European Championship: Quarter-Finals Report!

Gurney Wright EC17.jpg

Daryl Gurney continued his magnificent form to dump out second seed Peter Wright in Belgium, whilst Michael van Gerwen maintained his bid for a fourth straight European Championship title with a convincing win over Simon Whitlock in Hasselt on Sunday afternoon.

Gurney remains on course to secure successive major titles after dumping out second seed Peter Wright in a dramatic quarter-final tussle. Gurney stormed into a 5-0 lead at the first interval, but Snakebite roared back to win four of the next five legs, only for the Northern Irishman to fend off the fightback and triumph in convincing fashion.

Wright missed his first nine attempts at double and was ruthlessly punished by a clinical ‘Super-Chin’. Wright averaged 101.83 to Gurney’s 95.56, with the pair both registering five maximums, but the finishing was the decisive factor. Gurney converted 53% of his attempts at double, compared to Snakebite’s poultry 28% checkout conversion rate.

The World Grand Prix champion made a fine start to the contest; dispatching finishes of 100 and 72 to lead 2-0. Wright then missed five darts at double to open his account in the third leg as Gurney extended his lead via D10, before he converted a clinical 78 outshot to maintain his flawless finishing.

The Northern Irishman continued the procession with his second maximum and a 13-darter for a 5-0 lead, but Wright finally opened his account via D8. ‘Super-Chin’ restored his commanding cushion after the pair traded maximums, but out of nowhere, the UK Open champion enjoyed a stunning surge to storm back into contention.

The world number two piled in four maximums inside two legs to register successive 11-darters and reduce the deficit to 6-3, before capitalising on a missed dart at D16 from Gurney to peg tops and clinch his third leg on the spin. However, the break appeared to come at the right time for ‘Super-Chin’, as it quashed Wright’s momentum.

‘Snakebite’ missed a dart at tops for 6-5 and Gurney followed up his third 180 by pinning D10 for an important hold, before he rounded off a 14-darter to lead 8-4, having missed the bull for a 164 outshot in the preceding visit.

The World Grand Prix champion followed up his fourth 180 by again nailing D10 to move to the cusp of victory, and although Wright preserved his slender hopes with a tidy 13-darter, he was unable to produce further comeback heroics. He bust a 64 finish and Gurney duly pounced; dispatching D8 to move into his fourth major semi-final this year.

The Northern Irishman, who has moved up to fourth on the PDC Order of Merit following his exploits in Hasselt, will take on Rob Cross for a place in the final. The former electrician produced a sparkling display to dismantle third seed Michael Smith and reach his first ever major TV semi-final.

‘Voltage’ was mightily impressive against an off-colour Smith, averaging 100.85, piling in five maximums and converting 56% of his attempts at double, as ‘Bully-Boy’ failed to conjure up his trademark prolific scoring; averaging 92.22 and posting just the solitary maximum.

Cross drew first blood with a fine 73 checkout, before Smith found D10 to draw level. The former Challenge Tour star then fired in maximums in each of the next two legs; recording 14 and 15-dart legs to lead 3-1, only for Smith to break back on tops after Cross squandered four darts for a 4-1 cushion.

The former World-Youth champion made the most of his good fortune and restored parity at three apiece with an impressive 76 outshot, until Cross enjoyed a magnificent mid-game surge to seize total control of proceedings. He rattled in brilliant 116 and 85 finishes to move 5-3 up, before converting a 13-darter via D14 to stretch his lead further.

Apart from a minor blip in the fifth leg, the Hastings ace had finished sublimely and that pattern continued in the tenth leg, as he followed up his fourth maximum with a 130 checkout for a 12-darter. Cross then conjured up a two-dart 84 combination to continue the procession, until Smith stopped the rot with a classy 13-dart leg.

Nevertheless, this did not provide the St Helen’s ace with the required spark to launch an unlikely fightback. Cross- seeded sixth in Belgium, continued his clinical finishing with a nerveless 69 kill, before capitalising on three missed darts at double from a beleaguered Smith to peg D16 and round-off a comprehensive triumph.

Elsewhere, Michael van Gerwen continued his bid for a fourth consecutive European Championship title with a convincing 10-5 victory over 2012 champion Simon Whitlock. ‘The Green Machine’ wasn’t at his vintage best, but still impressed; averaging 100.80, landing three 180’s and converting 40% of double attempts.

The opening two legs went with throw, before the world number one converted clinical 84 and 72 finishes to establish some early daylight. Whitlock was struggling in the opening exchanges and was punished for missing one dart at D16 as Van Gerwen found D6 to lead 4-1 at the first interval.

The Dutchman recorded his fourth straight leg by virtue of a 74 finish, but ‘The Wizard’ stopped the rot after Van Gerwen spurned six darts at double for a 6-1 lead. However, it was then a case of normal service resumed for MvG, who defied Whitlock’s first maximum by pinning D14 for a 6-2 lead.

The defending champion extended his lead to 8-2, but the Australian managed to add some respectability to the scoreline after the second interval. The recent World Grand Prix finalist hit D1 to record his third leg, before dispatching an unorthodox two-dart 84 combination (Bull, D17) to cut the deficit to 8-4.

Van Gerwen responded by thrilling the Hasselt crowd with a majestic 170 outshot to move to the brink of a semi-final spot, but Whitlock pegged a 72 kill (D18, 18, D9) to stay in contention. However, ‘Mighty Mike’ halted the Aussie’s resistance to seal his emphatic progression with a 15-dart hold culminating on tops.

Van Gerwen will now take on Kyle Anderson, who sealed a place in his first ranking major semi-final with an impressive 10-7 victory over Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic. Anderson averaged 95.57, landed seven maximums and converted 45% of his attempts at double to defeat his stablemate in a hard-fought affair.

Suljovic drew first blood with a two-dart 64 kill, but Anderson levelled with a sublime 11-darter before nailing a classy 83 finish on the bullseye to break throw. The next two legs were shared, before ‘The Original’ fired in his third maximum and found D16 to move 4-2 in front.

Suljovic responded to cut the deficit to the solitary leg, but Anderson crashed in an effortless 116 checkout to restore his two-leg lead, before following up his fourth maximum by converting D2 to stretch his lead. Nevertheless, Suljovic delivered an instant riposte; dispatching a 95 kill for a 12-darter to reduce the arrears to 6-4.

‘The Gentle’ was struggling to produce his best but displayed his typical resolve to level up the contest. He landed his second maximum and picked out D8 to hold, before clinically converting a two-dart 79 combination to make it six apiece. However, with the Austrian threatening to turn the contest on its head, Anderson responded tremendously.

The Australian pegged a brilliant 130 checkout on the bullseye to regain the initiative, which he then followed with a fine 120 finish for an 8-6 lead. Suljovic pinned D10 to move within a leg of his stablemate, but Anderson completed a 15-dart hold on tops, before overcoming finishing-line nerves to sink D2 and seal his place in the last four.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Unibet European Championship
Sunday October 29
Afternoon Session (1.45pm local time, 12.45pm UK time)
Quarter-Finals

Michael van Gerwen 10-5 Simon Whitlock
Kyle Anderson 10-7 Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright 5-10 Daryl Gurney
Rob Cross 10-4 Michael Smith
Best of 19 legs

Evening Session (8pm local time, 7pm UK time)
Semi-Finals

Michael van Gerwen v Kyle Anderson
Daryl Gurney v Rob Cross
Best of 21 legs

Final
Best of 21 legs

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