Two-time world champion Gary Anderson stormed into the second-round of the World Championship with a comprehensive straight sets win over Lakeside finalist Jeff Smith, as four seeds were dumped out on a dramatic double-session of action at the Alexandra Palace on Saturday.
Gary Anderson underlined his title credentials with an impressive straight sets win over 2016 Lakeside finalist Jeff Smith. The two-time world champion scored sublimely and averaged 131.93 in an incredible second set, dropping just two legs across the match to triumph with a 100.93 average and seven maximums.
Earlier in the night, Smith produced an exhibition of finishing to defeat Development Tour winner Luke Humphries. The Canadian averaged 95.39 and converted an astonishing 86% of his double attempts; recording finishes of 170, 82, 106, 78, 126 and 74 to record a straight sets win, but he couldn’t replicate this display against the Scot.
The first set was a relatively scrappy affair. Although Anderson landed two maximums, he missed seven darts at double and averaged just 83, but he still clinched it without reply, with Smith averaging a poultry 68. Nevertheless, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ ran riot in an astonishing second set.
He kicked off with six perfect darts and found D8 for a sublime 10-darter, before wiring the bull for a 170 outshot moments later. Smith sank D9 to open his account, but Anderson followed up visits of 177 and 180 with an 11-darter, before firing in his sixth maximum and converting a clinical 82 kill for a 12-dart set clincher.
Anderson squandered a number of darts at double in a scrappy start to set three, but it was soon a case of normal service resumed. He piled in his seventh maximum and pegged tops for a 14-darter and then hit the same target to complete a 13-darter and move to the brink of victory.
The world number three then crashed in a spectacular 177 and although he endured some late double-trouble, he pinned D3 with his fifth match dart to seal his emphatic progression through to round-two.
Jan Dekker produced a clinical display of finishing to dump out former Lakeside world champion Jelle Klaasen. ‘The Cobra’ stormed to the first set in a matter of minutes, but Dekker responded magnificently and closed out an impressive 3-1 win with a 95.74 average, two maximums and a 64% checkout conversion rate.
Klaasen made a blistering start to the contest, kicking off proceedings with an 11-dart opening salvo and claiming the opening set with a 107 average. The pair exchanged holds of throw early in set two, before Dekker produced two vital 100 and 64 finishes to restore parity at one apiece.
The third set saw an exhibition in finishing from both players. Dekker continued his charge with a brilliant 128 checkout (T20, T20, D4), before Klaasen squared the set with an important 101 finish. However, ‘Double Dekker’ regained the initiative with a nerveless 120 kill, before effortlessly cleaning up a 74 checkout to lead 2-1 in sets.
The opening three legs of the fourth set went with throw, as ‘The Cobra’ appeared poised to force a fifth and final set, but he wilted under the pressure. He followed up his fourth maximum by squandering five darts for the set and Dekker pounced; landing D16 to force a set decider, which he duly clinched with a brilliant 13-darter culminating on D16.
Jermaine Wattimena survived four match darts to dump out 19th seed Joe Cullen in one of the most entertaining first-round matches ever seen at the Alexandra Palace. The contest was played at a blistering pace, but ‘The Machine Gun’ prevailed with a 96.83 average and a 43% checkout success rate after surviving four match darts in the final set.
The opening two sets were incredibly completed within eight minutes. Wattimena rattled off the first set without reply, but Cullen delivered a fine riposte; taking out finishes of 135 and 74 to restore parity at one apiece.
The third set was a more tightly-contested affair, with Cullen following up a 111 finish from Wattimena with a 13-darter of his own. The Dutchman closed out the third set with a nerveless 70 finish, but ‘The Rockstar’ responded superbly, following up a 15-dart hold with successive bullseye finishes on 130 and 84 to force a fifth and final set.
Cullen drew first blood in the decider with a tidy 79 finish, but Wattimena fought back; conjuring up an inspired 141 finish to level. The Yorkshireman regained the lead with a 14-darter but then spurned four match darts in a dramatic fourth leg, as the Dutchman registered consecutive finishes of 70 and 64 to clinch the biggest win of his career.
