Steve West recorded the biggest victory of his career to end Michael van Gerwen’s four-year reign as European Champion, as Peter Wright, Mensur Suljovic, Daryl Gurney, Michael Smith and Adrian Lewis were all dumped out on an astonishing day of darts in Dortmund.
Van Gerwen was bidding to win an unprecedented fifth successive European Championship and he had won all 11 of his previous meetings against the Waltham Abbey ace. However, West produced some inspired darts to secure a place in his first ever European Championship quarter-final.
‘The Green Machine’ made an abject start; trailing 4-1 at the first interval with just an 82 average. However, he responded by winning four of the next five legs in 15, 15, 11 and 16 to restore parity at five apiece. Van Gerwen seemed an almost certain winner at this stage, but West rallied incredibly in the latter stages to record a famous victory.
West won three straight legs after the break in 12, 13 and 14 darts to seal command at 8-5, and although Van Gerwen responded with an 11-darter as he reduced the arrears to 8-7, but the underdog broke straight back after sinking D15 with his last dart in hand, before holding his nerve with a 14-dart hold on tops to prevail with a 96.06 average.
2012 European Champion Simon Whitlock dumped out world number two Peter Wright in a scrappy affair to reach the quarter-finals. ‘The Wizard’ had failed to win any of his last seven tussles against Snakebite, but the Scot averaged a miserly 86.82 and failed to register a single maximum as he fell to a 10-6 defeat against the eighth seed.
Whitlock missed 15 darts at a double in the opening five legs but still led 3-2 at the interval, with Wright’s scoring non-existent. The Aussie led 8-4 at one stage, but Wright reduced the arrears to 8-6 with back-to-back 15 darters. Nevertheless, Whitlock then conjured up brilliant 136 and 101 checkouts in consecutive legs to seal his progression.
World champion Rob Cross breezed through to the quarter-finals with an emphatic 10-2 victory over debutant Richard North. North sealed his place in round-two with a 6-1 win over fourth seed Ian White, but he couldn’t replicate that performance against ‘Voltage’; missing 17 of his 19 attempts at a double as Cross breezed through with a 93.06 average.
Cross will now play Joe Cullen for a semi-final spot, after Cullen claimed an emphatic 10-4 victory over Premier League finalist Michael Smith. ‘Bully Boy’ endured a nightmare in the finishing department, missing an astonishing 25 darts at double as Cullen won five straight legs to prevail with a 94.02 average and six 180’s.
‘The Rockstar’ raced into a 4-0 lead after Smith missed a multitude of darts at double, but the St Helen’s star won four of the next five legs to reduce the arrears to 5-4. However, he then spurned two darts to level at 5-5 and Cullen capitalised; winning the next five without reply and closing out the win with a superb 132 finish culminating on the bull.
Friday’s afternoon session featured the remaining eight first-round ties, as second seed Mensur Suljovic was dumped out by Spanish star Cristo Reyes. Suljovic had been struggling with illness and struggled throughout, but Reyes was clinical in the finishing department; hitting 66% of his doubles to clinch a 6-3 victory with a 90.90 average.
However, the pick of Friday afternoon’s ties saw Dave Chisnall conjure up a magical 157 finish to secure a dramatic last-leg victory over Adrian Lewis. Chisnall averaged 97.94, fired in three 180’s and also landed a sublime 161 outshot in leg three, before sending the crowd into raptures with a dazzling 157 match-winner, with Lewis sat on D18.
World number five Daryl Gurney was another surprise first-round casualty, with the Northern Irishman going down 6-4 to Ricky Evans. Gurney averaged 97.20 and crashed in four maximums, but he was punished for profligacy in the doubling department as Evans reeled off the final four legs to claim one of his biggest televised wins to date.
Evans will now face James Wade, after the new father began his campaign with a 6-3 win over German youngster Martin Schindler. ‘The Machine’ wasn’t at his vintage best but produced a typically professional performance to ease through with a 91.77 average and a 38% checkout success rate, with Schindler’s best moment coming virtue of a 121 finish.
Home favourite Max Hopp delighted the 5,000 fans at the Westfalenhalle by securing a comprehensive 6-1 win over William O’Connor. ‘The Maximiser’ opened up proceedings with a mesmerising 164 finish and maintained his cool as O’Connor became embroiled in an ongoing dispute with the Dortmund crowd.
James Wilson produced the performance of the afternoon to thrash Austrian Darts Open winner Jonny Clayton 6-2. ‘Lethal Biscuit’ lived up to his nickname; averaging 103.64, crashing in six maximums and boasting a checkout conversion rate of 66% to cap off a delightful display.
Darren Webster edged out Stephen Bunting in a pulsating deciding-leg clash to set up a showdown with Cristo Reyes for a place in the quarter-finals. ‘The Demolition Man’ averaged 99.38, posted two maximums and converted 55% of his attempts at a double to send Bunting packing for the second straight televised event.
Gerwyn Price defied a 101 average from Kyle Anderson to move into the last 16 with a 6-4 win over the 2017 semi-finalist. Anderson produced legs of 13, 14 and 13 darts to open up a 3-2 lead but the turning point came in leg nine, as ‘The Iceman’ conjured up a brilliant 12-dart break, before holding his nerve in the next to triumph on D2.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Friday October 26
Afternoon Session (1345 local time, 1245 UK time)
First Round x8
James Wilson 6-2 Jonny Clayton
Darren Webster 6-5 Stephen Bunting
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Kyle Anderson
Cristo Reyes 6-3 Mensur Suljovic
Ricky Evans 6-4 Daryl Gurney
Max Hopp 6-1 William O’Connor
James Wade 6-3 Martin Schindler
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Adrian Lewis
Evening Session (2000 local time, 1900 UK time)
Second Round x4
Joe Cullen 10-4 Michael Smith
Simon Whitlock 10-6 Peter Wright
Rob Cross 10-2 Richard North
Steve West 10-7 Michael van Gerwen
Saturday October 28 (2000 local time, 1900 UK time)
Gerwyn Price v Dave Chisnall
Cristo Reyes v Darren Webster
James Wade v Ricky Evans
Max Hopp v James Wilson