Paul Lim produced a sensational comeback from two sets down to defeat two-time quarter-finalist Luke Humphries in a gripping showdown on day four at the World Darts Championship, as James Wade eased through to the third round at the Alexandra Palace on Friday evening.
It was a landmark night for 66-year-old Lim, who was making his 25th World Championship appearance, and 39 years on from his debut, ‘The Singapore Slinger’ rolled back the years to create another slice of darting history.
World Youth champion Humphries crashed in seven maximums in a pulsating affair, but he was left to rue TWELVE missed darts at double in an extraordinary penultimate leg, as Lim drew on his vast experience to set up a second round showdown against ninth seed Dimitri Van den Bergh.
“I kept telling myself to pressure him [Humphries] after losing the first set. I dug deep and it paid off,” said Lim, who famously hit the first ever World Championship nine-darter in 1990.
“He was very good in the first set and I knew that if I didn’t apply pressure then everything would come easy for him and I would be out.
“I felt really prepared for the match and I am glad that I managed to produce a good game and get the win. I have spent a lot of time on the dartboard in what has been a very difficult time for the whole world.
“I’m really grateful that the PDC put on a qualifier and that I won it and got the chance to be here. I’m very happy to take that chance. This is one for the old guys.”
Humphries drew first blood in a high-quality opening set, despite Lim leaving a two-dart combination after nine darts in two legs on Humphries’ throw, but ‘Cool Hand’ capitalised on some errant finishing from the veteran to claim the set 3-1.
The Premier League challenger wrapped up the second set by the same scoreline, although Lim refused to relent – claiming set three by the same margin, before producing a sublime 121 checkout to continue the fightback.
The evergreen soft-tip star survived a match dart in a dramatic conclusion to set four, before converting a clinical 84 combination to force a fifth and final set. However, Humphries appeared undeterred as he fired in a sublime 11-darter to move two legs away from victory.
Lim responded with a strong hold of his own to level, before capitalising on a dozen missed darts at double from Humphries in a remarkable leg, to move to the cusp of a famous win.
The 25-year-old rallied to leave 81 after nine darts, but having wired double 13 for a 12-dart skin-saver, he could only watch as Lim sealed the deal with a nerveless 14-darter on tops – his first World Championship win since his 2017 success against Mark Webster.
Elsewhere, nine-time major winner James Wade eased into round three with an emphatic straight sets win over a below-par Callan Rydz, averaging 93 and converting 47% of his attempts at double to set up a potential last 32 clash against former BDO world champion Stephen Bunting.
Jamie Hughes became the first seeded player to exit the tournament, as Adam Hunt booked his place in the third round with a convincing 3-0 triumph. ‘Yozza’ has struggled with injury over recent months and he endured a nightmare afternoon at the office in the capital.
Hunt, who impressed to claim a thrilling 3-2 success over four-time women’s world champion Lisa Ashton on Wednesday, crashed in four maximums and averaged 91 to set up a clash against either Rob Cross or Dirk van Duijvenbode in round three.
Van Duijvenbode set up an enticing showdown against fifth seed Cross after producing a sensational fightback to topple World Youth champion Bradley Brooks. The 20-year-old debutant won six of the opening seven legs to threaten a major upset, but the World Grand Prix finalist duly responded.
Brooks – the newly crowned World Youth champion – averaged 109 en route to claiming the opening set, and he maintained that momentum to double his tally. However, Van Duijvenbode produced an inspired rally, posting five 180’s as he reeled off nine consecutive legs to complete the comeback.
John Henderson overcame Marko Kantele in an attritional affair to book a clash against World Cup winner Jonny Clayton in the second round, whilst 55-year-old Wayne Jones also prevailed in a fifth set decider against Ciaran Teehan – his first World Championship win in nine years.
Last year’s quarter-finalist Darius Labanauskas will play Simon Whitlock in round two after easing past Chinese qualifier Chengan Liu in straight sets, and he was joined in the last 64 by Mickey Mansell, who won nine legs without reply to defeat Haupai Puha and register his first win at this event.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2020/21 William Hill World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Friday December 18
Afternoon Session (1200 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round
Mickey Mansell 3-0 Haupai Puha (R1)
Darius Labanauskas 3-0 Chengan Liu (R1)
Wayne Jones 3-2 Ciaran Teehan (R1)
Jamie Hughes 0-3 Adam Hunt (R2)
Evening Session (1800 GMT)
3x First Round, 1x Second Round
Dirk van Duijvenbode 3-2 Bradley Brooks (R1)
John Henderson 3-2 Marko Kantele (R1)
Luke Humphries 2-3 Paul Lim (R1)
James Wade 3-0 Callan Rydz (R2)