Three-time world champion Martin Adams was sent crashing out on the opening day of the inaugural WDF World Championship, after Lakeside debutant Jarred Cole produced a nerveless display to defeat ‘Wolfie’ in the tournament’s curtain-raiser on Saturday.
Adams – featuring in his 27th World Championship – was denied a dream Lakeside return by the Hertfordshire youngster, who averaged 92.69 to set up a second round tie against Antony Allen.
Cole dominated the scoring phase in the early exchanges, and despite a delightful 121 checkout from Adams in leg two, ‘The King of the Castle’ wrapped up the set 3-1 to seize control.
The 21-year-old strengthened his grip on proceedings with a magnificent 11-darter to open set two, and although Adams responded with a 16-dart break, back-to-back 15-darters from Cole propelled him to a resounding victory.
However, it was Jim McEwan who produced the performance of the opening day, averaging 101.32 to dispatch New Zealand’s Landon Gardiner in comprehensive fashion.
The 54-year-old has impressed on the PDC Pro Tour and the Online Live League over the last 12 months, and the Scot reaffirmed his credentials with a sparkling display on his Lakeside bow.
McEwan settled any potential nerves with a superb 12-darter to open his account, which he followed with legs of 16 and 14 darts to draw first blood with a 107 average.
Gardiner provided greater resistance in set two, but ‘Chucky’ sealed his progression in emphatic style, landing his first maximum and firing in a classy 121 checkout to triumph courtesy of another 12-darter.
Johnny Haines will play top seed Brian Raman for a place in the third round, after advancing with a convincing straight sets success against John Scott.
The 57-year-old relinquished the solitary leg en route to victory; averaging 89.64, firing in two maximums and taking out a 121 finish to book a tie against the Belgian, who claimed a PDC Tour Card back in January.
Dave Prins also impressed on Saturday evening, sweeping aside Mark Graham to reach round two, where another Welshman awaits in the shape of 13th seed Michael Warburton.
Prins performed superbly to reach the quarter-finals of the inaugural World Seniors Darts Championship in February, and ‘The Badger’ maintained that form on his first Lakeside appearance since 2014.
Graham held throw in a scrappy opening leg, but Prins responded with a clinical 112 checkout – sparking a sequence of six consecutive legs as he completed a dominant win with an 89.46 average, aided by a stunning 132 kill in the penultimate leg.
Justin Thompson registered victory on his Lakeside return, surviving a fightback from three-time World Championship quarter-finalist Paul Hogan to prevail in a battle of the veterans.
Thompson punished a sluggish start from ‘Crocodile Dundee’ to draw first blood, and he appeared poised to complete a comfortable victory after moving 2-0 ahead in set two.
Hogan responded with a 126 skin-saver on the bullseye to restore parity after Thompson had squandered two match darts, yet the Australian wasn’t to be denied, reeling off three straight legs in the deciding set to avoid a fourth successive opening round defeat at Frimley Green.
Elsewhere, Laszlo Kadar became the first Romanian to win a match at any World Darts Championship, surviving six match darts in an entertaining affair against Sweden’s Andreas Harrysson.
Harrysson produced an eye-catching 121 checkout en route to claiming set one without reply, but Kadar returned the favour in a high-quality second, registering successive finishes of 104, 135 and 96.
Harrysson established a 2-0 lead in set three to regain the initiative, but after spurning six match darts in a dramatic decider, the Swede was sent packing as Kadar pinned tops with his second match dart.
Canadian qualifier Rory Hansen will play PDC Tour Card holder Nick Fullwell for a place in the last 16, after recording a 2-0 victory over Mark Barilli on his big stage bow.
Barilli was punished for a profligate display on the outer ring, and Hansen held his nerve to condemn the Scot to a fifth consecutive first round exit at Lakeside.
Meanwhile, Ben Hazel will play 15-year-old sensation Luke Littler in the second round, after edging out New Zealand’s Haupai Puha in a scrappy affair.
Puha has featured on the televised PDC stage over recent years at the World Series, World Cup and World Championship, yet he struggled throughout against ‘Mr Ben’, who eventually came through a three-set marathon.
In the women’s draw, two-time finalist Rhian O’Sullivan breezed past Paula Jacklin in six straight legs to set up an intriguing second round showdown against Australia’s Corrine Hammond.
O’Sullivan averaged 85.89, landed two maximums and converted 46% of her double attempts to clinch an impressive whitewash victory, producing clinical 96 and 78 combination finishes in the final two legs to inflict another chastening Lakeside defeat on Jacklin.
Jo Clements will play sixth seed Kirsty Hutchinson for a place in the quarter-finals, following an impressive comeback victory over Suzanne Smith.
Smith made a confident start, posting four 140s in as many legs to seize control. However, Clements’ brilliant 123 finish on the bullseye sparked a sequence of four straight legs, and she maintained her composure in a dramatic decider to progress.
Elsewhere, debutant Marjolein Noijens prevailed in a hard-fought contest against Amanda Harwood, registering five 140s and sealing the deal with a 74 checkout to book a second round meeting with seventh seed Maria O’Brien.
Noijens is joined in round two by her Dutch compatriot Priscilla Steenbergen, who edged out Canada’s Darlene Van Sleeuwen in a tense affair. The pair visibly struggled with debut nerves, but Steenbergen delivered in the latter stages, firing in a 15-darter to claim set three without reply.
Image Credit: Chris Sargeant/Tip Top Pics
WDF World Championship 2022 Day One Results
R1 – Jarred Cole 2-0 Martin Adams
R1 – Johnny Haines 2-0 John Scott
R1 – Rhian O’Sullivan 2-0 Paula Jacklin
R1 – Ben Hazel 2-1 Haupai Puha
R1 – Laszlo Kadar 2-1 Andreas Harrysson
R1 – Marjolein Noijens 2-1 Amanda Harwood
R1 – Jim McEwan 2-0 Landon Gardiner
R1 – Priscilla Steenbergen 2-1 Darlene van Sleeuwen
R1 – Rory Hansen 2-0 Mark Barilli
R1 – Dave Prins 2-0 Mark Graham
R1 – Jo Clements 2-1 Suzanne Smith
R1 – Justin Thompson 2-1 Paul Hogan