Scott Mitchell edged out two-time winner Scott Waites in a battle of the former world champions to reach his first World Championship semi-final since capturing his 2015 crown, as Lisa Ashton and Mikuru Suzuki progressed to the women’s final on Friday night at the Indigo at the O2.
Mitchell and Waites were the only former champions remaining in the men’s field and the World Cup teammates served up a World Championship classic on a day which also saw second seed Jim Williams move through the last four for the second year in succession.
Scott Mitchell 5-4 Scott Waites
Mitchell prevailed in a pulsating battle of the former world champions in arguably the game of the tournament thus far. Both players underlined their credentials in a game littered with quality, but it was the Dorset star who triumphed with a 92.53 average to reach the last four.
Mitchell claimed the early spoils with a first set average of 100, posting legs of 16, 15 and 14 darts. Waites’ riposte was emphatic however, as the former Grand Slam champion reeled off three straight legs in 14, 16 and 14 darts, which featured two-dart 68 and 78 combinations.
Mitchell kicked off the third with a tidy 91 outshot, only for Waites to win three more on the spin to move 2-1 ahead with a 97 average, although ‘Scotty Dog’ did consolidate his early advantage in set four, created by a 96 kill – to level up matters at two apiece.
Waites rattled off the fifth set in 15, 15 and 14 darts to regain the lead, but the pendulum continued to swing in a remarkable sixth set which all five legs go against the throw. ‘Scotty 2 Hotty’ missed one dart for a 4-2 cushion and Mitchell followed up his fifth 180 with a 14-dart break to equalise.
This looked like being a pivotal moment as Mitchell stormed to the seventh set without relinquishing a leg and the 2015 champion carved out a break opportunity midway through the eighth. However, he was unable to take it and Waites pounced, firing in an 11-darter to force a ninth and deciding set.
Mitchell had the advantage of throw and established a 2-0 cushion to close in on just his second World Championship semi-final, until Waites delivered a stunning 88 skin-saver on the bull. However, the 42-year-old missed double 16 to force a tie-break and Mitchell sank a nerveless 68 kill to seal it.
Jim Williams 5-1 Paul Hogan
Second seed Williams is through to the semi-finals for the second straight year after recording an emphatic 5-1 win over an off-colour Hogan. Hogan boasted the highest tournament average heading into the quarter-finals, but ‘Crocodile Dundee’ endured a nightmare evening at the Indigo.
Hogan started confidently, stealing an early march with 76 and 116 finishes as he appeared poised to replicate the performances that saw him defeat Adam Smith-Neale and Martijn Kleermaker, but suddenly the 56-year-old completely lost his way, with Williams taking out 105 to hit the front.
‘The Quiff’ won six of the next seven legs to race into a three-set advantage with Hogan’s average languishing at a miserly 76, although the interval provided some temporary relief for the 56-year-old old, who produced legs of 13, 15 and 14 darts in set four to open his account.
Nevertheless, Hogan’s brief resurgence was curtailed in the fifth as Williams cleaned up a classy 105 combination to restore his cushion and with Hogan plagued by inconsistency, the Welshman wrapped up the win with legs of 17, 17 and 14 darts to prevail 5-1 with an 86.81 average.
Mario Vandenbogaerde 5-3 David Evans
Williams will meet Vandenbogaerde in the semi-finals, after the Belgian battled past Evans in a clash of the debutants. ‘Super Mario’ raced out of the blocks only for Evans to level, but the 46-year-old kept his cool in the latter stages to reach his second major semi-final of the season.
Vandenbogaerde won the opening 11 legs of his clash against Dennie Olde Kalter in round two and he enjoyed a similarly swift start against ‘Stretch’, winning the first five legs before defying a late rally in set two from Evans to double his tally with a clutch 124 combination on the bull.
