Over the next 16 days, 72 of the world's biggest darts authorities will clash in what promises to be the biggest World Darts Championship yet.
With a record £250,000 first-place prize pot up for grabs, London's Alexandra Palace is set to get fairly heated over the coming fortnight, with some stars already impressing.
The PDC event will see 14-time champion Phil Taylor attempt to defend his title, but more than a few challengers will have something to say about that feat before it comes to fruition.
Peter Wright 5-4 Wes Newton
Ian White 4-5 Simon Whitlock
Saturday evening's action brought us the beginning of the quarter-final matchups, with Peter Wright and Simon Whitlock each overcoming their respective challenges by a score of 5-4.
The best-of-nine sets format couldn't have hoped for a more exhilarating introduction as Wright built on the back of his magnificent performances at the UK Open earlier in the year by booking another semi-final appearance this weekend.
Wes Newton was the man on the negative side of their nine-set blockbuster, and despite heading into an initial two-set lead, the standard wasn't tenable in the end.
Ian White's loss to Whitlock wasn't quite as unfortunate and "Diamond" quickly found himself on the back foot in their quarter-final clash.
"The Wizard" swiftly assumed a 3-0 lead before sacrificing three sets in a row to eventually tie matters up at 4-4.
However, the dream revival wasn't to be for White, and his Australian foe heads through to a semi-final matchup against Wright as a result.
Adrian Lewis 4-1 Mervyn King
James Wade 4-0 Devon Petersen
Michael van Gerwen 4-3 Gary Anderson
Saturday's action kicked off with a flourish as two-time world champions Adrian Lewis booked his place in the quarter-finals with a 4-1 win over Mervyn King.
The Stoke native overcame "The King" with relative ease and never once looked like throwing the result, especially clinical in his finishes with a success percentage of just over 54 percent.
Next up was James Wade, who sealed his place in the next round thanks to a masterclass performance against Devon Petersen.
Petersen was the last player to book a spot in the third round, but he wasn't in it for long and bowed out of the tournament after being shown up 4-0 at Alexandra Palace this weekend.
However, the story of the night was Michael van Gerwen's comeback victory against Gary Anderson.
The Dutchman had initially slumped to a 3-1 scoreline and looked to be on the brink of an exit himself, but some sensational darts from the duo ensured that the action wasn't over and Van Gerwen would eventually come out on top of a 4-3 result.
Scottish Anderson can be proud of his performance, pulling some magnificent quality out of the bag, but it just so happened that one of the tournament favourites happened to be the man opposite him, and Van Gerwen showed some champion-standard resolve to pull off his turnaround.
Justin Pipe 1-4 Devon Petersen (Second Round)
Wes Newton 4-1 Robert Thornton
Richie Burnett 3-4 Ian White
Simon Whitlock 4-0 Kevin Painter
Michael Smith 3-4 Peter Wright
Mark Webster 4-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Devon Petersen's 4-1 drubbing of Justin Pipe was the final second-round matchup of this year's World Darts Championships, the South African advancing to a third-round fixture on Saturday as a result.
However, Friday's real drama came later on as Mark Webster and Peter Wright each came out on the jollier sides of two seven-set thrillers, beating Raymond van Barneveld and Michael Smith, respectively.
Welsh giant Webster finished with aplomb against five-time world champions Van Barneveld, ending the final two sets with 3-0 scorelines following on from a tense first five.
Meanwhile, Wright's victory was arguably an even tenser affair, and although there never more than a set separating the two, "Snakebite" managed to also pull off a 3-0 leap in the final set to earn a much-deserved win over the man who beat Phil Taylor earlier in the competition.
Wright will now meet Wes Newton in the next round, the Englishman who saw out a far more rudimentary result against Robert Thornton.
The duo hit 11 180s between them, but it was ultimately Newton's ability to break that throw that paved the way to progress.
Simon Whitlock maintained one of the highest three-dart averages in the tournament with his easy step in front of Kevin Painter on Friday evening, "The Wizard" triumphing in every statistical aspect during his 4-0 demolition of Kevin Painter, who looked out of his depth to say the least.
James Wade 4-3 Andy Smith
Mervyn King 4-2 Ricky Evans
Adrian Lewis 4-1 Vincent van der Voort
Sixth seed James Wade has had a dramatic start to his tournament. In the opening round, he he had to survive six match darts from Darren Webster.
