Michael van Gerwen edged out his fellow countryman Raymond van Barneveld in a thrilling deciding-set tussle to set up a semi-final showdown against Rob Cross, whilst Phil Taylor dumped out Gary Anderson to continue his bid for a 17th World Championship title on an incredible day of quarter-final action at the Alexandra Palace.
However, the stand-out tie saw defending champion Van Gerwen edge out five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld in a titanic tussle. RvB was the last person to defeat MvG on the Ally Pally stage exactly two years ago, but he was left to rue missed doubles as he was edged out in agonising fashion.
Both players struggled in the opening stages, but the pair, facing each-other for the third consecutive World Championship, suddenly sparked into life midway through the third set. There were 18 breaks of throw throughout the match, but Van Gerwen prevailed with a 102.91 average, twelve maximums and a 50% checkout success rate.
Van Barneveld battled valiantly, averaging 98.76, landing six maximums and converting three ton-plus checkouts, but the legendary Dutchman was ultimately punished for missing 28 darts at a double, most of which came in the early exchanges.
The first set was a real bizarre affair, with all five legs going against throw. Barney posted a fine 174 in the decider but squandered three darts at double to draw first blood, but the five-time world champion restored parity at one apiece with a 121 checkout to complete a 12-dart leg.
Van Gerwen’s average was languishing in the low 90’s but Van Barneveld was unable to capitalise; missing two set darts in the third, as the world number one regained the lead. Barney could have been 3-0 ahead and his frustration was compounded as ‘The Green Machine’ produced some classy darts in the fourth to establish a two-set buffer.
MvG kicked off the fifth set with brilliant 11 and 12-dart legs as he appeared poised to move 4-1 ahead. However, Van Barneveld produced 14 and 11-darters of his own to force a set decider with the throw. Van Gerwen left tops after 12 darts, but Barney held his nerve; crashing in a brilliant 101 checkout to pinch the set and reduce the arrears to 3-2.
The world champion fired in an 11-darter in the sixth as he attempted to restore his two-leg cushion, but Barney produced a brilliant 91 finish and took out 121 for the second time in the contest to level up proceedings at three apiece. Van Gerwen bounced straight back to take the seventh set and close in on victory, but the drama continued.
With the scores locked at 2-2 in the eighth set, MvG was throwing for the match. He left 98 after just 9 darts but missed one match dart at D12, which allowed Van Barneveld to follow up visits of 137, 140 and 140 with a nerveless 84 finish culminating on D11 to force a ninth and deciding set.
It was an astonishing leg under pressure from Barney and he edged ahead in the decider via D8, but the pivotal moment came in the third leg of the set. RvB wired three darts at D16 to hold which proved expensive, as Van Gerwen broke throw with a clinical 96 checkout, before taking out 80 moments later to round-off the win inside 15 darts.
Van Gerwen could face Phil Taylor in the final, after ‘The Power’ continued his bid for a fairy-tale farewell with a 5-3 win over two-time world champion Gary Anderson. The Scot had been plagued by a back problem in the lead up to the contest and he was sent packing by a clinical Taylor, who rolled back the years to triumph with a 102.02 average.
The 16-time world champion drew first blood with a fine 120 checkout to clinch the opening set, but Anderson responded strongly; winning a vital second-set decider inside 12 darts, courtesy of an effortless 101 outshot.
Taylor clinched the third set without reply, before Anderson relinquished a 2-0 advantage in the fourth. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ seemed destined to level the match at two sets apiece, but the Stoke-on-Trent veteran reeled off six consecutive legs to seal total control at 4-1; wrapping up the set with a 100 finish to complete a 12-dart hold.
The third seed fought back valiantly in the sixth set, hammering home a 115 outshot en route to reducing the arrears to 4-2, before a dramatic seventh set ensued. Taylor followed up a brilliant 177 with a sublime 126 checkout on the bull to break which presented him with the opportunity to throw for victory.
‘The Power’ kicked off with a maximum but Anderson replied in kind, dispatching a nerveless 81 kill to drag another set back. Suddenly Taylor was under pressure and he missed a match dart at tops for a 129 finish, but ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was unable to force a final set, as the 57-year-old pegged D10 to seal his progression to the last four.
Rob Cross is bidding to become the first man since Raymond van Barneveld in 2007 to win the PDC World Championship on his debut, after fending off an inspired fightback from World Youth champion Dimitri van den Bergh to triumph in a dramatic ninth and final set.
Cross led 4-1 at one stage and appeared on the cusp of a comprehensive victory, but Van den Bergh won ten of the next 13 legs to draw level, only for ‘Voltage’ to respond and seal victory with a 97.13 average, eleven maximums and a 38% checkout conversion rate, as Van den Bergh lost out despite averaging 98.60 and landing thirteen 180’s.
However, it was an incredible fightback from ‘The Dream-Maker’, who came agonisingly close to reaching the last four. Trailing 4-1, Van den Bergh crashed in eight maximums in eleven legs and dispatched a sublime 134 checkout en route to levelling the tie at 4-4.
The Belgian then sealed the lead for the very first time in the final set, before missing D16 for a spectacular 132 (Bull, Bull, D16) finish. Cross maintained his composure to regain the advantage with clinical 81 and 89 finishes, before overcoming finishing-line fever to prevail on D1, after Van den Bergh had spurned five darts at double to stay alive.
Elsewhere, Jamie Lewis continued his sensational story at the William Hill World Championship with a stunning 5-0 whitewash win over Darren Webster. The 26-year-old produced another remarkable display to dismantle ‘The Demolition Man’, averaging 101.26 and firing in 14 maximums to storm into the semi-finals.
The Welshman only qualified for this tournament by virtue of winning the 3rd place play-off in the PDPA World Championship qualifier last month, but now he’s two wins away from being crowned world champion.
‘Fireball’ wrapped up the first set 3-1 with a tidy 13-darter, before claiming the second set without reply, culminating with a clinical 71 checkout. Lewis then crashed in four maximums in as many legs to clinch a high-quality third set, before maintaining his prolific scoring to establish a commanding 4-0 cushion.
Lewis kicked off the fifth set with a brace of maximums but missed D16 to pinch it and Webster converted a clinical 81 kill on the bull to halt the Welshman’s charge. Lewis delivered a fine 12-dart riposte before the next two legs were shared, but Webster missed a dart at tops to reduce the arrears to 4-1 and Lewis found D6 to triumph.
Photo Credit: VI Images
William Hill World Darts Championship
Friday December 29
Jamie Lewis 5-0 Darren Webster
Dimitri Van den Bergh 4-5 Rob Cross
Michael van Gerwen 5-4 Raymond van Barneveld
Phil Taylor 5-3 Gary Anderson
Saturday December 30 (7.30pm)
Jamie Lewis v Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Best of 11 sets