Evans embarked on a sequence of four straight legs to reduce the arrears to 2-1, only for Vandenbogaerde to conjure up a timely 11-darter en route to restoring his two-set buffer. Nevertheless, Evans wasn’t to be disheartened, rounding off a clean sweep in set five with an 11-darter of his own.
The pair traded classy 121 checkouts in a quality sixth set which Evans claimed to restore parity at three apiece, but the Belgian edged a nervy seventh set to regain the lead at 4-3, before registering legs of 11, 16 and 14 darts in the eighth to seal his progression with an 89.50 average.
Wayne Warren 5-3 Chris Landman
Warren secured a spot in his first World Championship semi-final after firing in 15 maximums en route to a 5-3 victory over Landman. The fifth seed comprehensively outscored the Dutchman but spurned 49 darts at double; eventually sealing the deal with his ninth match dart.
The Welshman drew first blood in the quarter-final, checking out 98 and following that up with a 14-dart break after the pair exchanged holds to kick off proceedings. The roles were reversed in the second however, as Landman reeled off back-to-back legs to level.
The third set was a tale of missed opportunities for Warren as Landman established a 2-1 cushion, although with the Dutchman poised to extend his buffer in the fourth, Warren posted visits of 180, 140 and 165 to leave 16 after 9 darts in a fourth set decider, closing out the leg in 12 darts.
The fifth set was a high-quality affair. Landman kicked it off with a 121 on the bull only for Warren to reply with legs of 12 and 13 darts. The Dutch qualifier hit back with a 14-dart hold, before Warren converted 276 in just five darts and swept to set six without reply to seal control 4-2.
The seventh set saw all four legs won via double 10 as Landman capitalised on some errant finishing from his opponent to reduce the arrears to 4-3, although Warren fired in legs of 11 and 13 darts to move to the cusp before overcoming some late double-trouble to prevail with his ninth match dart.
Top seed Lisa Ashton secured a place in her sixth World Championship final after sweeping aside 2017 finalist Corrine Hammond in six consecutive legs. ‘The Lancashire Rose’ made a blistering start and finished with an 84.28 average to progress to Saturday’s showpiece without dropping a solitary set.
The four-time world champion began with legs of 13 and 17 darts, before closing out a scrappy leg after the Australian squandered four darts at double. Ashton was rattling through proceedings and she continued the procession with a 16-dart break on tops.
Hammond produced statistically her best display of the tournament but was unable to lay a glove on Ashton, missing two more at double to open her account after piling in her first 180. She wasn’t afforded a further opportunity, as Ashton completed the rout with another 16-dart leg.
Ashton will take on reigning champion Mikuru Suzuki for the title, after the Japanese star defeated teenage sensation Beau Greaves in a deciding set tussle. Suzuki stunned Ashton on debut in last year’s first round and ‘Miracle’ will be hoping to replicate those heroics and retain her title.
The pair traded holds to kick off the contest, before Greaves landed a fine 70 finish on the bull to hold. Suzuki followed up a 150 set-up shot by pinning double 16 to force a set decider, before snatching the set via double eight after Greaves crucially bust a 51 checkout by hitting the treble 19.
Greaves responded magnificently – crashing in her first maximum en route to a 15-dart break before taking out 76 to tighten her grip on set two. Suzuki was throwing some wayward darts and the 16-year-old duly capitalised, nailing double 16 to force a third and deciding set.
However, the interval appeared to quash the youngster’s momentum and experience paid dividends in the decider. Suzuki converted three of her four attempts at double and timed her big visits to perfection to seal the victory and maintain her seven-game winning run in this competition.
Photo Credit: Chris Sargeant/Tip Top Pics
Wayne Warren 5-3 Chris Landman (QFs)
Lisa Ashton 2-0 Corrine Hammond (SFs)
Mario Vandenbogaerde 5-3 David Evans (QFs)
Jim Williams 5-1 Paul Hogan (QFs)
Mikuru Suzuki 2-1 Beau Greaves (SFs)
Scott Mitchell 5-4 Scott Waites (QFs)