Facing Andy Smith, he needed more late dramatics to pull out the 4-3 victory.
Wade started off strong, but Smith battled to level the match at three. Smith soon found himself with two darts to hit a double 16 and end the match. He couldn't get it done, and Wade emerged with another win.
That was the big drama on the day at Alexandra Palace.
Two-time world champion Adrian Lewis cruised to an easy 4-1 win over Dutchman Vincent van der Voort.
It wasn't that van der Voort performed badly. He was just outclassed. Van der Voort averaged over 100 in the second but still dropped the set. He managed to win the third set, but he went quietly in the fourth.
Brendan Dolan 1-4 Gary Anderson
Kevin Painters 4-0 Paul Nicholson
Simon Whitlock 4-0 Jarkko Komula
Wes Newton 4-0 John Part
John Henderson 3-4 Mark Webster
Michael van Gerwen 4-1 Kevin McDine
Gary Anderson was able to celebrate his 43rd birthday the right way, by grabbing a rather easy 4-1 win over Brendan Dolan. grabbing the first three sets before advancing to the round of 16.
The next three matches of the day were simply dominant performances. Kevin Painter, Simon Whitlock and Wes Newton all came away with straight sets victories to advance to the third round as they all brought their best on Sunday.
The next match was quite a thrilling one. John Henderson came in to this round after taking down Dave Chisnall, the World Grand Prix runner-up, in the previous one, giving Henderson some momentum entering this match. He was even up 3-2 over Mark Webster before the Lakeside champion was able to come back with two straight sets, giving him the thrilling victory.
The final match of the day was all Michael Van Gerwen, as he won 4-1 over Kevin McDine. Van Gerwen got off to a nice start with a 3-1 win in the first set, ending it with a terrific 11-darter, but McDine was able to win the second set. It wasn't enough for McDine, however, as van Gerwen came away with the win.
Richie Burnett 4-1 Andy Hamilton
Robert Thornton 4-0 Beau Anderson
Ian White 4-3 Kim Huybrechts
One day after Phil Taylor caught the upset bug it was 2012 World Championship runner-up Andy Hamilton who next bowed out as a surprise exit in Saturday's action. Richie Burnett took Hamilton down in five sets of second round action.
But the real story of the day was Robert Thornton's impressive 4-0 sweep of Beau Anderson while visibly dealing with an illness. Thornton kicked off the round with a 180, but told PDC.tv that he was far from feeling 100 percent heading into the match:
I was sick before I came on to the stage and I just felt rough throughout the game," said the Scottish number one. "To end the game with an average that high is pretty impressive!
I’ve glad to got through in that fashion, under the circumstances. I need to away now and try and get myself right before my third round game after Christmas.
With Taylor out of the field it's clear that Thornton will indeed be a threat as the tournament progresses.
Ian White closed out the day with a seven-set thriller against Kim Huybrechts, the Englishman emerging as 4-3 victor on the night. After establishing an early 3-0 lead, White allowed his Belgian opponent back into the fixture, eventually leading to a 3-3 scoreline at one point.
However, the fairytale comeback wasn't to be as White sealed the seventh set, just about edging his way into the third round alongside Burnett and Thornton.
Peter Wright 4-2 Per Laursen
Raymond van Barneveld 4-3 Jamie Caven
Michael Smith 4-3 Phil Taylor
In the shocker of the tournament so far, reigning darts champion Phil Taylor was eliminated from the tournament after losing to Michael Smith in a seven-set affair.
Smith was superb in quite possibly the biggest win of his career, rallying after losing the first set to claim the next two. He threatened to go up three sets to one before Taylor evened things up.
It came down to the final set, and the 23-year-old mustered enough to get past the 16-time world champion Taylor and eliminate the reigning victor from the running.
"I'm lost for words," Smith told pdc.tv. "Nobody expected me to win and I had no pressure on me tonight, but I showed I've got fight in me, I've got tenacity and I proved I can play darts on TV."
Smith heads to face Peter Wright in the next round, as Wright eliminated Per Laursen in a 4-2 win on Friday. Laursen—a Denmark native—led two sets to one before Wright rallied for three straight sets to advance.
Raymond van Barneveld also advanced, but was pushed to the limit in a seven-set showdown with Jamie Caven.
The second round will continue on Saturday, with Friday's winners already advanced to the third round.
