German qualifier Kevin Munch caused one of the biggest shocks in World Championship history to dump out two-time world champion Adrian Lewis on an extraordinary night at the Alexandra Palace, as Raymond van Barneveld produced a classy display to kick off his campaign in style on Tuesday evening.
However, in a tournament littered with shocks, Munch caused the biggest one of all to dump out two-time world champion Adrian Lewis in an incredible first-round clash. ‘Jackpot’ won the opening set, but Munch crashed in eight maximums, averaged 93.48 and took out three huge ton-plus checkouts to secure the biggest win of his career.
Earlier in the evening, Munch had come through a preliminary qualifier against Russia’s Aleksandr Oreshkin in straight sets. He dropped just one leg against the unorthodox left-hander, but he produced an inspired performance later in the evening to send shockwaves through the darting world.
The pair exchanged the opening two legs, before Lewis fired in a classy 121 finish to hold throw. The seventh seed then claimed the opening set via D18, before taking out 84 and 80 finishes in successive legs to move to the brink of a 2-0 lead. However, Munch produced a stirring fightback.
He sank D12 to register his second leg, before breaking Lewis’ throw with a tidy 14-darter. Suddenly he was throwing to level up proceedings at one apiece and he held his nerve to pin D5 with his last dart in hand. Yet in the third set, he upped the ante even further.
‘The Dragon’ began set three with six perfect darts, eventually wrapping it up inside 14 darts. Lewis was shell-shocked but there was no stopping an inspired Munch, who conjured up brilliant 158 and 118 checkouts in consecutive legs to secure a 2-1 lead in sets.
The preliminary qualifier had won six consecutive legs and he extended that streak further after Lewis missed two at double to break. The roles were then reversed moments later, as Munch missed three at D18 to break throw, which enabled the Stoke-on-Trent star to stop the rot on D4.
Nevertheless, Munch, roared on by a sizeable German contingent at the Ally Pally, crashed in a brilliant 124 finish on the bullseye to move to the brink of victory. ‘Jackpot’ found D12 to preserve his hopes, but ultimately it was to no avail.
Munch had the advantage of throw and he held his nerve admirably. He fired in successive visits of 140 and 133 and after Lewis was unable to take out 142, he returned to complete a 16-dart hold on D8 and inflict Lewis’ first ever opening-round exit at the World Championship, which sees ‘Jackpot’ fall outside the world’s top 16.
Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld produced an imperious display to kick off his World Championship campaign with a straight sets win over debutant Richard North. The five-time world champion averaged 102, landed three maximums, 17 scores of 140+ and converted 47% of his attempts at double to prevail in comprehensive fashion.
The legendary Dutchman made a blistering start to the contest; averaging 107 to clinch the opening set without reply. He drew first blood with a 16-dart hold via D10, before dispatching a two-dart 64 combination for a 14-dart break. Van Barneveld then piled in his first 180 and effortlessly dispatched an 81 checkout for a 12-dart set clincher.
North opened his account early in set two via D10, but Barney fired straight back with a clinical 71 kill. The Den Haag ace then followed up his first maximum with a vital 76 finish culminating on D18, before a dramatic fourth leg ensued.
North crashed in a brace of maximums to leave D4 after just 12 darts, and he was afforded a break opportunity after Van Barneveld failed to take out 59. However, the Hampshire ace missed three clear darts at double and RvB capitalised; returning to peg tops and double his lead.
The five-time world champ drew first blood in the third via D9, after North missed the bull for a 170 outshot. He squared the set moments later via D2, before Barney regained the lead with a tidy 13-darter. Van Barneveld spurned two match darts in the fourth, but he rectified matters moments later, sinking tops to wrap up the win inside 13 darts.
World Grand Prix semi-finalist John Henderson eased into the second-round with an emphatic straight sets victory over Marko Kantele. ‘The Highlander’ wasn’t at his vintage best but cruised to victory with a 90.09 average, two maximums and a 45% checkout success rate, to set up a second-round showdown against fourth seed Daryl Gurney.
Both players made sluggish starts to the contest, but Henderson won the opening two legs to seize the early initiative. However, Kantele opened his account with a 14-darter and completed a clinical 62 kill to force a set decider, only for ‘The Highlander’ to conjure up a magical 160 checkout out of nowhere to clinch the opening set.
Kantele landed a maximum to kick off set two but Henderson broke via D3, before continuing his dominance with a 72 kill. The Scot then wrapped up the set with an eye-catching 121 finish on the bull and the Finnish star was unable to fight back.
‘Hendo’ continued the procession with a tidy 72 checkout, before Kantele stopped the rot via D4. Despite this, Henderson fired in his second maximum to move to the brink of victory, before landing his favourite tops to wrap up a comprehensive victory.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Tuesday December 19 (7pm)
Aleksandr Oreshkin 0-2 Kevin Munch (P)
John Henderson 3-0 Marko Kantele
Raymond van Barneveld 3-0 Richard North
Adrian Lewis 1-3 Kevin Munch