The second round of the 2014 BetVictor World Matchplay kicked off on Tuesday night in Blackpool, with 16 of the world's best darts players still vying for the £100,000 cash prize.
Defending champion Phil Taylor joins most of the top seeds in the second round after comfortably winning his first match, but Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis are in excellent form and looking to unseat The Power.
All statistics are courtesy of PDC.tv unless stated otherwise.
The second round matches were all wrapped up in Blackpool on Wednesday as the last four quarter-finalists were decided.
Wes Newton performed an extraordinary turnaround in the opening encounter of the evening in his match against Paul Nicholson. The local favourite looked set to take a thrashing as he slumped to a 5-0 deficit before finally getting a couple of legs on the board.
|Tuesday July 22||Andy Hamilton v Dave Chisnall||Chisnall, 13-10|
|Tuesday July 22||James Wade v Richie Burnett||Wade, 13-2|
|Tuesday July 22||Michael van Gerwen v Ian White||Van Gerwen, 13-4|
|Tuesday July 22||Simon Whitlock v Raymond van Barneveld||Whitlock, 13-8|
|Wednesday July 23||Paul Nicholson v Wes Newton||Newton, 15-13|
|Wednesday July 23||Stephen Bunting v Gary Anderson||Anderson, 13-8|
|Wednesday July 23||Phil Taylor v Michael Smith||Taylor, 13-6|
|Wednesday July 23||Adrian Lewis v Mervyn King||Lewis, 13-8|
However, Nicholson did not panic and opened up the five-leg lead once again to take it to 7-2 with Newton failing to find his rhythm and finishing poorly.
But he eventually found his feet as he slowly clawed back the deficit, producing an impressive 11-dart leg to make it 8-4 before he finally drew level at 10-10 having taken two-thirds of the previous 15 legs.
At 12-11 to Nicholson, the British-born Australian missed the bullseye to complete a 126 finish for the win and, extraordinarily, Newton eventually triumphed 15-13. His reaction was captured by the PDC's official Twitter account:
Gary Anderson’s match against Stephen Bunting came next and took a similar route to the opener as the former flew into a 5-0 lead. The Scot was not about to let his opponent back in though, despite Bunting pulling it back to 5-3.
Anderson stemmed the flow and was impressive as he kept Bunting at arms length for the rest of the match, his lead never less than three legs after making it 6-3.
Eventually he took the match 13-8, bagging his 10th maximum in the final leg as he reached the quarter-finals for the first time, per Live Darts, in a fantastic performance:
Anderson back to his best as he powers past debutant Bunting to reach his first ever World Matchplay Quarter-Final!— Live Darts (@livedarts) July 23, 2014
The Power came up next as Phil Taylor looked to get past Michael Smith, with the 16-time world champion billing a terrific encounter per Sky Sports:
It's going to be a cracker. On Wednesday we are in for a treat - I'm going to give Michael a game now. I want to have a good fight with him and let us see who is the best.
Taylor was in phenomenal form and, despite losing the opening two legs, he went on to win the next eight consecutively.
The highlight of the night came as the 53-year-old hit a nine-dart finish to make it 7-2, per PDC World Darts:
A 9 darter from Phil Taylor sees him now lead 7-2 against Michael Smith! Incredible stuff! #Darts— PDC Darts World (@PDCDartsWorld) July 23, 2014
That's Phil Taylor's TENTH televised 9 dart finish! #Darts— PDC Darts World (@PDCDartsWorld) July 23, 2014
Taylor saw things out with great efficiency and finished things off with a dauntingly impressive 10-dart leg as he overcame Smith 13-6.
The final encounter of the night saw a cracking matchup in the shape of Adrian Lewis against Mervyn King, with the latter taking a quick 2-0 lead.
However, Lewis found his range as he fought back and eventually took a 7-3 lead after six successive legs.
|Thursday July 24||Michael van Gerwen vs. Dave Chisnall|
|Thursday July 24||James Wade vs. Simon Whitlock|
|Friday July 25||Phil Taylor vs. Wes Newton|
|Friday July 25||Gary Anderson vs. Adrian Lewis|
The King threw some good darts to see himself almost back into the game as he took it from 10-5 to 10-8 with some terrific doubles, but he capitulated to give Lewis a break to go down 12-8 and hand him the throw for the win.