Mark Webster 3-2 Mensur Suljovic
Gino Vos 1-4 Ting Chi Royden Lam (P)
James Wade 3-2 Darren Webster
Wes Newton 3-1 Ting Chi Royden Lam
Kevin Painter 3-0 Tomas Seyler
James Wade was forced to work extremely hard when his attempt to land the World Championship got off to a testing start against Darren Webster, who led the tie 2-1 before missing six match darts to claim the win in the final leg.
Wade was given the opportunity to gather himself and pressured Webster into defeat with a 3-1 final set win. A close call for the world No.6, but a second round tie with Andy Smith now looms on Dec. 23.
Mark Webster was also made to sweat against Mensur Suljovic, who initially led the game 2-0 after a duo of close-fought sets. Webster stayed calm and levelled with an uncontested fourth set before setting up the win with an excellent 150 after Suljovic had thrust himself to the edge of victory with 130.
Webster maintained pace throughout the fifth set tie-breaker and pounced toward the end to take an insurmountable lead.
"It wasn't pretty, but I thought that, at times, I played really well," he told pdc.tv. Webster advances into the next round with a tie against John Henderson, who impressively beat Dave Chisnall on the third day.
Other wins were far more straightforward, summed up by Wes Newton's 3-1 dispatching of Ting Chi Royden Lam, who had previously beaten Gino Vos 4-1 in the night's preliminary round.
Newton had the potential to wobble when he was forced to come from a leg down in the fourth set, but the experienced player claimed victory by taking the decider on tops.
Kevin Painter's simple 3-0 victory over Tomas Seyler had many onlookers excited. The man who finished runner-up in the 2004 tournament dropped just one leg in an overwhelming win that saw him finish with an average of 98.59.
Be sure to catch the beginning of the second round on Dec. 20, when Phil Taylor faces World Youth Champion Michael Smith, who has nothing to lose in front of the British crowd at the Alexandra Palace.
A Smith 3-1 S Brown
M Hashimoto 4-2 P Lim (P)
J Pipe 3-0 A Monk
M Smith 3-1 M Hashimoto
A Lewis 3-0 D Smith
Adrian Lewis’ bid for a third World Championship crown got off to a flying start at Alexandra Palace as he swept aside Dennis Smith 3-0.
The No. 3 seed, who emerged victorious in 2011 and 2012, gave Smith little chance to get on the board as he produced an efficient performance to move through to the second around.
World No. 11 Justin Pipe also advanced with minimal fuss. The Englishman dropped just three legs on his way to victory over Arron Monk, who failed to reach his potential on the night.
Speaking after the win—per pdc.tv—Pipe said, "We both suffered from first round nerves out there. I could see Arron was really struggling and I just had to get the job done which I did.
"The main thing was to get the win and I can go home now, have a good Christmas, and prepare for my game against Devon [Petersen] next Friday.”
Keeping with the theme of the night, Michael Smith lived up to his tag as favourite as he dispatched of Morihiro Hashimoto.
The Japanese player overcame Paul Lim in the Preliminary Round earlier in the night and took a 1-0 lead over Smith but that’s when it started to unravel.
Smith, the 32nd seed, now faces the daunting prospect of Phil Taylor in the Second Round but he will need to up his level if he’s to trouble the World No. 1.
In the opening bout of the night, Andy Smith bounced back from a stuttering start to see off Steve Brown 3-1.
Brown came close to a coveted nine-darter in the third set, landing eight perfect darts before spluttering on the last.
Next up for Smith, the No. 27 seed, is the winner of James Wade and Darren Webster.
Colin Lloyd 2-3 Beau Anderson
Zoran Lerchbacher 4-1 Ben Ward (P)
Vincent van der Voort 3-1 Matt Clark
Michael van Gerwen 3-0 Zoran Lerchbacher
Simon Whitlock 3-0 Ross Smith
Michael van Gerwen opened up his World Championship account with a relatively uneventful 3-0 victory over Zoran Lerchbacher.
The Dutch world No. 2 is hoping to go one better this year after losing out to Phil Taylor in last season’s final, and he did what was required to negotiate his way past the first hurdle.
Van Gerwen’s opponent, Lerchbacher, looked impressive earlier in the evening as he came through his Preliminary Round match-up with Ben Ward, hitting an average of more than 90.
