Defending champion Daryl Gurney and Peter Wright suffered surprise first round exits on an action-packed opening day at the Players Championship Finals, as Raymond van Barneveld rolled back the years to defeat UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall at the Butlin’s Minehead Resort on Friday.
Gurney, who defeated Michael van Gerwen in last year’s finale, was beaten by TV debutant Luke Woodhouse, who recovered from 5-3 down to stun ‘Super Chin’. Woodhouse struggled in the doubling department early on, but recorded back-to-back 15-darters at the death to dump out the 14th seed.
Woodhouse, who fired in four maximums en route to victory – will face Gabriel Clemens on Saturday afternoon, after ‘The German Giant’ accounted for former BDO No 1 Mark McGeeney, running out a 6-4 winner.
Peter Wright was another surprise first round casualty in Minehead, as he surrendered 4-2 and 5-3 leads against James Wilson. The Scot converted clinical 100, 147 and 121 finishes to steal an early march, only for ‘Snakebite’ to waste three match darts in the closing two legs.
Wilson showed nerves of steel to produce 100 and 64 combinations to claim his first win over the former UK Open champion in seven attempts and ‘The Jammie Dodger’ now locks horns with World Grand Prix semi-finalist Chris Dobey, who recorded a 6-1 rout against Spain’s Cristo Reyes.
Raymond van Barneveld produced a classy display to defeat UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall on his Minehead return. The five-time world champion averaged 98.90, crashed in two maximums and converted 46% of his attempts at double to claim the scalp of the 12th seed.
Van Barneveld – competing in his penultimate tournament before retirement, meets Joe Cullen in a tasty second round tie after ‘The Rockstar’ averaged 99.78, posted five 180’s and hit 60% of his doubles to defeat a struggling Kyle Anderson 6-2.
Michael van Gerwen fended off a spirited fightback from World Youth finalist Luke Humphries to set up a showdown with Adrian Lewis in the second round. Van Gerwen raced into a 4-0 lead courtesy of a spectacular 170 outshot, only for Humphries to reduce the arrears to 4-3.
‘Cool Hand’ missed two darts at double to level and MvG duly capitalised to progress with a 100 average. Meanwhile, Lewis reeled off five straight legs from 4-1 down to see off Josh Payne in an emotionally-charged affair, which saw both players involved in a heated exchange in the aftermath.
Top seed Gerwyn Price continued from where he left off at the Grand Slam, registering an impressive opening round win over Mickey Mansell. Price, who defeated Peter Wright to retain his crown in Wolverhampton, averaged 101.95 and boasted a 75% checkout success rate to prevail 6-3.
Mansell was averaging over 100 for large periods, but the Welshman showed his class when it mattered most and he now meets Keegan Brown for a place in the third round, after the former World Youth champion claimed a 6-3 win over Andy Boulton.
Second seed James Wade survived a scare to defeat Development Tour winner Ted Evetts in a high-quality contest. Evetts took out finishes of 132 and 105 to establish a 4-3 cushion, but ‘The Machine’ won the final three legs to triumph with a 98.43 average and three maximums.
The nine-time major winner plays Ricky Evans for a place in the last 16, after ‘Rapid’ battled past Steve Beaton – an ever-present in this event. Beaton squandered three match darts in a dramatic affair and Evans’ win sees him close in on a place in the world’s top 32.
Fifth seed Glen Durrant overcame a bout of man flu to seal his progression with a routine 6-2 win over former BDO colleague Scott Baker, averaging 94.45, firing in two maximums and converting 60% of his attempts at double.
Durrant plays Max Hopp in the last 32, after the German No 1 overcame Jelle Klaasen 6-3. Hopp kicked off proceedings with a 140 checkout before Klaasen replied with a 170 outshot in an explosive opening salvo, but ‘The Maximiser’ came through a scrappy affair with an 87.84 average.
Michael Smith’s bid for an elusive first major title continues after sweeping aside Martin Schindler 6-1 in a scrappy affair. ‘Bully Boy’ will take on a resurgent Brendan Dolan in Saturday’s second-round, after the Northern Irishman cruised past an off-colour Ross Smith by the same scoreline.
