Former Lakeside world champion Scott Mitchell edged out Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas in a five-set thriller on the opening day of the 2018 BDO World Championship, as three-time world champion Martin Adams was beaten in a sudden-death leg by second seed Mark McGeeney at the Lakeside on Saturday afternoon.
However, 2015 champion Mitchell edged out Darius Labanauskas in a five-set epic in the match of the opening day at Frimley Green. Both men crashed in five maximums, but Mitchell produced a stunning display in the final set to triumph with a 98.70 average, as Labanauskas was dumped out despite averaging a very impressive 99.08.
The contest got off to a blistering start, with Labanauskas clinching the opening set with an incredible 113 average. The opening four legs all went with throw, but the Lithuanian stole a march in the decider; pegging D8 for a 14-dart break, having missed the bull for a 170 outshot in the preceding visit.
Labanauskas then kicked off the second with a 14-dart hold, but Mitchell reeled off three legs on the spin to level proceedings, aided with clinical 116 and 80 checkouts. The 2015 winner then extended his winning sequence to five legs to seal command of the third, defying a 14-darter from Labanauskas to eventually find D1 and lead 2-1.
‘Lucky D’ hit the front in set four with another 14-darter, but Mitchell followed up a clinical 110 finish with a brilliant 12-dart break culminating with an 81 checkout. ‘Scotty-Dog’ had the throw for victory but couldn’t close it out, with the Latvia Open winner dispatching a 96 kill before pegging D12 to force a fifth and deciding set.
However, when it came to the crunch, Mitchell delivered some dazzling darts. He secured an important hold on tops after Labanauskas had wired D18 for a 115 checkout, before capping off a fantastic win with legs of 12 and 11 darts, both of which culminated in 81 checkouts.
Elsewhere, Mark McGeeney edged into round-two after defeating three-time winner Martin Adams in a sudden-death decider to open up this year’s tournament. It was a topsy-turvy tussle, but the second seed held his nerve to triumph with an 86.19 average and two maximums, as Adams’ 25th Lakeside appearance culminated in an early exit.
‘The Gladiator’ converted 75% of his attempts at double to clinch the opening set without reply, after Adams was punished for missing key doubles. McGeeney won his fourth consecutive leg to hit the front in set two, but ‘Wolfie’ responded strongly; reeling off three straight legs of his own, including two 13-darters, to restore parity at one apiece.
McGeeney fired in a fine 103 checkout in the following set as he regained the initiative by again clinching a set to nil, but the three-time Lakeside champion fought back impressively, firing in a 14-darter en route to clinching the fourth set without riposte as the roles were reversed.
McGeeney hit the front in the decider with a fine 13-darter, but the 61-year-old levelled before producing a nerveless 86 finish to break throw, but he was unable to close out victory. McGeeney capitalised and edged 4-3 ahead, but Adams held his nerve admirably to sink a vital 97 kill to stay alive.
The Stockport ace then wrestled back the advantage with a clinical 80 finish, but Adams completed a nerveless 76 outshot to force a sudden-death leg. The three-time Lakeside champion won the bullseye for the advantage of throw but struggled in the scoring stakes, as McGeeney defied some finishing-line nerves to prevail on tops.
Last year’s finalist Danny Noppert overcame personal tragedy to defeat American qualifier Joe Chaney 3-0 in the preliminary round. Noppert, who won the Finder Darts Masters last month, tragically lost his mother on New Year’s Eve, but showed immense courage to get up on stage and produce a fine display.
‘Noppie’ kicked off proceedings with 16 and 15-dart legs, before missing six at double for the set. This enabled Chaney to open his account on D10, but the Dutchman kicked off the next leg with five perfect darts; wrapping up the opener inside 14 darts.
Noppert then recorded stunning 121 and 126 finishes to clinch the second set without reply, before kicking off the third set with 14 and 13-dart legs. The 27-year-old appeared in cruise control but wobbled slightly in the closing stages. Chaney sank D4 to stay alive after Noppert missed match darts, before the drama continued.
The Dutchman missed further match darts after almost pegging a 161 kill for victory, which enabled Chaney to force a decider with a fine 68 outshot. The American then missed tops for a 113 finish which would have halved the deficit, but Noppert regained his composure to close out the win on tops, to prevail with a solid 94.89 average.
