Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld became the latest big-name casualty to exit this year’s World Darts Championship, after losing 3-2 to Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas on a dramatic Monday night at the Alexandra Palace.
Third seed Peter Wright was beaten 3-1 by Spain’s Toni Alcinas on Sunday evening, and Van Barneveld followed Snakebite in departing at the first hurdle in his 27th and penultimate World Championship.
Van Barneveld announced last month that he would retire from professional darts following the 2020 World Championship, but the Dutchman’s farewell began in disappointing fashion, as he was edged out in a nervy five-set affair by Ally Pally debutant Labanauskas- ranked 108th in the world.
Barney struggled in the finishing department throughout, converting just nine of his 38 attempts at a double, as Labanauskas condemned the Dutchman to just his second opening-round defeat at a PDC World Championship.
Van Barneveld’s only other opening round defeat at the Alexandra Palace saw him lose 3-0 to James Richardson in 2012, but since then, he hadn’t dropped in a set in his opening games; having whitewashed Michael Smith, Jamie Lewis, Rowby-John Rodriguez, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Robbie Green and Richard North in previous years.
Nevertheless, he failed to settle in the opening set, averaging just 79 to Labanauskas’ 102, which saw the Lithuanian win the opener 3-1. Van Barneveld responded well; winning the second set in a decider- following up consecutive 16-dart holds with a clinical two-dart 72 combination in leg five to level the contest in 14 darts.
Van Barneveld tried to make inroads on Labanauskas’ throw in set three, with ‘Lucky D’ taking out a brilliant 99 finish in the third leg, with RvB poised on 76 after 9 darts. However, Barney was presented with a golden opportunity to move 2-1 ahead, after the Lithuanian strayed into double ten when requiring double six.
Despite this, the 51-year-old was unable to take advantage; spurning four set darts as Labanauskas returned to sink double six and clinch the set. Van Barneveld continued to battle and won the fourth set 3-2 to force a fifth and final set, but his doubling woes persisted.
Labanauskas- a quarter-finalist at the Lakeside in 2017, squandered ELEVEN darts at double in an extraordinary start to the fifth set, but Van Barneveld just couldn’t capitalise; spurning four more darts to break his opponent’s throw for the first time.
The Ally Pally debutant then moved to the cusp of victory via double 16 after Van Barneveld squandered six darts to level the set, and the doyen of Dutch darts just had nothing left in the tank. He wired the bull for a skin-saving 132 checkout, which allowed the Lithuanian to nail double four and clinch the biggest win of his career.
Labanauskas, who will now take on either Adrian Lewis or Ted Evetts in round-three, reflected: “I can’t believe it, this is 100 percent the biggest win of my life.
“At the start of my first set I wasn’t feeling good but I’ve been getting better and better the more time I spend on that incredible stage. This is massive for me, to beat a player of the calibre of Van Barneveld’s class gives me great confidence for the rest of the tournament.”
Meanwhile, speaking to the PDC, a desolate Van Barneveld admitted: “This is a very painful defeat, I really have no explanation for this performance and I can’t tell you how much this defeat hurts.
“I’m not sure what happened because everything went right before this match. I felt really good before I got on the stage and was practising well but for some reason that changed when I got on stage.
“I don’t know if it was tension or what it was but I had enough chances and I didn’t take them. I should’ve won the third set and I didn’t so all of the confidence I had, I started to lose.”
Elsewhere, Anastasia Dobromyslova’s Ally Pally return ended in defeat, as she was beaten 3-0 by debutant Ryan Joyce. Dobromyslova made her PDC World Championship debut back in 2009, where she was beaten 5-3 in the preliminary round by Remco van Eijden.
The three-time women’s world champion clinched the opening leg of her clash with Joyce, but ‘Relentless’ lived up to his nickname; converting finishes of 106, 122 and 95 in consecutive legs to draw first blood.
Joyce- a former BDO Gold Cup winner- won the second set without reply to extend his winning sequence to six legs, but Dobromyslova stopped the rot to seal an early lead in set three, producing another 16-dart hold.
The 34-year-old held her throw in the third leg of the set and had the throw to halve the deficit, but the trebles proved elusive and Joyce closed out victory on double six, to set up a second-round showdown against eighth seed Simon Whitlock.
Vincent van der Voort defeated Lourence Ilagan in a high-quality contest to set up a meeting with 13th seed Darren Webster on Tuesday afternoon. ‘The Dutch Destroyer’ had only suffered the solitary opening round defeat in his previous 11 PDC World Championships, but he was pushed all the way by an impressive Ilagan.
The 40-year-old from Manila scooped four titles on the inaugural PDC Asian Tour this year and underlined his credentials with a fine display; averaging 95.52, crashing in five maximums and producing two three-figure finishes.
The Dutchman kicked off proceedings with legs of 15 and 14 darts en route to clinching the opener, but Ilagan responded magnificently; converting finishes of 120 and 81 to restore parity at one set apiece, with an average of 108.44 in set two.
The qualifier then fired in four maximums in as many legs to seal the initiative in set three, but he was left to rue missed opportunities. He missed one set dart at double eight in the third, before relinquishing a 2-0 advantage in the fourth, as Van der Voort closed out a 3-1 victory with a 94.06 average.
Finally, Devon Petersen survived six match darts as he edged out Wayne Jones in a scrappy affair to set up a second-round showdown against Ian White. The South African progressed with an 84.79 average, four maximums and three ton-plus finishes, but Jones was left frustrated after falling agonisingly short of completing a fine comeback.
Petersen won a high-quality opening set in a decider, with neither player missing a single dart at double. The South African wrapped it up with a clinical 94 kill, before winning set two without reply to establish a 2-0 cushion.
However, Jones kicked off set three with a fine 102 finish, before embarking on a run of five successive legs to threaten an unlikely comeback. Petersen stopped the rot with a majestic 121 on the bull for a 12-dart break, before firing in a 14-darter to heap the pressure on Jones.
‘The Wanderer’ held his nerve to hit tops and force a decider, which went down to the very last leg. Petersen had the advantage of throw and was first to a finish, but spurned seven match darts. Despite this, Jones missed six darts of his own, which enabled ‘The African Warrior’ to triumph with a 27-dart leg culminating on double two.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018/2019 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Monday December 17
Vincent van der Voort 3-1 Lourence Ilagan (R1)
Devon Petersen 3-2 Wayne Jones (R1)
Ryan Joyce 3-0 Anastasia Dobromyslova (R1)
Darius Labanauskas 3-2 Raymond van Barneveld (R2)