Dave Chisnall reeled off five consecutive legs to ease past Matthew Edgar 6-2 and set up a second round showdown against former finalist Mervyn King. ‘The King’ defied two ton-plus finishes on the bull from Justin Pipe to progress in an enthralling last-leg decider with a 100.71 average.
Third seed Krzysztof Ratajski capitalised on a profligate display from Steve Lennon to breeze into round two. The Irishman spurned 16 of his 17 attempts at double and ‘The Polish Eagle’ swooped, averaging 92 to book a meeting with William O’Connor, who averaged 98 to beat Steve West 6-4.
World No 2 Rob Cross and Jamie Hughes will clash for the second consecutive PDC major after defeating Ron Meulenkamp and Jermaine Wattimena respectively. ‘Voltage’ eased past Meulenkamp 6-2, whilst Hughes posted a ton-topping average to dispose of ‘The Machine Gun’.
Ian White defied four maximums from Devon Petersen to avoid an upset in his opener, averaging 96.97 and converting 55% of his double attempts to close out a hard-fought 6-4 win over the South African. He now faces Vincent van der Voort, who saw off Arron Monk by the same scoreline.
Mensur Suljovic survived a match dart and fought back from 5-3 down to dump out 2012 finalist Kim Huybrechts in a topsy-turvy tie. The Austrian’s reward is a clash with World Series finalist Danny Noppert, who recovered from 5-2 down to defeat Ryan Searle with 99.48 average and four 180’s.
Stephen Bunting was the first man to book his place in round two after breezing past World Youth champion Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-2. The Belgian drew first blood in 14 darts but struggled for large periods as ‘The Bullet’ prevailed with a 94.55 average and a 46% checkout success rate.
Bunting will take on eighth seed Jose De Sousa for a place in the last 16, after the Portuguese overcame James Richardson in a topsy-turvy affair. De Sousa raced into a 3-0 lead before Richardson levelled, only for De Sousa to reel off three straight legs to triumph, aided by a clinical 121 kill in leg eight.
Simon Whitlock fought back from 3-0 down to dump out 13th seed Jeffrey de Zwaan in a Friday afternoon thriller. De Zwaan was averaging 117 as he romped into a 3-0 lead, but Whitlock won five straight legs to seize command.
The Dutchman levelled at five apiece but Whitlock held his nerve in the decider, sealing the deal with a classy 110 kill. ‘The Wizard’ now meets John Henderson in round two, after the Scot crashed in six maximums and survived three match darts to defeat Ryan Joyce.
2017 finalist Jonny Clayton suffered a shock whitewash defeat against Ryan Meikle, with the Suffolk star producing a clinical display to stun the Welshman. His reward is a tie against Darius Labanauskas, who edged out Pro Tour winner Harry Ward 6-5 in a battle of the debutants.
Photo Credit: Kelly Deckers/PDC Europe
2019 Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals
Friday November 22
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)
Stephen Bunting 6-2 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Jose de Sousa 6-3 James Richardson
Glen Durrant 6-2 Scott Baker
Max Hopp 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Chris Dobey 6-1 Cristo Reyes
Simon Whitlock 6-5 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Michael Smith 6-1 Martin Schindler
Ian White 6-4 Devon Petersen
Darius Labanauskas 6-5 Harry Ward
Mervyn King 6-5 Justin Pipe
Brendan Dolan 6-1 Ross Smith
John Henderson 6-5 Ryan Joyce
Keegan Brown 6-3 Andy Boulton
Ricky Evans 6-5 Steve Beaton
Danny Noppert 6-5 Ryan Searle
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Matthew Edgar
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-1 Steve Lennon
Gerwyn Price 6-3 Mickey Mansell
James Wade 6-4 Ted Evetts
Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Kim Huybrechts
Luke Woodhouse 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Luke Humphries
James Wilson 6-5 Peter Wright
Raymond van Barneveld 6-2 Nathan Aspinall
Ryan Meikle 6-0 Jonny Clayton
Joe Cullen 6-2 Kyle Anderson
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Arron Monk
Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Mark McGeeney
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Josh Payne
William O’Connor 6-4 Steve West
Jamie Hughes 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Rob Cross 6-2 Ron Meulenkamp