Third seed Peter Wright was sent crashing out of the William Hill World Darts Championship after suffering a shock 3-1 defeat against Spanish star Toni Alcinas on a dramatic double-session on Sunday at the Alexandra Palace.
‘Snakebite’ made his way to the stage dressed in incredible Santa attire, but Christmas came early for Alcinas, as Wright spurned 23 darts at a double en route to suffering second-round heartbreak at the Ally Pally for the second straight year.
The Scot has struggled since reaching October’s World Grand Prix Final, failing to reach the quarter-finals in any of his last four televised tournaments. However, he was punished for another profligate display by an inspired Alcinas, as Wright becomes the highest seed to lose their opening match at a World Championship since 2006.
The Spaniard reached the last 16 twelve months ago, and dropped just one leg in dismantling New Zealand qualifier Craig Ross in round-one on Saturday evening. He famously teamed up with Carlos Rodriguez to beat Phil Taylor and James Wade at the 2010 World Cup of Darts, but this will surely rank as his greatest triumph.
Alcinas secured an early 2-0 lead in the opening set, with Wright spurning a multitude of opportunities to open his account. The world number three then suddenly sparked into life courtesy of a dazzling 167 finish, and he seemed poised to clinch the opening set; firing in a delightful 171 to leave 28 after 12 darts in the decider.
Nevertheless, the Spaniard snatched the set with a quality ton-plus finish of his own; converting a nerveless 109 checkout to hit the front. Wright drew first blood in the second, but his finishing frailties resurfaced and Alcinas pounced; doubling his lead in sets with an assured 13-dart hold on tops.
‘Snakebite’ responded impressively; landing a majestic 10-dart leg en route to winning the third set without reply, and the comeback continued as he clinched his fourth straight leg to seal early control of the fourth set.
Despite this, Alcinas stopped the rot by following up his fifth maximum with a fine 80 checkout, before dispatching an 83 kill on double nine to force Wright to throw to stay in the tournament. The trebles began to evade the Scot and Alcinas capitalised; following up his sixth maximum with a 13-darter on double 16 to complete a famous victory.
Elsewhere, Dave Chisnall produced an extraordinary comeback from two sets down to defeat Josh Payne in one of the games of the tournament thus far. Payne made a blistering start to the contest; converting a sublime 125 checkout to clinch the opening set in three straight legs, with a 115 average.
The procession continued for Payne after the interval, as he won the second set in 14, 16 and 13 darts to move within a set of victory. The 2017 World Youth finalist registered his seventh straight leg with another 14-darter, but Chisnall finally opened his account and forced a decider in set three, where he produced a 13-dart hold to halve the deficit.
The St Helen’s star began to find the treble with greater regularity as he won the fourth set 3-1 to send the match into a fifth and decisive set, but Payne responded by drawing first blood with a clinical 84 outshot.
However, the turning point came in the second leg of set five. ‘The Maximum’ fired in back-to-back maximums but squandered three darts at a double to break throw, and Chisnall won the remaining three legs to complete a famous comeback; despite Payne posting a higher average, hitting more 180’s and boasting a better checkout success rate.
Ross Smith defeated the legendary Paul Lim to set up a second-round showdown against fifth seed Daryl Gurney on Tuesday evening. ‘The Singapore Slinger’- the oldest man in the field at the age of 64- was competing in his 11th PDC World Championship, having made his World Championship debut at the Lakeside in 1982.
Despite this, he was convincingly beaten by an impressive Smith- making his first Alexandra Palace appearance since 2014. ‘Smudger’ took out finishes of 70, 67 and 106 to win the opening set, before converting a majestic 138 checkout en route to doubling his lead.
Lim only won two legs in the opening two sets, but he breezed through the third without reply to threaten an unlikely comeback. However, Smith stopped the rot with a clinical 84 kill on the bullseye, before posting back-to-back 14-dart legs to book his place in round-two.
Luke Humphries set up a second-round showdown with Stephen Bunting after recording an emphatic straight sets win over Adam Hunt. The PDPA qualifier won the opening leg, before Humphries reeled off nine successive legs to prevail with a 97.58 average and five maximums, to claim his first ever World Championship win.
Darius Labanauskas will play Raymond van Barneveld on Monday night after defeating Matthew Edgar 3-1. The former Lakeside quarter-finalist- who is the first Lithuanian to compete at a PDC World Championship, missed 15 of his first 16 darts at double as Edgar secured the opening set, but Labanauskas won nine of the next ten legs to triumph.
Former World Grand Prix finalist Brendan Dolan breezed through to the second-round after thrashing Chinese qualifier Yuanjun Liu. ‘The History-Maker’ has never gone beyond the second-round at the World Championship, but he dropped just one leg en route to victory; averaging 86.63 and converting 32% of his attempts at double.
Gabriel Clemens enjoyed a successful Ally Pally debut after beating PDPA qualifier Aden Kirk in straight sets. ‘Gaga’ fired in four maximums but struggled for consistency; averaging a modest 83.27 and missing 22 darts at double. However, Kirk never settled, which enabled the German to set up a tie with John Henderson in round-two.
William O’Connor claimed his first World Championship win with a convincing straight sets victory over Dutch qualifier Yordi Meeuwisse. It wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline suggests, with O’Connor winning the second set in a decider, before he sealed the win with a classy 107 finish, after Meeuwisse had missed D16 to win the third.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018/2019 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Sunday December 16
Gabriel Clemens 3-0 Aden Kirk (R1)
William O’Connor 3-0 Yordi Meeuwisse (R1)
Brendan Dolan 3-0 Yuanjun Liu (R1)
Dave Chisnall 3-2 Josh Payne (R2)
Luke Humphries 3-0 Adam Hunt (R1)
Darius Labanauskas 3-1 Matthew Edgar (R1)
Ross Smith 3-1 Paul Lim (R1)
Toni Alcinas 3-1 Peter Wright (R2)