Daryl Gurney, Dimitri Van den Bergh and Vincent van der Voort all registered victories on day six at the World Darts Championship, as Darren Webster, Krzysztof Ratajski and Robert Thornton bowed out on another day of drama at the Alexandra Palace.
Gurney, who defeated Michael van Gerwen 11-9 to win last month’s Players Championship Finals, produced an impressive display to ease past Ross Smith 3-0 and set up a third-round showdown against last year’s semi-finalist Jamie Lewis.
The fifth seed missed 18 darts at a double but still averaged 100.30 and crashed in six maximums- dropping just two legs en route to sealing his place in round-three for just the second time in his World Championship career.
‘Super-Chin’ fired in maximums in each of the opening two legs, registering 16 and 13-dart legs to seal control early on. However, he gifted Smith a lifeline after spurning four set darts in the third, as the qualifier converted two-dart 82 and 47 checkouts to force a fifth and final leg in the opener.
The Northern Irishman closed out a confident 14-dart hold to draw first blood, before racing through the second set without reply, despite a number of missed doubles from both. Gurney then upped the ante in the closing stages, following up 14 and 15 dart legs with a sublime 12-darter in the decider, to cap off an impressive performance.
Vincent van der Voort stormed through to round-three after demolishing 13th seed Darren Webster, dropping just one leg en route to victory. ‘The Dutch Destroyer’ averaged 87.81, fired in two maximums and converted 32% of his attempts at double to complete a comprehensive triumph.
The first set was a scrappy affair, with the pair missing 20 darts at double between them. However, Van der Voort clinched it 3-1 and grew into the contest; converting finishes of 96, 140, 98 and 72 as he reeled off eight successive legs, which saw ‘The Demolition Man’ become the third top 16 star to depart the tournament in as many days.
World Youth champion Dimitri Van den Bergh set up a second-round tie against 15th seed Jonny Clayton, after recording a straight sets win over American debutant Chuck Puleo. ‘The Dream-Maker’ was nowhere near his vintage best, but still prevailed with an 85.08 average and a 40% checkout success rate.
The Belgian dropped just one leg en route to establishing a two-set lead, despite averaging just 82. Puleo converted finishes of 102 and 66 in an improved third set, but Van den Bergh- who also landed a majestic 144 checkout late on, survived two set darts from the American to seal his emphatic progression on tops.
Seigo Asada recovered from two sets down to defeat Krzysztof Ratjaski and set up a second-round showdown against nine-time major winner James Wade. ‘The Polish Eagle’ has won three Pro Tour titles in 2018 despite not holding a PDC Tour Card, but he was left to rue missed opportunities as Japan’s World Cup star Asada pulled off an upset.
Both players were fraught with nerves in the early stages, as Ratajski claimed a scrappy opening set with a 69 checkout in the decider. The former World Masters winner then converted finishes of 101 and 76 and fired in a 14-dart leg to double his lead. However, Asada posted an average of over 109 in the third as he halved the deficit impressively.
Asada then exploited eight missed darts from Ratajski by clinching the final two legs of set four to force an unlikely fifth and final set. The Japanese qualifier had the advantage of throw and sealed victory with a stunning 11-dart leg, after the Pole had missed three darts to break in the third leg of the decider.
Daniel Larsson dumped out multiple PDC major winner Robert Thornton to book a second-round showdown with Kim Huybrechts on Wednesday afternoon. The Swede- making his PDC World Championship debut- averaged 91.03, fired in seven maximums and converted 37% of his attempts at double to secure the biggest win of his career.
Larsson made a fine start and clinched the opening set with a majestic 125 checkout (25, T20, D20), but he squandered five set darts in the second, as Thornton restored parity at one set apiece with a 14-dart break on tops.
However, the Swede responded superbly; following up a clinical 107 outshot with a 13-dart break, before wrapping up the set on D10 after Thornton failed to take out 101. ‘The Thorn’ then spurned two darts at double to force a deciding set and Larsson capitalised; converting a nerveless 66 kill on tops, before sealing the deal with a 16-dart hold.
Rowby-John Rodriguez defeated Ricky Evans in a battle of the former World Youth finalists to secure his first victory on the Ally Pally stage. ‘Little John’ had suffered opening round exits in his previous three World Championship outings against Raymond van Barneveld and Dave Chisnall (twice), but he produced a solid display to upset ‘Rapid’.
Rodriguez won a high-quality opening set which saw all five legs go with throw, but Evans levelled up proceedings at one set apiece, winning the second with legs of 15, 15 and 16 darts. The Kettering ace drew first blood in set three with a 13-darter, but Rodriguez then embarked on a run of four consecutive legs to seize control.
Evans stopped the rot on D4 and followed up his fourth maximum with a sublime 124 checkout to seal the lead in set four and he celebrated in extravagant style. Nevertheless, ‘Rapid’ missed two darts at double to force a deciding set and Rodriguez pounced; following up a majestic 161 set-up shot by rounding-off victory inside 14 darts.
Elsewhere, Ron Meulenkamp fought back from two sets down to defeat Diogo Portela in an Ally Pally classic. ‘The Braziliant’ made a storming start; winning the opening set to nil with a 100.20 average. Portela extended his winning run to five legs with back-to-back 14-darters en route to doubling his lead, but Meulenkamp fought back.
After Portela drew first blood in set three with a clean 90 kill, Meulenkamp reeled off three straight legs in 14, 12 and 13 darts- including a 124 finish on the bull- to win the third with a 113 average. Portela then spurned five darts at double for a crucial break of throw midway through set four, which enabled the Dutchman to force a decider.
The pair kicked off the final set by exchanging 16-dart breaks of throw, but ‘Ron The Bomb’ fired in a brilliant 12-darter to move to the brink of victory, before sealing the win with his eighth match dart at D3. It was a terrific contest, with Meulenkamp averaging 93.56 and landing eight maximums to seal his first ever World Championship win.
Steve Lennon cruised to a straight sets win over Australian qualifier James Bailey to set up a meeting with 25th seed Alan Norris in round two. The Irishman averaged 87.22, posted two maximums and converted 29% of his attempts at double to register his first Ally Pally triumph.
Bailey drew first blood in the contest on D5, but Lennon reeled off three consecutive legs to win the opening set. The Aussie replied with a classy tops-tops 100 finish, but Lennon landed a clinical 112 checkout en route to clinching the second set, before overcoming six missed match darts by sealing his progression with a 14-dart hold on tops.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Tuesday December 18
Afternoon Session (1230)
Daniel Larsson 3-1 Robert Thornton (R1)
Rowby-John Rodriguez 3-1 Ricky Evans (R1)
Seigo Asada 3-2 Krzysztof Ratajski (R1)
Vincent van der Voort 3-0 Darren Webster (R2)
Evening Session (1900)
Steve Lennon 3-0 James Bailey (R1)
Ron Meulenkamp 3-2 Diogo Portela (R1)
Dimitri Van den Bergh 3-0 Chuck Puleo (R1)
Daryl Gurney 3-0 Ross Smith (R2)