Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson breezed through to the last eight at the Players Championship Finals, as Stephen Bunting edged out Peter Wright in a thrilling last-leg decider on another dramatic day of darts in Minehead.
Van Gerwen remains on course to win a fourth consecutive Players Championship Finals crown, after recording comprehensive victories over Keegan Brown and Stephen Burton in day two at Butlins.
‘The Green Machine’ thrashed former World Youth champion Brown 6-1 in round-two; averaging 106, registering four maximums and converting 60% of his attempts at double. It was a dominant display from Van Gerwen, but he did squander three clear darts for a 6-0 win, as Brown gratefully sank D16 to avert the whitewash.
In the last 16, MvG took on Stephen Burton, who defeated fellow East-Anglia star Darren Webster to reach the last 16 in his first ever televised tournament. He acquitted himself impressively but Van Gerwen was rampant; averaging 104.06, crashing in six 180’s and boasting a 40% checkout conversion rate to close out a 10-4 victory.
MvG now takes on Steve Lennon, who came through two gruelling tussles to reach his maiden PDC major quarter-final. The Irishman edged out Cristo Reyes in a marathon second-round tussle; averaging a miserly 79.34 and surviving a host of missed opportunities from Reyes, with the pair squandering 36 darts at double between them.
Lennon then faced German star Gabriel Clemens for a place in the last eight and trailed 5-0, before producing an astonishing fightback. The Irishman won 10 of the next twelve legs; averaging 92.35, landing four maximums and taking out a stunning 129 checkout to complete the turnaround.
Two-time world champion Gary Anderson stormed into the quarter-finals, having dropped just five legs across the entire tournament. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ averaged almost 108 in dispatching Alan Tabern 6-2 in his opener, and he eased past fellow Premier League star Simon Whitlock on Saturday afternoon.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ averaged 105.53, landed five maximums and converted 50% of his attempts at a double, with Whitlock’s solitary leg coming courtesy of an 11-darter. This set up a last 16 showdown between Anderson and Cullen- in a repeat of their classic World Matchplay quarter-final earlier this year.
However, there was to be no repeat of those fireworks, as Anderson ran out an emphatic 10-2 winner. The opening four legs all went with throw, before the Scot reeled off eight consecutive legs to breeze to victory. ‘The Rockstar’ missed 12 of his 14 darts at a double, as Anderson triumphed with a 100.58 average and five maximums.
The Scot will now take on last year’s finalist Jonny Clayton in the last eight, after ‘The Ferret’ continued his fine form to reach Finals Day in Minehead for the second successive year. Both of Clayton’s matches were played on stage two, but his progression was far from serene.
The Welshman survived a match dart against Michael Smith in round-two, having spurned six darts to beat ‘Bully Boy’ in the penultimate leg. This set up a third-round clash with Ricky Evans, who eased past Jeffrey de Zwaan on Saturday afternoon, but Clayton beat Evans 10-5 in a scrappy affair; firing in twenty 140’s en route to victory.
Stephen Bunting continued his resurgence with a pulsating deciding-leg win over world number two Peter Wright. ‘The Bullet’ battled past Madars Razma on Saturday afternoon, whilst Wright followed up his 6-2 win over Toni Alcinas by beating Max Hopp by the same scoreline.
Both players struggled on Saturday afternoon, but they produced a high-class showing in round-three. Bunting led from the very first leg and defied a late surge from Wright to triumph; taking out a nerveless 71 combination in the decider to prevail with a 98.25 average, four maximums, 18 scores of 140+ and a clinical 63% on the doubles.
Bunting now plays former Lakeside finalist Danny Noppert, who is through to his first major PDC quarter-final after recording fine victories over Mervyn King and Krzysztof Ratajski on stage two. ‘Noppie’ battled past King in a gruelling eleven-leg tussle earlier on in the afternoon; surviving one match dart to triumph with a 91.84 average.
In round-three, Noppert faced Ratajski, who continued his giant-killing spree to defeat two-time world champion Adrian Lewis 6-3- having dumped out newly crowned Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price in round-one. However, Noppert ran out an emphatic 10-4 winner- to record his fifth consecutive career victory over ‘The Polish Eagle’.
Former World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney survived a huge scare en route to reaching the last eight. ‘Super-Chin’ faced Ryan Searle in Saturday’s curtain-raiser and came through a dramatic last-leg decider, as Searle squandered three match darts in the finale which saw Gurney prevail with a 96.92 average.
Gurney then faced his compatriot Brendan Dolan, who dumped out top seed Ian White in round-two. However, Gurney recovered from 3-1 down to record an impressive 10-6 win over ‘The History-Maker’; crashing in nine maximums and averaging 101.79 to cap off a quality display.
The Premier League star will now face Chris Dobey for a place in the semi-finals, after ‘Hollywood’ claimed the scalps of Dave Chisnall and James Wade to reach just his second major PDC quarter-final. Dobey eased past Chisnall in round-two; averaging 93.59 and boasting a 50% success rate in the finishing department to complete a 6-3 win.
The Bedlington ace then faced James Wade, who was bidding to win his third major title this Autumn. Both players struggled in the opening stages, but a majestic 148 checkout from Dobey saw him recover from 6-3 down to lead, before he survived four match darts from Wade in a dramatic finale to secure one of the biggest wins of his career.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018 Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals
Schedule of Play
Saturday November 24
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Ryan Searle
James Wade 6-4 Nathan Aspinall
Chris Dobey 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Steve Lennon 6-5 Cristo Reyes
Gary Anderson 6-1 Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Keegan Brown
Peter Wright 6-2 Max Hopp
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Adrian Lewis
Stephen Bunting 6-4 Madars Razma
Gabriel Clemens 6-5 James Wilson
Ricky Evans 6-2 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Stephen Burton 6-3 Darren Webster
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Ian White
Danny Noppert 6-5 Mervyn King
Jonny Clayton 6-5 Michael Smith
Joe Cullen 6-4 Steve Beaton
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Chris Dobey 10-9 James Wade
Gary Anderson 10-2 Joe Cullen
Michael van Gerwen 10-4 Stephen Burton
Stephen Bunting 10-9 Peter Wright
Steve Lennon 10-7 Gabriel Clemens
Daryl Gurney 10-6 Brendan Dolan
Jonny Clayton 10-5 Ricky Evans
Danny Noppert 10-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
Sunday November 25
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)
Daryl Gurney v Chris Dobey
Danny Noppert v Stephen Bunting
Gary Anderson v Jonny Clayton
Steve Lennon v Michael van Gerwen
Evening Session (1900 GMT)