But the Austrian failed to carry his form into the contest with Van Gerwen, and last year’s beaten finalist was able to cruise through without reaching the dizzying heights he is capable of.
"I didn’t play great tonight, but the first round is about winning, not producing incredible performances and ton-plus averages,” said Van Gerwen—per pdc.tv—who now faces Kevin McDine in the Second Round.
"Last year's tournament was incredible for me, it was just disappointing to fall at the final hurdle. Walking out onto stage tonight brought some very special memories for me."
Simon Whitlock laid down his intentions with an impressive 3-0 win against debutant Ross Smith in the last bout of the night. The former runner-up posted an average of 97.35, in a high-scoring encounter.
Colin “Jaws” Lloyd was sent packing in the opening game of the night. The fan favourite fell 3-2 to Beau Anderson in an entertaining sudden-death bull-off.
Elsewhere, Vincent van der Voort beat Matt Clark in a scrappy encounter. Both players failed to fire but Van der Voort lived to fight another day, winning 3-1.
Ronnie Baxter 0-3 Ricky Evans
Devon Petersen 4-1 Mohammed Latif Sapup (P)
Kim Huybrechts 3-1 Ronny Huybrechts
Steve Beaton 1-3 Devon Petersen
Mervyn King 3-0 Darin Young
South African Devon Petersen stole the show on Day 4 of the Darts World Championship at Alexandra Palace.
The 27-year-old, who has spent the best part of a year on the sidelines with an arm injury, cruised into the Second Round, much to the delight of his new fans in the crowd.
Petersen saw off Malaysian qualifier Mohammed Latif Sapup in the Preliminary Round earlier in the night before upsetting former world champion Steve Beaton in the First Round.
Petersen danced onto the oche for the beginning of his contest with Beaton, and he never looked back, recovering from a set down to win 3-1.
“I got the crowd on my side and the support they gave me was incredible,” said Petersen—per pdc.tv.
The highly anticipated clash between siblings Kim and Ronny Huybrechts failed to live up to its top billing as younger brother, Kim, stumbled across the finish line.
The Belgian brothers looked nervy at the start of their encounter as Ronny capitalised on some errors from Kim to open up a 1-0 lead. He then had an opportunity to go 2-0 up but the chance slipped away and Kim bounced back to take the win 3-1, hitting a 110 checkout to clinch it.
“I was missing a lot of doubles early on and I got really anxious and tight,” said Kim—per pdc.tv. “Ronny was by far the better player and should have gone two sets up. I felt sorry for him when he missed those doubles but I had to put it out of my mind and concentrate.”
The first upset of the night came in the match between Ronnie Baxter and Ricky Evans.
Evans, despite beating Baxter in the PDC Championship this year, came into the contest as the slight underdog but steamrolled to victory against an out-of-sorts Baxter.
The Englishman won just three legs and hit five doubles in the 3-0 defeat.
World No. 4 Mervyn King rounded of the night with a comfortable 3-0 victory over American Darin Young.
First round action continues Tuesday at the Alexandra Palace.
Dave Chisnall 2-3 John Henderson
Dennis Lindskjold 1-4 Colin Osborne (P)
Raymond van Barneveld 3-0 Jamie Lewis
Brendan Dolan 3-0 Colin Osborne
Jamie Caven 3-1 Jelle Klaasen
John Henderson called his surprise win over Dave Chisnall on Sunday the biggest of his career, per Sky Sports, citing the importance of the Alexandra Palace atmosphere as one of the main reasons for his triumph.
The Scot glided into the second round despite consistent pressure from "Chizzy," building on an initial 2-0 lead to then go on and claim a 3-2 victory.
Colin Osborne's night began in similarly jubilant fashion when the 38-year-old eased to a 4-1 win in his preliminary meeting against Dennis Lindskjold.
However, the cheer wasn't to last for Osborne, who went on to taste a three-set deficit himself, this time against Brendan Dolan, who makes it to the second round of the competition for the first time since 2011.
Raymond van Barneveld's World Championship got off to a predictably simple beginning, 22-year-old Jamie Lewis offering the Dutchman little opposition. The youngster won just three legs on his way to a three-set mauling.
Hoping to win the PDC World Championship for the first time since 2007, "Barney" began his tournament with a good stride, boasting three scores of 180 and a three-dart average of 98.56, according to PDC.tv.
