The inaugural Perth Darts Masters got underway on Friday, with the best of the Professional Darts Corporation squaring off against eight Oceanic qualifiers.
The short format at the Challenge Stadium means that every leg is crucial, and while household names of the PDC like Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen have a reputation to uphold, nothing can be taken for granted on the Perth stage.
Here, we analyse the daily action from Down Under, assessing the biggest stories from Round 1 and beyond.
Finals Day: Phil Taylor Claims Perth Masters Title
Sixteen-time world champion Phil Taylor reigned supreme in the inaugural Perth Masters on Sunday, emerging victorious through a thrilling finals day at the Challenge Stadium.
Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Dave Chisnall and James Wade all came into the day’s action with their hopes of landing the trophy very much intact, but The Power simply blew away the competition—as seen below:
|Semi-Final 1||Phil Taylor 10-4 Dave Chisnall|
|Semi-Final 2||Michael van Gerwen 10-6 James Wade|
|Final||Phil Taylor 11-9 Michael van Gerwen|
A Taylor vs. Van Gerwen final is always an occasion to savour, and the clash of the world’s top two on Sunday once again served up darting quality of the highest order.
That was apparent from the very first leg in Perth, as Van Gerwen rattled off a 14-darter to spring into an early lead. The pair then held their respective throws for the next four legs, but 3-2 to the Dutchman soon became 4-2 after a magnificent break.
Heavy scoring saw Van Gerwen sitting on top with Taylor lagging back on 109, and when the Englishman failed to take out his total, the 25-year-old pounced.
However, Taylor then produced a “whatever you can do, I can do better” kind of leg, as he notched up an 11-darter to bring it back to 4-3.
That’s as good as it got for The Power for the next few legs, though, as Van Gerwen cemented his dominance by moving into a 6-3 lead thanks to lethal doubling.
The 54-year-old managed to square up the match at 6-6 courtesy of 14, 12 and 13-dart legs, and from then on, it was a case of who blinks first.
It took Taylor 17 legs to move into the lead for the first time in the match, but he did so in style, taking out 62 and 125 in successive legs to move into a 10-8 lead and on the brink of victory.
Van Gerwen delayed the inevitable with a fabulous finish in Leg 19, but the Englishman hit a 13-dart leg to close out the match and lift yet another trophy, as PDC revealed:
It was nothing more than he deserved after showing a great deal of resilience and class throughout the tournament, and he spoke to PDC after the final to reflect on a hard day’s work:
I'm over the moon to win this title. I thought it was a great final, we put each other under pressure and the momentum was swinging both ways.
Dave Chisnall did a job on me in Singapore, but I was delighted with my performance against him today. It was like deja vu for me when I went 3-0 down and I was letting him dominate me, but I got the job done well.
The 125 was a big finish at the right time and that was a big shot. Michael's a great player but you've got to dig in against him, and I did that.
While Van Gerwen remains on top of the world rankings despite Taylor’s victory, the way that The Power has been performing lately suggests that he could be returning to No. 1.
His new darts didn’t seem to suit him at the start of the season, but minor adjustments have made Taylor a force to be reckoned with once again, and more trophies will certainly be on the way.
While Taylor’s 10-4 victory over Chisnall in the semi-final may look like a routine day at the office for The Power, it was far tighter an affair than the scoreline suggests.
Chisnall simply flew out of the traps on the Perth stage, taking advantage of Taylor’s inability to hit doubles as he moved into a 3-0 lead.
However, a switch then flicked inside Taylor, who took out an impressive 141 in the fourth leg before going on the rampage.
The 54-year-old won nine of the next 10 legs to claim victory, with Chisnall unable to keep up with Taylor’s immense scoring power.
It was then the turn of world No. 1 Van Gerwen, who just about crept through a pulsating semi-final with Englishman Wade.
The opening 11 legs saw the players exchange blows, and at 6-5 to Van Gerwen, the match was still anyone’s.
