Michael van Gerwen began his bid for a fourth successive World Series Finals title with a comprehensive whitewash victory over Australian qualifier Damon Heta, as Gary Anderson, Peter Wright, Rob Cross, Daryl Gurney and home favourite Mensur Suljovic were all sent packing on a dramatic night of action in Vienna.
On an evening where a host of big names faltered, Van Gerwen produced a sublime performance to whitewash Damon Heta 6-0. ‘The Green Machine’- fresh from his disappointment at the European Championship, averaged 105.94, posted two 180s and recorded two ton-plus checkouts, as Heta wasn’t afforded a single dart at double.
The Dutchman converted finishes of 92 and 128 to open up an early 2-0 lead, then defying back-to-back maximums from Heta to extend his lead on D7. Van Gerwen followed up a 14-darter on D18 with a tremendous 127 finish on the bull, before sealing the deal with an effortless 75 combination.
Newly crowned European Champion James Wade continued his resurgence to break Austrian hearts and dump out home favourite Mensur Suljovic. ‘The Machine’ received a hostile reception from the partisan crowd in Vienna, but they were soon silenced by the eight-time major winner, who triumphed with a solid 97.11 average.
Suljovic drew first blood on D8; having wired the bull for a 170 finish in the preceding visit. However, Wade levelled with a clinical two-dart 100 outshot, before winning the next two legs in 18 darts to establish a 3-1 cushion. ‘The Gentle’ reduced the arrears to 3-2 at the break with a vital 72 checkout, but Wade was undeterred.
‘The Machine’ restored his two-leg lead with a comfortable 15-dart hold, before spurning three darts at tops for a 5-2 advantage. Suljovic hit the same target to move within touching distance, but Wade followed up a brilliant 11-dart hold with an effortless two-dart 96 kill to round-off a mightily professional performance.
Dave Chisnall fought back from 5-3 down to dump out two-time world champion Gary Anderson in a contest littered with quality. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ averaged 100.36, posted two maximums and boasted an impressive 50% checkout success rate, but it wasn’t enough to defeat a resurgent Chisnall.
Anderson drew first blood with a clinical 76 kill, but ‘Chizzy’ replied with a fine 109 finish and hit the front via tops. However, the Scot produced a magical passage of play to regain control. Anderson levelled up proceedings with a magnificent 170 finish, before completing an effortless two-dart 98 combination for an 11-dart break.
The fourth seed secured his third straight leg with a tidy 75 finish, but Chisnall stopped the rot with a crucial 113 checkout. Anderson restored his two-leg cushion courtesy of a classy 130 finish, but Chisnall fired in legs of 13 and 14 darts to force a decider, before producing a nerveless 64 kill in the finale to complete a stunning comeback victory.
Top seed Peter Wright endured a horror-show in Vienna; averaging just 79.94 as he was thrashed 6-1 by Gerwyn Price. The Scot fired in three maximums yet spurned ten of his 11 attempts at a double and failed to establish any consistency, which enabled ‘The Iceman’ to secure just his second career victory over Wright.
Price breezed into a 3-0 lead with legs of 18, 14 and 18 darts, with Wright failing to register a dart at double. However, the world number two then missed five darts across the next two legs, with Price converting finishes of 72 and 77 to extend his lead to 5-0.
‘Snakebite’ avoided the humiliation of a whitewash by virtue of pinning D2 at the fifth attempt, but there was to be no further fightback. Price- despite averaging a miserly 81.44, converted a two-dart 56 checkout to complete his second 6-1 win of the tournament, having disposed of Royden Lam in Friday’s opening-round.
Rob Cross was also dumped out at the first hurdle, as the out-of-sorts world champion was beaten 6-5 by Jamie Lewis in a scrappy affair. Lewis averaged over 109 in a brilliant first-round display against Dimitri van den Bergh, and although he was unable to replicate that type of performance, he was still accounted for the second seed.
Cross led 4-3 with both players desperately struggling, but the game suddenly exploded into life in the eighth leg. Lewis fired in a brilliant 121 on the bull to level, only for ‘Voltage’ to post successive visits of 180 and 177 en route to a 13-dart break of throw to move within a leg of victory.
However, last year’s World Championship semi-finalist Lewis responded superbly. He registered back-to-back maximums and completed an 11-darter to break back and force a decider, before holding his nerve impeccably in the decider; pegging tops for a 13-dart clincher.
Simon Whitlock fought back from 4-2 down to secure an unlikely victory over Daryl Gurney- in a repeat of last year’s World Grand Prix Final. ‘Super-Chin’ was averaging ten points more than Whitlock for much of the contest, but ‘The Wizard’ conjured up the ultimate act of escapism to seal his spot in the last eight.
The opening four legs were shared, before Gurney stole a march with a mesmerising 144 finish. The Northern Irishman extended his lead to 5-3, but Whitlock fought back to force a decider, in which Gurney capitulated. The Northern Irishman squandered five match darts and the Aussie duly capitalised; converting a two-dart 65 combination to prevail.
Michael Smith was the first man to progress through to the quarter-finals, as he defeated Kyle Anderson 6-3 in a high-quality affair. The Premier League finalist averaged 103.98, crashed in four maximums and converted three ton-plus finishes to set up a last eight showdown against his fellow St Helen’s star Dave Chisnall.
The pair exchanged 15-darters in the opening stages, before Smith produced a classy 120 checkout to record a third consecutive break of throw. ‘Bully Boy’ extended his lead to 3-1 with a 14-dart hold, but ‘The Original’ pegged D1 to halve the deficit, before conjuring up a majestic 11-dart hold to restore parity at three apiece.
However, the turning point came in the seventh leg. Anderson was poised on tops after 12 darts to move 4-3 ahead, but Smith fired in a superb 127 outshot on the bull to break once more. The former World Youth champion then moved to the cusp of victory with a wonderful 112, before rounding-off an impressive performance on D5.
Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld survived a scare as he edged out Australia’s Raymond Smith in a dramatic last-leg decider. Van Barneveld eased into a 3-0 lead courtesy of clinical 76 and 82 finishes, but the Dutchman lost his way as Smith reeled off four consecutive legs to establish a 4-3 cushion.
The pair exchanged holds in the next two legs, before Van Barneveld sank D6 for a 16-dart hold to force a decider. Smith had the advantage of throw, but Barney fired in his second maximum to seal command, before eventually pinning D10 with his fifth match dart to seal his progression with a 90 average and a 30% checkout conversion rate.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018 bwin World Series of Darts Finals
Schedule of Play
Saturday November 3 (2000 Local Time 1900 UK Time)
Michael Smith 6-3 Kyle Anderson
Raymond van Barneveld 6-5 Raymond Smith
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Gary Anderson
Gerwyn Price 6-1 Peter Wright
Simon Whitlock 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Jamie Lewis 6-5 Rob Cross
James Wade 6-3 Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen 6-0 Damon Heta
Sunday November 4
Afternoon Session (1345 Local Time 1245 UK Time)
Gerwyn Price v Simon Whitlock
Michael Smith v Dave Chisnall
Jamie Lewis v James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael van Gerwen