Peter Wright began his bid for a fourth European Tour title of the year with victory over Polish star Krzysztof Ratajski, as James Wade, Jelle Klaasen and Kim Huybrechts were dumped out in the second-round of the Gibraltar Darts Trophy on Saturday.
Wright has won three of the opening four European Tour events in 2017 thus far and he began his campaign at the Victoria Stadium with a 6-3 win against Ratajski; who continues to impress on the European Tour. However, Snakebite averaged 98.20, landed two maximums and converted 35% of his double attempts to prevail.
Nevertheless, 2014 Gibraltar Darts Trophy winner James Wade was dumped out in the opening round by Belgian hotshot Dimitri van den Bergh. ‘The Machine’ fired in four maximums but surrendered a 5-4 advantage and missed match darts, as Van den Bergh condemned Wade to another deciding-leg Euro Tour defeat with a 95.24 average.
Second seed Mensur Suljovic produced the performance of the day to edge out an impressive Alan Tabern. The St Helen’s star piled in five maximums, averaged 98.71 and converted 66% of his attempts at double, but it wasn’t enough as Suljovic triumphed with a 103.94 average and a 50% checkout success rate.
Simon Whitlock was the only other man to register a ton-plus average on Saturday, as he thumped former Lakeside world champion Steve Beaton in the evening’s finale. ‘The Wizard’ averaged 102.21, crashed in five maximums and took out a spectacular 164 checkout to record a comprehensive 6-1 victory.
Whitlock will face Daryl Gurney in round-three, after the Northern Irishman produced some fine finishing to defeat Darren Webster 6-3. ‘Super-Chin’ averaged 92.01 and landed the solitary maximum, but he conjured up three ton-plus finishes; including the maximum 170 outshot, to book his place in Sunday’s last 16.
Dave Chisnall continued his winning run with victory over Jonny Clayton in a scrappy affair. Chisnall enjoyed a blistering second-half of the Premier League season; going unbeaten in his final seven matches. However, he was forced to sweat against Clayton; averaging a modest 86.46 en route to recording a hard-fought 6-4 win.
Chisnall will face Rob Cross in round-three, after the Hastings ace piled in six maximums to edge past Joe Cullen in a gripping deciding-leg shootout. Cullen averaged 91.94 and landed three maximums himself, but he was edged out by his Nevada team-mate, who is on the verge of securing his third consecutive European Tour quarter-final appearance.
Jelle Klaasen’s brilliant run on the European Tour was halted by an inspired Magnus Caris on Saturday afternoon. Klaasen had reached at least the semi-finals in each of the last five European Tour events, but the Swedish veteran caused a major shock; averaging 95.59, landing three maximums and converting 46% of his attempts at double.
Klaasen’s stablemate Kim Huybrechts also suffered a surprise second-round exit, at the hands of former BDO number one James Wilson. Huybrechts landed three maximums and averaged four points higher than Wilson, but ‘The Jammie Dodger’ boasted a clinical 60% checkout success rate to record arguably his biggest win of 2017 so far.
Wilson will face Ian White in Sunday’s last 16, after the Stoke star recorded a convincing 6-3 victory against Scotland’s John Henderson. ‘The Diamond’ averaged 93.85, posted four maximums and successfully converted 40% of his attempts at double to continue his strong run of form on the European Tour.
UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price endured a nightmare on the doubles as he was beaten by recent Pro Tour finalist Darren Johnson. The Welshman fired in three maximums but converted just three of his 20 attempts at double, as Johnson triumphed 6-3 with a 94.96 average, two maximums and a 46% checkout success rate.
Three-time European Tour winner Michael Smith delivered an exhibition in scoring as he edged out former Lakeside world champion Christian Kist in a high-quality eleven leg thriller. Smith averaged 99.91, landed six maximums and converted 60% of his darts at double, to set up a tie with James Wade’s conqueror Dimitri van den Bergh.
Alan Norris narrowly avoided his fourth successive defeat on the European Tour, after scraping past Matt Clark in a nervy second-round encounter plagued by missed doubles. The pair spurned 31 darts at doubles between them, with Norris averaging 88.43 and landing two maximums to secure a crucial victory.
Cristo Reyes will face Mensur Suljovic in Sunday’s third-round, after producing a valiant fightback to stun James Richardson. ‘Ruthless’ stormed into a 4-0 advantage, but Reyes capitalised on missed match darts from his opponent to win six of the remaining seven legs; crashing in an incredible seven 180’s and averaging 96.62.
Former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting secured a much-needed confidence boost with victory over emerging left-hander Chris Quantock. ‘The Bullet’ averaged 94.78, registered five maximums and converted 33% of his attempts at double, to set up a tasty third-round tussle against top seed Peter Wright.
Finally, German Darts Open finalist Benito van de Pas eased into round-three with an emphatic win over German youngster Martin Schindler. In truth it was a very scrappy affair, with Van de Pas averaging 83.53, posting three maximums and hitting 50% of his double attempts, to book a third-round showdown with Magnus Caris.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2017 Gibraltar Darts Trophy
Saturday May 13
Cristo Reyes 6-5 James Richardson
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Darren Webster
Alan Norris 6-5 Matt Clark
Benito van de Pas 6-1 Martin Schindler
Stephen Bunting 6-4 Chris Quantock
Magnus Caris 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Michael Smith 6-5 Christian Kist
Rob Cross 6-5 Joe Cullen
Darren Johnson 6-3 Gerwyn Price
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 Alan Tabern
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright 6-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-5 James Wade
James Wilson 6-4 Kim Huybrechts
Ian White 6-3 John Henderson
Simon Whitlock 6-1 Steve Beaton
Sunday May 14
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)
Peter Wright v Stephen Bunting
Darren Johnson v Alan Norris
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Michael Smith
Dave Chisnall v Rob Cross
Mensur Suljovic v Cristo Reyes
Benito van de Pas v Magnus Caris
James Wilson v Ian White
Simon Whitlock v Daryl Gurney
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm BST)
Wright/Bunting v Johnson/Norris
Van den Bergh/Smith v Chisnall/Cross
Suljovic/Reyes v Van de Pas/Caris
Wilson/White v Whitlock/Gurney