Paul Lim rolled back the years to record a sensational 3-2 victory over former Lakeside world champion Mark Webster at the World Darts Championship, as Daryl Gurney and Mensur Suljovic also sealed their progression on a thrilling night of action at the Alexandra Palace on Monday evening.
Gurney and Suljovic were the main attractions on Monday night, but the story of the night undoubtedly belonged to 63-year-old legend Paul Lim, who marked his 22nd World Championship appearance with a shock win over former Lakeside champion Mark Webster.
‘The Singapore Slinger’ hit the very first World Championship nine-darter way back in 1990, but he once again wrote his name into the history books to become the oldest winner on the Alexandra Palace stage after producing a vintage display of darts.
He was forced to come through a preliminary tie earlier in the evening to set up his first-round clash against Webster. Lim defeated Hong Kong qualifier Kai Fan Leung in straight sets, averaging 86.25 and piling in four maximums to triumph.
However, he upped the ante considerably later in the night. Lim averaged 95.98, landed six maximums and converted 46% of his attempts at double to triumph in a dramatic last-set decider, to set up a second-round showdown against third seed and two-time world champion Gary Anderson.
Webster won a tightly contested opening set, despite missing six darts at double. However, Lim was unable to punish him and the Welshman eventually sank D6 to draw first blood. ‘Spider’ then kicked off the second set with a majestic 10-dart leg but Lim responded magnificently; following up a 13-darter with his fourth 180 and a 64 kill.
‘Webby’ forced another set decider with a 13-darter of his own, but Lim restored parity at one apiece via D10, after Webster was unable to take out 160. The third set was another compelling affair. The first four legs all went with throw, before Lim crashed in his sixth maximum and found tops for a 13-dart leg to secure a 2-1 lead in sets.
The Singapore star was scoring prolifically and piled on the pain for Webster with an 80 outshot. He then pegged D8 to move within a leg of victory after the former Lakeside world champion spurned three darts at tops, and he seemed poised to close out a stunning triumph.
However, after leaving 90 after just 9 darts in the following leg, Lim missed one match dart at D15 and Webster ruthlessly pounced. He dispatched a nerveless 77 finish to stay alive, pinned D10 to break throw, before defying a partisan Ally Pally crowd to sink D16 and force a fifth and final set.
The momentum was with the Welshman, but Lim’s Barmy-Army roared him onto a magical victory as Webster crumbled. The 63-year-old converted a fine two-dart 89 combination to hit the front, which he followed up with a clinical 114 kill.
Lim’s lethal combination finishing had been a feature of his performance in both his preliminary tie and his first-round clash and that pattern continued in the final leg. Webster was unable to muster the requisite trebles and Lim held his nerve to dispatch an 80 checkout on tops to seal his incredible progression.
Elsewhere, fourth seed Daryl Gurney produced an impressive display to defeat Belgian veteran Ronny Huybrechts. ‘Super-Chin’ made a blistering start to the contest and was averaging 109 after two sets, before he survived a mini-fightback from ‘The Rebel’ to triumph with a 100.51 average, seven maximums and a 45% checkout success rate.
The World Grand Prix champion kicked off the match with a sublime 10-dart leg after teasing us with the tantalising prospect of an opening nine-dart salvo. However, Huybrechts registered brilliant legs of 13 and 11-darters to turn the set on its head.
Gurney responded with back-to-back 140’s and found D6 to break straight back and force a decider, before capping off the best set of the tournament with a brilliant 12-dart leg, having pinned D18 with his last dart in hand.
The Northern Irishman drew first blood in set two after landing his fourth maximum and capitalising on four missed darts from ‘The Rebel’, before registering his fourth leg on the spin courtesy of a 14-darter. Huybrechts had no answer to Gurney’s brilliance and ‘Super-Chin’ followed up a brace of maximums with a 13-dart leg to double his lead.
The world number four won his sixth straight leg to kick off the third set, but Ronny stopped the rot via D16, before exploiting some uncharacteristic profligacy from Gurney to break via D5. This gave the Belgian an opportunity to halve the deficit and he made no mistake; dispatching a two-dart 64 combination to round-off a 14-dart hold.
Huybrechts was rejuvenated and left D16 after 12 darts as he attempted to secure a fourth straight leg. However, Gurney dealt him a hammer blow; conjuring up an inspired 170 finish to break. He then hit D10 to move to the cusp of victory and although ‘The Rebel’ took out 112 to stay alive, ‘Super-Chin’ wrapped up the win inside 14 darts.
Finally, Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic breezed into round-two with a comprehensive straight sets victory over 2004 world finalist Kevin Painter. It wasn’t a vintage display from the fifth seed, but he produced the goods when necessary to prevail with a 93.03 average and a 38% checkout conversion rate.
Suljovic drew first blood on D10 in a scrappy opener, before doubling his lead on D5, having missed tops for a 160 outshot in the preceding visit. Painter was being completely outscored and failed to register a dart at double in the opening set, as the Austrian claimed the set to nil courtesy of a 13-dart hold.
‘The Gentle’ pegged D14 to record his fourth straight leg, but Painter finally opened his account on D4 for an instant break back. However, ‘The Artist’ then squandered two darts at D8 for a 76 outshot, which allowed Suljovic to record a third straight break of throw with a 13-darter culminating on his favourite D14.
Painter crashed in a brace of maximums in a desperate bid to keep the set alive, but he wasn’t even afforded a dart for the leg, as Suljovic converted a clinical 72 kill via D16 for a 15-dart hold. The world number five was attacked by a wasp in the early stages of set three, but he stung Painter by sinking D3 for yet another break of throw.
The Austrian continued the procession by following up a brilliant visit of 171 with a 13-darter via D16, but the 2004 world finalist preserved his hopes with a two-dart 88 combination after Suljovic spurned three match darts. Nevertheless, this simply delayed the inevitable, as the Darts-Control ace closed out victory with a 13-darter on tops.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018 PDC WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP
First Round – Best of five sets
Kai Fan Leung 0-2 Paul Lim (P)
Mensur Suljovic 3-0 Kevin Painter
Daryl Gurney 3-1 Ronny Huybrechts
Mark Webster 2-3 Paul Lim