Michael van Gerwen produced an extraordinary performance to set up a semi-final showdown with Gary Anderson at the Unibet Masters on Sunday, whilst Raymond van Barneveld and Mensur Suljovic caused upsets to dump out Peter Wright and Rob Cross respectively on a dramatic afternoon of quarter-final action in Milton Keynes.
Michael van Gerwen remains on course for a fourth consecutive Masters crown after recording a 10-2 rout of James Wade. Van Gerwen raced into an 8-0 lead and appeared on the verge of a whitewash and although Wade avoided that indignity, an imperious MvG triumphed with a 111.14 average, three 180’s and a 77% checkout success rate.
Van Gerwen was in merciless mood from the outset, winning the opening five legs in a total of just 66 darts. He drew first blood with a tidy 70 finish, before registering legs of 13, 11, 14 and 13 darts to lead 5-0 at the break. However, the world number one showed no signs of relenting.
He kicked off the sixth leg with back-to-back maximums en route to an 81 finish for a 12-darter, before stretching his lead further with a majestic 11-dart leg. The procession continued as Van Gerwen fired in a 177 and completed a 14-darter to establish an 8-0 cushion, as Wade incredibly was yet to have been afforded a dart at double.
‘The Machine’ responded to avoid the indignity of a whitewash. He hammered in a brilliant 121 finish on the bull to open his account, which he backed up with a fine 13-dart hold on tops. Yet that only delayed the inevitable, as MvG followed up a 14-darter by dispatching a two-dart 86 combination to claim his 14th straight victory at the Masters.
Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld stormed into the semi-finals after rolling back the years to demolish second seed Peter Wright 10-2. The five-time world champion was at his vintage best; averaging 103.51, landing five maximums, converting three ton-plus checkouts and boasting a brilliant 63% checkout conversion rate.
Van Barneveld secured an instant break of throw via D9 after Wright missed three darts at double and this proved to be an extremely expensive error. Barney doubled his lead with a sublime double-double 96 finish (S20, D20, D18) before running riot to seize total control.
The Dutchman registered three successive 12-dart legs with brilliant 81, 121 and 126 finishes to establish a 5-0 lead at the first interval. RvB was averaging in excess of 110 and ‘Snakebite’ was shell-shocked.
Van Barneveld continued the procession with a 14-darter via D8 to secure his sixth straight leg, but Wright finally opened his account after following up his third maximum with a clinical 91 checkout to complete a 12-dart hold. The next two legs were then shared, before RvB crashed in a brace of maximums and found D16 to move 8-2 ahead.
Wright continued to battle valiantly but he was unable to defy Van Barneveld’s brilliance. The Den Haag ace rattled in his fourth maximum and dispatched a 116 checkout for his fourth 12-darter of the match to move to within a leg of victory, before following his fifth 180 with an effortless two-dart 78 combination to seal his progression.
Van Barneveld will now meet Mensur Suljovic for a place in the final, after ‘The Gentle’ produced a terrific display to dump out world champion Rob Cross 10-8. Suljovic reeled off five straight legs as he came from 5-3 down to take control, before closing out victory with a 101.40 average, four ton-plus checkouts and a 50% doubling success rate.
Cross had won his previous four meetings with last year’s Champions League of Darts winner, but he was punished for converting just 33% of his attempts at double, despite averaging 99 and piling in six maximums.
The pair exchanged holds of throw to kick off proceedings, before Cross produced back-to-back 14-darters to lead 3-1. Suljovic then dispatched a classy 121 finish for a 12-dart break, before restoring parity at three apiece after ‘Voltage’ squandered two darts at double.
The world champion regained his two-leg buffer after some uncharacteristic profligacy from Suljovic, but the Austrian responded superbly. He dispatched 120 and 78 outshots in consecutive legs to level up at 5-5, before securing the lead for the first time with a 13-dart break of throw via D14.
Suljovic continued his clinical finishing to hold throw with a 112 checkout, before claiming his fifth successive leg with a 14-darter on tops. Cross reduced the arrears to 8-7 with back-to-back 13-darters, but ‘The Gentle’ remained unfazed; firing in his first maximum and picking out D10 for a 13-darter of his own to move to the brink of victory.
Suljovic almost triumphed in style; missing the bull for a 124 match-winning salvo. This enabled the world champion to preserve his hopes with a tidy 14-dart hold, but the Austrian wasn’t to be denied, conjuring up a majestic 136 checkout for a 12-dart leg to book his place in the last four.
Finally, Gary Anderson defied his injury woes to book a spot in the semi-finals with a 10-6 win over Gerwyn Price in a highly-charged encounter. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ appeared incensed with the Welshman early on, after Price appeared to encroach into the exclusion zone when Anderson was on a nine-darter.
Nevertheless, the Scot had the last laugh, wrapping up victory with a 94.38 average, seven maximums and a 43% checkout conversion rate to set up a semi-final showdown against world number one Michael van Gerwen.
The two-time world champion made a blistering start; breaking throw immediately with a spectacular 150 checkout, before firing in six perfect darts to kick off the second leg. Anderson doubled his lead with a clinical 64 kill for a 12-darter, but was incensed in the previous visit as ‘The Iceman’ appeared to encroach into the exclusion zone.
His mood wasn’t helped by Price registering 13 and 14-darters to level up, before the pair traded breaks of throw in the next two legs. The Welshman then fired in a classy 104 finish to lead 4-3, but Anderson hit back strongly; reeling off three straight legs in 14, 17 and 15 darts to establish a 6-4 cushion at the second interval.
Price converted a fine 107 outshot to reduce the deficit to 6-5, but after the next two legs both went with throw, the Welshman’s scoring power disintegrated. He went 20 darts without hitting a big treble at one stage, as Anderson took out a tidy 70 kill and crashed in a sublime 177 en route to winning the final three legs to dump out the Welshman.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018 Unibet Masters
Sunday January 28
Afternoon Session (12.45pm)
Peter Wright 2-10 Raymond van Barneveld
Mensur Suljovic 10-8 Rob Cross
Gerwyn Price 6-10 Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen 10-2 James Wade
Best of 19 legs
Evening Session (7pm)
Raymond van Barneveld v Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson
Best of 21 legs
Van Gerwen/Anderson v Van Barneveld/Suljovic
Best of 21 legs