Sunday's first-round action was brought to a close by the meeting of Jamie Caven and Jelle Klaasen, where it was the Englishman—playing in front of a strong home support—who topped the 29-year-old Dutchman.
Klaasen showed a bit more of the clinical touch needed when claiming a 3-0 margin in the third set, but it was all Caven apart from that, with the Dutch contender proving too wasteful when it came to making crucial doubles.
Richie Burnett (Wal) bt Dean Winstanley (Eng) 3-1
Jarkko Komula (Fin) bt Mark Walsh (Eng) 3-1
Kevin McDine (Eng) bt Wayne Jones (Eng) 3-2
Per Laursen (Den) bt Terry Jenkins (Eng) 3-2
Ian White (Eng) bt Kyle Anderson (Aus) 3-1
Robert Thornton (Sco) bt Max Hopp (Ger) 3-1
Gary Anderson (Sco) bt Mark Dudbridge (Eng) 3-0
Andy Hamilton (Eng) bt Julio Barbero (Spa) 3-1
Paul Nicholson (Aus) bt Stuart Kellett (Eng) 3-0
Per Laursen (Den) bt Colin McGarry (NIrl) 4-2
Julio Barbero (Spa) bt Andree Welge (Ger) 4-1
A remarkable day of darts at the World Darts Championship saw two nine-dart finishes from two different players. Terry Jenkins and Kyle Anderson both produced perfect legs of darts, but it didn't help either progress through to the next round as they both crashed out.
The feat, which typically earns a player £30,000, is rarely seen in live competition play. So to see two on the same evening was a bit special to say the least.
Jenkins was the first player to land the perfect leg and he also managed to secure a coveted 170 checkout. But his opponent Per Laursen was much more clinical on his doubles and eventually sneaked a 3-2 victory.
Jenkins, a seven time major finalist quipped afterwards that he is not sure what he has to do to win a match! (from ESPN):
I didn't expect to see him play as well as he did. He hit the big finishes at the right time, and that's all that won him the game really.
I always have it tough wherever I go, whoever I'm playing. If I played someone who has never played before in their life, they'd have over 100 average against me.
Next up to hit the perfect nine darts was Kyle Anderson. And like Jenkins, the early indications for him were promising after a superb 110 checkout in the opening leg.
But his opponent Ian White regrouped, won the next few legs and went 2-0 up before Anderson leveled things up with a bang. 180, 180 and 141 followed, and the crowd were in raptures for the second time in just 60 minutes.
But credit must go to White, who responded by winning the next set and eventually emerging as a 3-1 winner.
Elsewhere, Andy Hamilton triumphed over Julio Barbero and Kevin McDine came from 2-1 to win 3-2, setting up a potential second round clash with Michael Van Gerwen.
John Part 3-2 Mareno Michels
Rob Szabo 4-3 Ian Moss (P)
Peter Wright 3-0 Joe Cullen
Phil Taylor 3-1 Rob Szabo
Richie Burnett 3-1 Dean Winstanley
Phil Taylor managed to squeak through to the second round of the PDC World Darts Championship with a close 3-1 victory over New Zealander Rob Szabo.
The defending champion came closer than he would have liked to making a shock exit at the hands of Szabo, who had won his preliminary match against Ian Moss earlier in the night.
Per the Daily Mail's Sunni Upal, Taylor said after his comeback:
"At one set down and one nil down I was very worried. He was very unorthodox and difficult to beat. Fair play to him he just kept on and hit the right shots at the right time."
Meanwhile, John Part triumphed over Mareno Michels in incredibly dramatic fashion, four of their five sets against one another ending with a scoreline of 3-2.
However, Canadian Part managed to shrug off the tension at exactly the right moment, winning the fifth and decisive set 3-0 and booking his place in the next stage of the competition.
Peter Wright's colourful attire lit up Alexandra Palace once again as the 43-year-old sent Joe Cullen home at the first time of asking in what was a fourth successive first-round departure for Cullen.
Wright eased to a 3-0 routing of his opponent, recording a three-dart average of 98.68 and beating Cullen in every statistical aspect of the encounter.
Lastly, it came the turn of Richie Burnett to progress in the competition, surviving a slight scare from Dean Winstanley to beat the 32-year-old 3-1.
After going two sets up initially, Burnett allowed "Over The Top" back into the match with a set of his own but quickly rallied to claim this third set, all of which ended 3-2