However, the Dutchman then kicked into another gear, taking out three-figure checkouts with ease to confirm his place in the final thanks to a 10-6 triumph.
It’s another sorcerer vs. the apprentice final, and while Van Gerwen will come into the clash as the favourite, if Taylor continues his form then the veteran will have another piece of silverware to his name.
Round 2: Favourites Progress To Semi-Finals
The favourites came through in a big way on the second day of the 2014 Perth Masters, the first ever World Series of Darts event to be held in Western Australia's Challenge Stadium.
James Wade, Dave Chisnall, Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen all took care of business in the quarter-finals, as fans will get to look forward to a truly epic final day of competition on Sunday.
Van Gerwen took the win in last week's Masters event in Singapore, but the world No. 1 will faces a tough road to a second consecutive title, including a final against nemesis Taylor.
|James Wade v Peter Wright||8-7|
|Dave Chisnall v Simon Whitlock||8-6|
|Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld||8-4|
|Michale van Gerwen v Paul Nicholson||8-3|
James Wade 8-7 Peter Wright
James Wade needed a leg decider to get past Scotland's Peter Wright, but the Machine showed off his excellent form when it mattered the most, scoring a 14-darter in the final leg to finish double 18.
Fox Sports News had the final result:
England's James Wade moves into the semi-finals of #PerthDartsMasters after defeating Scotland's Peter Wright 8-7— FOX SPORTS News (@FOXSportsNews) August 23, 2014
Wade looked supremely confident during last week's Masters in Singapore and cruised into the semi-finals in Perth, but his tie against the colourful Wright didn't go as smoothly as he would have hoped.
Snakebite kept the match very close from the start, and with both players struggling on the checkout, neither was able to grab a decisive lead in the middle legs.
Wright took a strong option on the win by winning the 13th leg, but a missed opportunity in the next leg opened the door for Wade to work some of his late magic, advancing to the next round.
Dave Chisnall 8-6 Simon Whitlock
Hometown favourite Whitlock took a 5-2 lead before his old issues on the checkout reared their ugly heads once again, and Chizzy took advantage of the Australian's mistakes, coming away with an 8-6 win.
The Wizard defeated Chisnall in the semi-finals just last week but couldn't repeat those heroics, digging himself a hole by losing five consecutive frames. Livescore Darts shared this image of the victor:
Things could have been much different had Whitlock converted on a 132 checkout in the eight frame. Two superb hits on the bull were negated by a miss on a routine double 16 finish, and Chizzy started his comeback by easily finishing on double 18.
Whitlock kept his averages relatively high and scored several 180's, but despite leveling the score in the 12th leg, Chisnall clearly held the upper hand thanks to his skills on the checkout.
Phil Taylor 8-4 Raymond van Barneveld
The big Dutchman has struggled during the 2014 season, and running into an unleashed Phil Taylor was the last thing he needed in Perth. The Power bounced back from his dreadful showing in Singapore in a big way, as shared by Livescore Darts:
Taylor maintained an incredible 112 average for much of the match, jumping out to an early 3-1 lead and nearly scoring a nine darter in the fourth leg.
Van Barneveld was able to keep the three-leg differential alive by splitting the next few contests but saw all of his checkouts come on misses from Taylor, whose average was just too much for his opponent to handle.
The Power needed just 13 darts to finish, putting an exclamation point on a superb performance.
Michael van Gerwen 8-3 Paul Nicholson
The Power would no doubt have scored the win of the night if it weren't for Van Gerwen's utter dominance over Paul Nicholson, winning the first seven legs against his Australian challenger.
Nicholson tried mounting a comeback and managed to steal three legs before Mighty Mike sealed the win with a magnificent 11-darter, booking his place in the semi-final.
Via Livescore Darts, Van Gerwen seemed very enthusiastic with the result:
The match's defining moment came in the fourth leg, with the World Champion taking out a ridiculous 170 to finish in 12 darts. He then proceeded to take the three following legs in 13, 12 and 11 darts, respectively, at which point the Australian crowd forgot they were supposed to be cheering for Nicholson.
His final average of 118.21 says it all—in this form, Mighty Mike might be unbeatable.
|Phil Taylor v Dave Chisnall||TBD|
|Michael van Gerwen v James Wade||TBD|
Van Gerwen will play Wade in the second semi-final on Sunday, at which point he'll already know whether he would face Chisnall or Taylor in the final.
The Power has had Van Gerwen's number of late, and the Dutchman would love to avenge his embarrassing loss in the World Matchplay final in Blackpool just last month with a win in Perth.
Round 1: PDC Stars Reign Supreme
Day 1 of the Perth Masters saw the PDC’s elite outline exactly why they’re on top of the darting world, as they put the Oceanic qualifiers to the sword in the best-of-11 matches.
Paul Nicholson, Raymond van Barneveld, Dave Chisnall, James Wade, Peter Wright, Simon Whitlock, Taylor and Van Gerwen all booked their respective places in the quarter-finals with ease, as we see below:
|Paul Nicholson vs. Shane Tichoqitsch||6-2|
|Raymond van Barneveld vs. Loz Ryder||6-2|
|Dave Chisnall vs. Justin Miles||6-0|
|James Wade vs. Beau Anderson||6-2|
|Peter Wright vs. Warren Parry||6-1|
|Simon Whitlock vs. Vinjay Cooper||6-3|
|Phil Taylor vs. David Platt||6-4|
|Michael van Gerwen vs. Kyle Anderson||6-0|
The Challenge Stadium crowd were in full voice as Round 1 played out, but their underdogs couldn’t quite give them something to cheer as the PDC’s quality shone through.
However, spectators did have something to cheer when the Aussie Whitlock took to the stage, as journalist Brett Bonetti revealed:
The Wizard was roared out as “Land Down Under” echoed around the arena during his walk-on, and Australia’s No. 1 then took such electricity onto the stage.
While Vinay Cooper is no pushover in the darting world, Whitlock was simply too sharp and kicked off as he meant to go in the opening leg—taking out 164.
The ton-plus finishes kept on coming, though, with Whitlock taking out 108, and Cooper disposing of 106 in successive legs.
However, the Wizard’s scoring power eventually saw him cross the line, taking out double 16 in Leg 9 to win 6-3.
With the qualifiers all going down at the first hurdle, Whitlock now becomes the fans’ favourite, and the man himself revealed on Twitter that he’s looking forward to playing in front of the boisterous crowd again on Saturday:
Elsewhere, 16-time world champion Taylor was taken all the way by David Platt, with The Power failing to get a grip on the game throughout.
That was down to Platt’s excellent scoring, as he seemed to find 180's rather easy to come by despite the pressure of playing against the best player to ever grasp a dart.
Sitting at 3-2 to the underdog, it looked like we were going to be served up our first shock result of the day, but Taylor rallied back to win 6-4.
It was then the turn of the current world champion Van Gerwen, who simply demolished Perth-born Kyle Anderson to round off the day—as PDC revealed:
As always seems to be the case with the Dutchman, maximums were raining in, and the 6-0 scoreline rather tells the story of Anderson’s afternoon.
MvG will now face Nicholson in the quarter-finals, and based on Friday’s form, the Dutchman will take some stopping. Here’s a look at the draw for the last eight on Saturday:
|Saturday, August 23||Michael van Gerwen vs. Paul Nicholson|
|Saturday, August 23||James Wade vs. Peter Wright|
|Saturday, August 23||Phil Taylor vs. Raymond van Barneveld|
|Saturday, August 23||Dave Chisnall vs. Simon Whitlock|
Van Gerwen against Nicholson will undoubtedly be a thriller, but the quarter-finals have also served up some more mouth-watering ties.
Titans of the game, Taylor and Van Barneveld will face off and be the centre of attention in Perth, with the new best-of-14 format promising even more tungsten brilliance than Round 1.