out James Wade, after the eight-time major winner spurned six match darts. Wade posted five maximums and seemed certain to run out a comprehensive winner, but Johnson reeled off five consecutive legs and sealed victory with a clinical 90 kill in a dramatic decider.
Simon Whitlock was another high-profile name to suffer an early exit, after he was beaten 6-2 by Kevin Painter in a real scrappy affair. Whitlock has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence of late; winning five Pro Tour titles in as many months.
Nevertheless, ‘The Wizard’ produced a real abject performance against Painter; averaging a miserly 83.17 and hitting just two of his fourteen double attempts. ‘The Artist’ missed seventeen darts at double himself, but scored strongly to run out a convincing winner with a modest 88.40 average.
In his first game since suffering Premier League elimination, Kim Huybrechts produced an imperious display to defeat Brazilian Diogo Portela. The Rio ace made history yesterday by becoming the first Brazilian to register victory on the European Tour, but ‘The Hurricane’ averaged 98.35 and landed four maximums to kick off his campaign with a 6-1 victory.
Huybrechts will face reigning champion Alan Norris in round-three, after Norris began the defence of his title with a battling 6-4 win against a tenacious Richie Corner. ‘Chuck’ led 5-1 before Corner reeled off three legs on the spin to reduce the arrears to the solitary leg, but Norris regained his composure to seal his passage through with a 90.65 average.
Jelle Klaasen also bounced back from his Premier League disappointment to dismantle Mick McGowan 6-1. ‘The Cobra’ defied his ongoing wrist injury to convert finishes of 107 and 130 en route to routing the Irishman and setting up a third-round showdown against fifth seed Dave Chisnall.
Chisnall breezed into round-three with an impressive whitewash victory over Belgian hotshot Dimitri van den Bergh. ‘The Dream-Maker’ endured a nightmare in the finishing department and Chisnall capitalised; averaging 96.97, landing three maximums and taking out a spectacular 140 checkout to book his spot in Sunday’s last 16.
Elsewhere, Jan Dekker produced a brilliant display to dump out thirteenth seed Michael Smith on Saturday afternoon. The Dutchman averaged 99.30 and converted 66% of his double attempts to record an emphatic 6-1 victory, which he sealed in style with a classy 128 checkout.
Dekker will face his fellow countryman and fourth seed Benito van de Pas in the third-round, after ‘Big Ben’ saw off European Tour debutant Paul Harvey. Harvey couldn’t replicate the performance which saw him average 103 and register seven maximums in round-one, as Benito prevailed 6-4 with a solid 95.84 average and two maximums.
UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price continued his good form to breeze into round-three with a comprehensive 6-1 triumph over Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski. Price averaged 99.06 and recorded three ton-plus finishes of 104, 112 and 118, to set up a third-round clash with Kevin Painter.
Ian White survived a major scare to edge out John Bowles in a nervy last-leg decider. ‘The Diamond’ averaged 90.21 to sneak past the former Rugby League star, despite trailing 5-4 at one stage. The eighth seed sank D1 to force a decider, before dispatching a nerveless 98 kill to secure victory, with Bowles poised on tops for the match.
Cristo Reyes produced a clinical display of finishing to halt Paul Nicholson’s European Tour resurgence. ‘The Asset’ made a winning return yesterday after a three-year hiatus, but Reyes was in ruthless mood on Saturday afternoon. The Spanish star averaged 96.71 and took out finishes of 81, 86, 95 (x2) and 112 to record a convincing 6-2 win.
Former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting returned to winning ways with a much-needed victory over his close friend David Pallett. Pallett averaged over six points more than his opponent, but ‘The Bullet’ landed four maximums and posted an 88.43 average to close out a hard-fought 6-4 triumph.
Finally, Joe Cullen brought the second-round to a conclusion with a comfortable win over Scottish star Jamie Bain. Bain averaged 102 in defeating Chris Dobey in round-one, but failed to replicate that form against ‘The Rockstar’, who averaged 96.62, crashed in three maximums and hit 43% of his darts at double.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Saturday March 25
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm UK time)
Gerwyn Price 6-1 Krzysztof Ratajski
Ian White 6-5 John Bowles
Jelle Klaasen 6-1 Mick McGowan
Jan Dekker 6-1 Michael Smith
Cristo Reyes 6-2 Paul Nicholson
Kim Huybrechts 6-1 Diogo Portela
Stephen Bunting 6-4 David Pallett
Alan Norris 6-4 Richie Corner
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm UK time)
Darren Johnson 6-5 James Wade
Dave Chisnall 6-0 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Benito van de Pas 6-4 Paul Harvey
Peter Wright 6-5 Christian Kist
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Jermaine Wattimena
Mensur Suljovic 6-3 Mervyn King
Kevin Painter 6-2 Simon Whitlock
Joe Cullen 6-2 Jamie Bain