Steve Beaton defeated Raymond van Barneveld in a battle of the legends in Leverkusen, while Glen Durrant enjoyed a winning start on his European Tour debut on Friday night as the European Darts Open kicked off in style.
The 2019 European Tour got underway on a dramatic day at the Ostermann Arena, which saw 32 qualifiers competing across a hectic double-sesson of darts. However, Van Barneveld’s European Tour return ended in a frustrating defeat.
The five-time world champion surrendered a 4-2 advantage against the evergreen Beaton, who now faces Rob Cross in round-two. Barney was averaging 101 until leg seven, but the Dutchman lost his way in the closing stages and Beaton’s last dart in hand doubling saw him reel off the final four legs to triumph.
Three-time Lakeside world champion Glen Durrant enjoyed a winning start on his European Tour debut, battling past spirited host-nation qualifier Michael Rosenauer to book a meeting with 16th seed Jermaine Wattimena in round-two.
The German reeled off three straight legs in 14, 15 and 17 darts to level at four apiece, but Durrant maintained his composure and won the final two legs to prevail with a 94.41 average and a solid 50% checkout conversion rate.
Two-time European Tour winner Kim Huybrechts survived SEVEN match darts as he edged out home favourite Nico Kurz in a gripping last-leg decider. The German took out a stunning 131 checkout in leg seven to seize control, but he squandered seven match darts in the last two legs and ‘The Hurricane’ capitalised to prevail with an 87.03 average.
World Youth champion Dimitri Van den Bergh eased through to round-two with an emphatic 6-1 win over Ritchie Edhouse. Edhouse struggled throughout against the Belgian, who averaged 94.72, rattled in four 180s and sank 40% of his doubles to book a tie against Adrian Lewis.
Former World Masters champion Krzysztof Ratajski fought back from 3-1 down to defeat Matthew Edgar and set up a second-round showdown against Michael Smith. ‘The Polish Eagle’ spurned 25 darts at a double but Edgar also toiled in the finishing department, as Ratajski held his nerve to triumph with a 16-dart hold in the decider.
Mervyn King will hope to repeat his UK Open heroics when he takes on world number one Michael van Gerwen on Saturday night .’The King’ eased past Jason Wilson 6-1 in a scrappy affair but produced a delightful 122 checkout on the bull to seal his progression and set up another battle against his Dutch rival.
Jeffrey de Zwaan will take on Premier League star Daryl Gurney on Saturday afternoon, after ‘The Black Cobra’ eased past Josh Payne in his opener. De Zwaan averaged 91.01, piled in three maximums and boasted a 33% checkout success rate, as Payne nailed just one of his nine attempts at double.
Vincent van der Voort was the final man to book his second round berth, as he defeated former World Championship semi-finalist Wayne Jones 6-2. Van der Voort wasn’t at his explosive best but still fired in two maximums and averaged 90.94 as he prepares to play Joe Cullen in the last 32.
Elsewhere, Adam Hunt produced a clinical display of finishing to defeat European Tour debutant Danny van Trijp. The opening four legs were shared, but Hunt won four of the final five legs in 12, 15, 18 and 14 darts; taking out finishes of 103 and 150 and boasting a majestic 86% checkout success rate.
UK Open quarter-finalist Ross Smith continued his strong start to 2019, whitewashing Ricky Williams to set up a meeting with Simon Whitlock in round-two. Smith averaged 92.97, crashed in four maximums and converted 38% of his attempts at double to dispatch the 29-year-old.
Former European Tour winner Justin Pipe kicked off the tournament with a solid 6-3 win over Development Tour event winner Ryan Meikle. ‘The Force’ has endured a difficult 18 months but impressed at the Ostermann Arena, racing into a 4-0 lead before prevailing with a 94.61 average and three 180s.
Ted Evetts came through a scrappy affair against Martin Atkins to book a last 32 tussle against an in-form Dave Chisnall. The St Helen’s star has scooped two Pro Tour titles over the last month but Evetts has also enjoyed a strong start to the season, firing in two 9-darters on the Pro Tour circuit.
Matthew Dennant recovered from 4-2 down to edge out Madars Razma in a deciding-leg shootout to confirm a second round tie against Mensur Suljovic. Razma started strongly and was averaging 99 after five legs, but Dennant rallied and held his nerve to triumph with a 15-darter in the decider.
Scott Taylor defeated home favourite Fabian Herz 6-3 to set up a showdown with Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price for a place in the third round. The Bolton ace lost the opening leg but recovered to establish a 4-1 cushion, before closing out a comfortable win with a 91.58 average.
Czech qualifier Pavel Jirkal recorded a 6-1 victory over European Tour debutant William Borland in a scrappy affair, whilst Wesley Plaisier defeated Jyhan Artut 6-4, as the former German World Cup star made his first European Tour appearance since September 2016.
The seeded players, led by 28-time European Tour event winner Van Gerwen, will enter at the second round stage on Saturday, with Cross, Peter Wright, Smith, Gurney, Price, Suljovic and James Wade also set to feature.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC