Luke Humphries produced a sensational display to send reigning champion Rob Cross crashing out of the World Darts Championship, as ninth seed James Wade also bowed out on another day of shocks at the Alexandra Palace.
There have been a multitude of upsets at this year’s tournament, but Humphries caused one of the biggest yet by reeling off four straight sets from 2-0 down to end Cross’ unbeaten run at the Ally Pally.
‘Cool Hand Luke’ defeated Adam Hunt, former Lakeside champion Stephen Bunting and World Youth champion Dimitri Van den Bergh to reach this stage, but he produced the performance of his life to shock ‘Voltage’, averaging 99.71, crashing in seven maximums and converting 40% of his attempts at double.
Cross claimed the opening set without reply, taking out 106 and 107 finishes en route. The world champion then edged a dramatic second set by hitting D1 at the fifth attempt, after Humphries spurned four darts to level proceedings.
‘Voltage’ drew first blood in the third with a clinical 64 kill, but Humphries followed up back-to-back 14-darters with a brilliant 115 finish to halve the deficit. He extended his winning sequence of legs to five with a classy 114 outshot, before restoring parity at two sets apiece by pinning D16 to complete a 64 checkout.
Cross was visibly shell-shocked and although the second seed hit the front in set five, Humphries levelled in 13 darts, before punishing some indifferent scoring from the world champion to wrap up his third straight set with consecutive 16-dart legs.
Suddenly Humphries was throwing for victory in set six, but the contest appeared poised for a seventh and final set as Cross led 2-0 in the sixth. Nevertheless, Humphries fired in legs of 11 and 14 darts to force a decider in which he had the advantage of throw, and the 23-year-old held his nerve impeccably to clinch a famous victory with a 14-darter via D7.
James Wade was another high-profile seed to exit the World Championship as he was beaten 4-3 by Ryan Joyce in a dramatic tussle. ‘The Machine’ spurned five match darts for a 4-2 victory, as debutant Joyce- who has already accounted for Anastasia Dobromyslova, Simon Whitlock and Alan Norris, advanced in a nervy final set.
Joyce drew first blood in a scrappy opener, with Wade averaging a miserly 77. However, the nine-time major winner rallied in set two; averaging 107 and levelling up proceedings with a classy 81 checkout on the bull, with Joyce poised on tops for a two-set lead.
Wade converted a fine 120 finish en route to winning the third set, but Joyce raced to the fourth without reply, taking out a brilliant 123 checkout en route. The three-time World Championship semi-finalist regained the lead after wrapping up set five without reply, but he squandered five darts for victory in a dramatic conclusion to set six.
Joyce somehow found a severely obstructed D4 to send the match into a deciding set, but Wade drew first blood in it via D5. Nevertheless, Joyce responded with a clinical 110 kill, before landing double ten to break Wade’s throw. ‘The Machine’ had three darts at D18 to stay alive but he was found wanting, as ‘Relentless’ triumphed with his fifth match dart.
Elsewhere, Michael Smith sealed a spot in his second World Championship quarter-final with a 4-1 victory over Ryan Searle. ‘Bully Boy’ averaged 99.72, crashed in ten maximums and converted 48% of his attempts at double to cap off a fine display and set up a clash with world champion Rob Cross in the last eight.
Smith drew first blood in a scrappy opening set, before recovering from 2-0 down in the second to double his lead; taking out finishes of 72, 76 and 130 in consecutive legs. The tenth seed then stormed to the third set with an average of 121.86- the highest of the tournament thus far, after following up a 15-dart leg with back-to-back 11-darters.
The St Helen’s star landed a classy 126 checkout on the bull to send the fourth set to a decider, but he squandered two darts at tops for a 4-0 win, as Searle stayed alive on D10. An 11-darter helped Searle go two legs up in set five but Smith hit back, levelling with a 96 finish before taking out 106 to seal his progression.
Dave Chisnall will face two-time world champion Gary Anderson in the last eight, after breezing past last year’s semi-finalist Jamie Lewis in straight sets. ‘Chizzy’ averaged 98.50, registered eight maximums and boasted a 34% checkout success rate, to extend his winning run to 11 consecutive sets at this year’s event.
Lewis made a bright start to lead 2-0 in the opening set, but Chisnall levelled in 14 and 15 darts, before clinching the set with a majestic 10-dart hold. He doubled his lead with legs of 15, 11 and 14 darts, before missing eight set darts in a dramatic third set.
Despite this, ‘Fireball’ was unable to capitalise and squandered four darts to halve the deficit, before Chisnall sank D16 to move 3-0 ahead at the ninth attempt. The St Helen’s star missed three darts at tops for a clean sweep in the fourth as Lewis stayed alive on D11, but Chisnall regained his composure to seal the win with a 15-darter moments later.
Nathan Aspinall continued his dream World Championship run with a dramatic comeback victory over Devon Petersen. ‘The Asp’ fought back from 2-0 down to dump out sixth seed Gerwyn Price in round-two, and he repeated the feat to edge out Petersen, averaging 95.76, posting six 180’s and converting 38% of his attempts at double.
‘The African Warrior’ started strongly, dropping just one leg en route to establishing a two-set cushion- having landed six of his nine attempts at double. He also led 2-0 in the third but spurned three darts at D12 for a 3-0 advantage and this sparked a remarkable turnaround, with Aspinall going on to level proceedings at two sets all.
The 27-year-old then averaged 104 in set five to claim his third straight set, but Petersen took out a clinical 115 kill for the second time in the contest en route to forcing a seventh and final set. The opening four legs were shared which forced a tiebreak, but Aspinall followed up a tidy 65 outshot with a 13-dart break to secure the biggest win of his career.
Aspinall will now take on Brendan Dolan in the quarter-finals, after the former World Grand Prix finalist eased past Benito van de Pas in scrappy affair. ‘The History-Maker’ accounted for Joe Cullen and Mervyn King in his previous ties, and he claimed the scalp of another seed in the shape of ‘Big Ben’.
Dolan eased into a three-set lead after winning nine of the opening 11 legs, but Van de Pas converted a nerveless 88 combination to triumph in a fourth set decider. The Dutchman then took out 72 and 68 to lead in the fifth, but Dolan recovered to prevail 4-1 with an 89.77 average, four maximums and a 33% checkout success rate.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2018/2019 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Friday December 28
Afternoon Session (1230)
Fourth Round x3
Nathan Aspinall 4-3 Devon Petersen
Brendan Dolan 4-1 Benito van de Pas
Ryan Joyce 4-3 James Wade
Evening Session (1900)
Fourth Round x3
Michael Smith 4-1 Ryan Searle
Dave Chisnall 4-0 Jamie Lewis
Luke Humphries 4-2 Rob Cross