Lewis was never going to pass up such an opportunity and did so with great efficiency—and a 99.6 match average—to take the last spot of the final eight.
A mouthwatering lineup then for the quarter-finals with Taylor looking in stunning form along with an impressive Anderson, and James Wade and Simon Whitlock who claimed strong Tuesday wins.
Its all to play for in Blackpool as the quality gets ever higher as fewer and fewer remain.
The first four matches of the second round took place on Tuesday, and while all of the top seeds were able to end their night on a winning note, Blackpool still saw plenty of drama.
Dave Chisnall looked very solid in his opening-round match, but he needed to go deep to get past Andy Hamilton in Tuesday's opener. Despite never falling behind from the second leg onward, Chisnall still needed to play a total of 23 legs, winning 13-10.
Both players were in excellent form, recording averages well over 95, but in the end, it was Chizzy's dominance on the checkout that made the difference. The 33-year-old converted 13 of his 32 attempts and took advantage of several key misses from his opponent to take the win.
As shared by Live Darts, it will be Chizzy's first trip to the quarter-finals:
Ten 180s and a 95 average from Chisnall as he edges the tenacious 'Hammer' to reach the last eight in Blackpool for the first time!— Live Darts (@livedarts) July 22, 2014
PDC Darts World shared the full stats of the match, showing it truly was a close encounter:
James Wade had no such issues against Richie Burnett. The 2007 champion breezed through his second-round match, walking away with a 13-2 win. PDC Results shared the stat line:
(R): World MatchPlay, Last 16, James Wade (95.24) 13 (25) 2 (87.42) Richie Burnett #WorldMatchplay— PDCResults (@PDCResults) July 22, 2014
Wade looked very solid, but he was aided by a struggling Burnett. The Prince of Wales ended the match with an atrocious checkout percentage of 10.53, and his three-dart average of 87.42 was well behind that of The Machine.
Burnett couldn't leave the stage fast enough, per PDC's official Twitter account. They also noted how easy Wade made things look:
Van Gerwen had little difficulty in his match against Ian White, winning 13-4 in a dominant performance, per PDC Darts World:
Mighty Mike is the overwhelming favourite to challenge Taylor for the title, as the Dutchman currently leads the world rankings. He won seven legs in a row to put some distance between himself and White and cruised to the finish from there.
Van Gerwen wasn't happy with his performance in the first round, struggling on his doubles and needlessly complicating a routine match. He told Sky Sports' Paul Higham he'd have to do better in the second round:
I should have won this game much easier, I lost too many legs when I missed my doubles which always makes it hard for yourself. I'm not too happy with the performance but the most important thing is that I won the game, it was quite hard but the first one's always the hardest and I'm looking forward to two days off now. Normally I would never miss so many doubles finishes so it was a bit strange but at the end of the day I won the game and that’s what is most important.
The Dutchman turned things around on Tuesday, going 13-for-31 on his checkouts and sealing an easy win.
His compatriot, Raymond van Barneveld, wasn't as lucky, blowing an early lead against Simon Whitlock and losing 13-8.
The Wizard struggled on the doubles early and trailed 4-0 against his Dutch opponent, but after winning the final leg before the first break, he seemed to find his rhythm. As shared by Darts Lounge, his comeback was truly an epic one:
Whitlock is really motoring now. A 111 finish on the bull allows him to break, and he is now 8-6 in front. #WorldMatchplay— Darts Lounge (@DartsLounge180) July 22, 2014
Van Barneveld tried out new darts in competition for the very first time and was never able to string together high breaks even after switching back to his old darts, per Darts Lounge:
Van Barneveld has changed his darts, but Whitlock has come back from the break and broken the throw again. 10-6. #WorldMatchplay— Darts Lounge (@DartsLounge180) July 22, 2014
Whitlock is known as a player who fails to finish close matches on occasion, but on Tuesday, his checkouts were on point. The Australian remained composed and took care of business when needed, and it will surely boost his confidence going into a quarter-final tie with Wade.
The second round of the 2014 World Matchplay will continue on Wednesday, and all eyes will be on defending champion Taylor. The Power scored an easy 10-4 win in the first round, but Michael Smith won't make things easy for him.
Lewis and Mervyn King will end the night with what could be the best match of the tournament so far, with the former recording the only whitewash of the opening round and in the form of his life.