Steve West secured his first ever World Championship win with a fine victory over 14th seed Benito van de Pas. West appeared poised to seal a straight sets win, until ‘Big Ben’ fired in a stunning 124 skin-saver on the bull. However, West held his nerve; averaging 95.97, landing four 180’s and converting 39% of his attempts at double to prevail 3-1.
The Waltham Abbey ace stormed to the first set without reply, following up finishes of 100 and 78 by pinning D9. The second set was a dramatic affair, with Van de Pas firing in a stunning 122 checkout with West sat on a double to move 2-0 ahead, but he eventually extended his lead on D12, after the Dutchman missed one dart at D16 to level.
West led 2-0 against Mervyn King in last year’s first-round and was sat on a double for a 3-0 win, until King crashed in a stunning 136 finish to stay alive. History appeared to be repeating itself as the Englishman left tops after 12 darts to move to the brink, only for ‘Big Ben’ to conjure up an inspired 124 kill on the bull to halve the deficit.
Nevertheless, West showed admirable resolve in a high-quality fourth set. He drew first blood with a 106 outshot, before completing a tidy 14-darter to move to within a leg of victory. This time Van de Pas was unable to produce any heroics as West sealed his progression in style; with a sublime 141 finish.
Zoran Lerchbacher reeled off eight consecutive legs to dump out an injured Mervyn King in a dramatic last-set decider. King led 2-0 and appeared in cruise control, but a blown bulb on stage caused play to be temporarily suspended and upon resumption, King was plagued by his notorious back problems.
The Norfolk veteran claimed a scrappy opening set after Lerchbacher missed two set darts, and King extended his lead in sets by following up his first maximum with a classy 13-dart hold to move 2-0 ahead. However, early in the third, play was suspended due to a blown bulb on stage and upon resumption, we saw a dramatic turn-around.
The opening two legs of set three were shared, before Lerchbacher established total control; reeling off five straight legs with finishes of 76, 107 and 72 to force a final set. King had prevailed in last-set deciders in his two previous first-round appearances at the Ally Pally, but it was third time unlucky for him on this occasion.
The Austrian had the momentum and produced a stunning final set to triumph, taking out 96 for a 12-dart opening salvo, before completing a 76 kill for a 15-dart break of throw. King looked resigned to his fate and he was soon put out of his misery, as Lerchbacher fired in a 13-darter to prevail with a solid 92.09 average.
Robert Thornton defied five ton-plus checkouts from Brendan Dolan to book his place in round-two. Dolan defeated Croatia’s Alan Ljubic 2-0 in the preliminary qualifier and produced a stunning display of finishing against ‘The Thorn’, but the Scot averaged 98.67, landed six 180’s and converted 60% of his attempts at double to triumph 3-1.
Thornton won a high-quality opening set with a 113.76 average; following up his first maximum with a two-dart 90 combination for an 11-dart break of throw. However, Dolan responded magnificently; firing in three successive ton-plus finishes of 126, 104 and 100 to clinch the set without reply and restore parity at one apiece.
Dolan extended his stunning sequence of finishing with a 107 outshot for a fourth successive ton-plus checkout, but Thornton wasn’t to be outdone; replying with a classy 144 kill. The pair then traded breaks of throw, before the Scot crashed in his fourth maximum and sank D12 for a 13-dart break of throw to regain the initiative.
The pair exchanged holds early in set four, before the two-time PDC major winner kicked off leg three with six perfect darts; rounding-off a 12-dart hold with an assured 75 finish. Dolan found D8 to preserve his hopes, but Thornton wasn’t to be denied; piling in a nerveless 13-darter to cap off an extremely impressive display.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
William Hill World Darts Championship
Saturday December 16
Afternoon Session (12.30pm)
Brendan Dolan 2-0 Alan Ljubic (P)
Benito van de Pas 1-3 Steve West
Mervyn King 2-3 Zoran Lerchbacher
Robert Thornton 3-1 Brendan Dolan
Evening Session (7pm)
Jeff Smith 2-0 Luke Humphries (P)
Joe Cullen 2-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Jelle Klaasen 1-3 Jan Dekker
Gary Anderson 3-0 Jeff Smith