Dutch star Willem Mandigers produced an impressive performance to breeze through to the second-round with a straight sets win over Welshman Nick Kenny. Mandigers averaged 89.58 and fired in three maximums en route to victory, which sets up a potential last 16 showdown against his compatriot Wesley Harms.
Mandigers raced into a two-leg lead in the opening set with fine 14 and 15-dart legs, before Kenny opened his account via D4. The Dutchman then pegged D8 to round-off the opening set, before Kenny found D10 to draw first blood in the second.
The pair then traded 13-dart holds, before Mandigers forced a set decider via tops, having missed the same target for a 160 outshot in the preceding visit. However, the tenth seed then produced a moment of magic to double his lead, converting a 90 kill on the bullseye to cap off a 15-dart leg.
The third set was once again a tightly contested affair, with the pair again battling it out in a fifth and final leg. Nevertheless, Mandigers’ ability to produce his best darts under pressure had been the decisive factor thus far and that pattern continued as the Eindhoven ace rattled in a classy 13-dart leg via D8 to record an emphatic 3-0 victory.
Lakeside veteran Gary Robson will take on defending champion Glen Durrant in the first-round, after defeating Brunei’s Pengiran Mohamed 3-0 in the afternoon’s preliminary tussle. ‘Big Robbo’ dropped just one leg en route to victory, averaging 84.72 and taking out two ton-plus finishes to mark his Lakeside return with a win.
Robson missed out on last year’s event for the first time in 15 years, but he made a strong start, opening up a 2-0 lead courtesy of a 15-dart break. Mohamed opened his account with a regulation 60 checkout, but the Northumberland ace sealed the opening set with a classy 13-darter.
The former World Trophy winner then fired in brilliant 118 and 158 finishes in successive legs to seal command of the second, which he duly wrapped up inside 15 darts. Robson was comfortably outplaying the Brunei debutant and he clinched the third and final set without reply to set up a showdown against world number one Durrant.
Elsewhere, Australian qualifier Justin Thompson survived EIGHT match darts in his preliminary tie against Northern Irish debutant Chris Gilliland, to set up a first-round tussle against former World Trophy winner Darryl Fitton.
Thompson won a hard-fought opening set, but Gilliland responded strongly, winning the next two sets courtesy of fifth and final legs to establish a 2-1 cushion. The Northern Irish ace appeared to be closing in on a 3-1 win but then the nerves took over, as he squandered eight match darts midway through the fourth set.
Thompson took full advantage of this unlikely reprieve to force a fifth and final set and raced into victory in the decider. He drew first blood with a classy 75 kill and Gilliland was unable to respond. The Australian closed out the final set in three straight legs, sealing his progression on D10 with a modest 81.57 average.
In the women’s section, defending champion Lisa Ashton kicked off her title defence with a straight sets win over Wales’ Rhian Griffiths on Saturday afternoon. The three-time world champion struggled in the opening exchanges but turned on the style to prevail with a 77.76 average.
Griffiths opened up an early 2-0 lead in the first set, but a bespectacled Ashton responded superbly. After some early double-trouble, ‘The Lancashire Rose’ reeled off six straight legs to triumph, recording finishes of 82, 80 and 101 to set up a last eight clash against either last year’s runner-up Corrine Hammond or 2015 finalist Fallon Sherrock.
Top seed Deta Hedman began her campaign with a comprehensive straight sets victory over Norway’s Rachna David. Hedman is the most successful player in the history of the women’s game but the Lakeside world title has eluded her thus far. Nevertheless, she breezed through to the quarter-finals for the loss of just one leg.
It was far from a classic, as the three-time Lakeside runner-up averaged 66.96 and converted 30% of her attempts at double, punishing David’s miserly 6% checkout conversion rate. However, she will now take on either Sharon Prins or Maria O’Brien for a place in the semi-finals.
Photo Credit: Getty
BDO World Championship
Saturday January 6
Afternoon Session (1pm)
Mark McGeeney 3-2 Martin Adams
Willem Mandigers 3-0 Nick Kenny
Lisa Ashton 2-0 Rhian Griffiths
Pengiran Mohamed 0-3 Gary Robson (P)
Evening Session (7pm)
Justin Thompson 3-2 Chris Gilliland (P)
Deta Hedman 2-0 Rachna David
Joe Chaney 0-3 Danny Noppert (P)
Scott Mitchell 3-2 Darius Labanauskas