James Wade survived a huge scare as he edged out Seigo Asada in a controversial second-round clash, as eighth seed Simon Whitlock crashed out on another dramatic night at the World Darts Championship on Wednesday evening.
‘The Machine’ ended his four-year wait for a major title with successive triumphs at the European Championship and World Series Finals two months ago, but he was pushed all the way by an impressive Asada, who followed up his first-round victory over Krzysztof Ratajski with another terrific display.
Asada averaged 97.50, fired in three maximums and converted 38% of his attempts at double, but the nine-time major winner took his opportunities in typical Wade fashion- averaging 93.57 and boasting a 45% checkout success rate to book his place in round-three.
‘The Ninja’ clinched the first set with a dazzling 106.39 average- taking out a sparkling 130 finish en route. The Japanese star then spurned one dart at tops for a 2-0 lead and Wade capitalised; breaking throw in the deciding leg of the set with a nerveless 15-darter.
Asada regained the lead by closing out set three with fine 14 and 15-dart legs, but ‘The Machine’ fought back. He followed up a clinical 92 combination with a 13-dart hold before defying a solid hold from Asada to pin D9 and force a fifth and final set.
The Japanese World Cup star outscored Wade throughout the set, but the ninth seed converted vital 78 and 71 combinations to preserve his throw and force a tiebreak, and after Asada spurned one dart at D11 to break, Wade pounced. He pegged tops with his last dart in hand to hold, before converting an effortless 86 kill moments later to prevail.
However, controversy emerged at the end of the second set, when Wade celebrated directly in the face of Asada after restoring parity at one set apiece. ‘The Ninja’ understandably appeared bemused and in an explosive post-match interview, Wade told Sky Sports’ Rod Studd: “I wanted to hurt him, I wanted to really hurt him in his face.”
Elsewhere, Ryan Joyce caused another big upset at the World Championship, dumping out eighth seed Simon Whitlock in straight sets. Joyce followed up his 3-0 win over Anastasia Dobromyslova with another dominant display; averaging 90.40, posting four maximums and converting 47% of his attempts at double.
Joyce came from behind to win the opening set, wrapping it up with 13 and 15-dart legs. ‘Relentless’ lived up to his nickname by converting 109 and 78 finishes to double his lead, and Whitlock couldn’t respond. ‘The Wizard’ averaged just 87.63 and missed 14 of his 18 attempts at double, and Joyce followed up a clinical 72 kill with a 13-dart hold to prevail.
Michael Smith battled past Ron Meulenkamp in an entertaining affair to seal his spot in the third-round. Meulenkamp battled back from two sets down to defeat Diogo Portela 24 hours ago and he threatened another heroic fightback, but ‘Bully Boy’ held firm to prevail with a 94.18 average, seven maximums and a 50% checkout success rate.
Smith drew first blood in a hard-fought opening set, following up his second maximum with a 16-dart hold in leg five. The Premier League finalist then converted a stunning 132 checkout on the bull with Meulenkamp sat on tops midway through set two, which saw Smith open up a two-set cushion.
‘Ron The Bomb’ broke throw with a tidy 100 outshot en route to halving the deficit, but after the pair traded holds early in set four, an incredible third leg ensued. The pair crashed in four maximums between them, but Smith took out a brilliant 81 finish on the bull, before wrapping up the win on D10 moments later.
William O’Connor produced a fine display to dump out 26th seed James Wilson and set up a potential third-round tie against Mensur Suljovic. Wilson made a blistering start, clinching the opening set with a 112 average. He fired in 14 and 12 dart-legs to kick off proceedings, before answering a 147 from O’Connor with a stunning 160 set-clincher.
Wilson then drew first blood in the second, but a 110 finish sparked O’Connor into life, and the Irishman levelled up proceedings before producing legs of 14 and 13 darts in the third to move 2-1 ahead. However, Wilson responded by taking out a classy 128 on the bull in the fourth, before surviving one match dart at tops to force a final set.
Nevertheless, O’Connor produced some scintillating darts in the decider to reach round-three. He kicked off with a sublime 11-darter and although Wilson converted a clinical 96 kill to level, the Irishman followed up a solid 15-dart hold with another majestic 11-dart leg, to triumph with a 98.73 average, four maximums and a 52% checkout success rate.
Earlier this afternoon, Kim Huybrechts produced one of the performances of the tournament thus far to whitewash Daniel Larsson in nine straight legs. Larsson dumped out Robert Thornton just 24 hours earlier, but he was blown away by a rampant ‘Hurricane’ who averaged 103.26 and crashed in six maximums to breeze through.
Huybrechts won the opening set in 13, 15 and 14 darts and upped the ante further in set two; averaging 118.66 and wrapping it up inside 11 darts. The Belgian appeared poised to break Michael van Gerwen’s World Championship record of 114.05 at one stage, but a couple of missed doubles in the latter stages saw Van Gerwen’s record remain intact.
Brendan Dolan sent 14th seed Joe Cullen crashing out of the World Championship after recording a straight sets rout over ‘The Rockstar’. The Northern Irishman averaged 92.78 and registered two ton-plus checkouts- including the first 170 finish of the tournament- to dispatch an out-of-sorts Cullen, who missed 16 of his 17 attempts at double.
The ‘History-Maker’ took out a fine 118 finish en route to clinching the opening set without reply, and he extended his winning sequence to six legs; pegging a majestic 170 checkout to wrap up the second. Cullen finally opened his account on D4, but his doubling woes resurfaced as Dolan reeled off three straight legs to ease through.
Former World Youth finalist Nathan Aspinall eased into round-two with a straight sets win over Dutch debutant Geert Nentjes. ‘The Asp’ averaged 88.42, piled in four maximums and converted 33% of his doubles to set up a showdown against sixth seed Gerwyn Price, as Nentjes was punished for a miserly 15% checkout success rate.
Aspinall breezed into a two-set lead after a profligate display from the 20-year-old Dutchman, who converted just two of his opening 21 darts at double. Nentjes grew in confidence throughout the third, but squandered three set darts and Aspinall capitalised; firing in a 13-dart leg in the fifth leg of the set to prevail on his Ally Pally debut.
Finally, Noel Malicdem enjoyed a dream World Championship debut after recovering from 2-1 down to defeat Jeffrey de Graaf and set up a second-round showdown against Kyle Anderson. The Philippines ace- who won two events on the inaugural PDC Asian Tour this year- clinched the opening set after an abject start from De Graaf.
However, the Dutchman capitalised on some profligate finishing from Malicdem in the next two sets to seize the initiative. Malicdem took the fourth set with a clinical 96 combination and he produced a terrific display in the final set- reeling off three straight legs, including a pivotal 91 kill on the bull in leg two.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Wednesday 19 December
Afternoon Session (1230)
Nathan Aspinall 3-0 Geert Nentjes (R1)
Noel Malicdem 3-2 Jeffrey de Graaf (R1)
Brendan Dolan 3-0 Joe Cullen (R2)
Kim Huybrechts 3-0 Daniel Larsson (R2)
Evening Session (1900)
William O’Connor 3-2 James Wilson (R2)
Ryan Joyce 3-0 Simon Whitlock (R2)
Michael Smith 3-1 Ron Meulenkamp (R2)
James Wade 3-2 Seigo Asada (R2)