The 2014 Sydney Darts Masters kicked off on Thursday, pitting the Professional Darts Corporation's best against eight local qualifiers.
Phil Taylor headed into the competition as champion and favourite but knows only his best form will get him through to Sunday's final. Here, we recap all the action from the Hordern Pavilion as it progresses.
|Sydney Darts Masters 2014: Final Result|
|Phil Taylor||11-3||Stephen Bunting|
Phil Taylor produced a darts clinic to thrash Stephen Bunting and win the Sydney Darts Masters 2014 for the second consecutive year. The Power looked to be in sensational form throughout the final, triumphing by a comfortable 11-3 scoreline against the man from Liverpool.
Bunting did remarkably well to reach the final in what was his first-ever appearance in the World Series of Darts, but he will be the first to admit that when Taylor performs to that level, there are very few players who are capable of staying with him.
There was signs of Taylor producing a stellar performance here when he rattled off five marvellous legs in a row in his semi-final against Kyle Anderson. And although Bunting took the first leg of the match, once the man from Stoke-on-Trent found his rhythm, he was simply unstoppable.
In the second leg, Taylor struck a splendid 12-darter, while Bunting let him off the hook in the third with five missed doubles, allowing the 16-time World Champion to take a 2-1 lead.
That near miss seemed to refocus Taylor, though, and he went about putting the final beyond his comparatively inexperienced opponent with some scintillating darts. By the time the score had reached 10-1, The Power had rattled off 10 consecutive legs to put him within one of the title. And although Bunting salvaged a slither of pride with two late scores, the 11-3 win was a measure of Taylor's dominance.
For Bunting, this final was undeniably a huge learning curve. The man dubbed "The Bullet" showed that he is capable of scoring well, but his composure on the doubles let Taylor off the hook time and time again. A player with a little more experience in playing in these big tournaments would have made this a much closer affair, but Bunting will take plenty from this experience.
As for Taylor—who finished the tournament with an average of 99.99, per PDC.tv—he'll be starting to think about the World Championships at the end of the year. And if his performances Down Under are anything to go by, he's going to be a very tough man to beat as he goes in search of a remarkable 17th world crown.
|Sydney Darts Masters 2014: Semi-Final Results|
|Stephen Bunting||10-4||James Wade|
|Kyle Anderson||4-10||Phil Taylor|
Phil Taylor and Stephen Bunting will meet in the final of the Sydney Darts Masters after impressive performances in their respective semi-final matches.
Bunting put in an excellent performance to sweep aside James Wade in the first semi-final of the day. The man nicknamed "The Bullet" swept aside Wade 10-4 to book his spot in the final on what is his first-ever appearance in the PDC's World Series of Darts.
The man from Liverpool was the dominant force throughout this contest, and when he notched a 13-dart leg to take a 5-2 lead, the writing looked to be on the wall for The Machine. Bunting continued to pepper the lipstick with unnervingly accurate darts, and even when Wade rallied late to reduce the deficit to just two legs, The Bullet kept his composure to see the match out.
In the second semi-final, it was Taylor up against home-crowd favourite Kyle Anderson. The spectators in attendance were naturally right behind their man, and when he took out a stunning 167 to level the scores at 1-1, there was a sense an upset might be on the cards.
But Taylor is a man who's been on the scene for many a year, and The Power has showcased his ability to flourish in these hostile environments time after time. So when he rattled off five consecutive legs to go 6-1 up, there was little surprise.
Anderson was naturally deflated, and although he showcased some late promise in the match, Taylor never relinquished control, eventually running out a comfortable 10-4 victor.
|2014 Sydney Darts Masters: Quarter-Final Results|
|Peter Wright||6-8||Stephen Bunting|
|Warren Parry||2-8||James Wade|
|Phil Taylor||8-2||Dave Chisnall|
|Simon Whitlock||3-8||Kyle Anderson|
Taylor looks in ominous form as the Sydney Darts Masters heads into the latter stages. Despite sharing a 1-1 record with Dave Chisnall during their last two meetings, The Power rinsed his challenger with very little trouble in front of the Australian crowd.
The defending champion opened with a 12-darter, rounding off the first leg with a 121 bull's-eye finish, per PDC.tv. He repeated the 12-dart leg right away before finishing on double nine to secure a 3-0 lead. Chisnall posted a 13-darter to make it 4-1 after Taylor sunk a double 10 to increase his score, but this wasn't enough to significantly switch momentum.
Taylor sank a 180 and double eight to make it 5-1, with Chisnall simmering in the background to score his second leg directly afterwards. Unfortunately for Chizzy, Taylor's rampant form continued and saw him eventually post another duo of 12-darters to seal progression into the semi-finals.
Chisnall could do very little to halt Taylor, who posted a 110.36 average, hit 80 percent of his doubles and completed four 12-darters, plus consecutive 128 checkouts, per PDC.tv.
Home favourite Kyle Anderson, who slayed Raymond van Barneveld in Thursday's first-round tie, also continued to impress with a simple victory over countryman Simon Whitlock. While Anderson was forced to battle until the end against Barney, he was nearly out of sight by the time Whitlock warmed up.
Anderson established a comfortable 3-0 lead without needing to excel. Whitlock was buoyed by a 180 before taking the fourth leg, and he won two of the next three to reduce the score to 4-3 in Anderson's favour. Unfortunately for Whitlock, he landed double 16 when double eight was needed, providing Anderson with control once more.
It was 5-3 moments later, and then the capitulation began. Anderson strolled to victory from here and will be extremely excited to meet Taylor in the next round.
Earlier in the day, Stephen Bunting's clash with Peter Wright looked a corker on paper after the pair dropped one leg between them during the opening round. Bunting's minimal hiccup against John Weber didn't affect his confidence, however, as he scraped beyond Wright in a thrilling clash.
Bunting's ability to hit double 16 placed victory within his grasp during the middle of the tie. He fell back on this twice with the score at 2-2, managing to establish a 4-2 lead. Wright leveled but missed four doubles in the next leg to let his opponent off the hook. Snakebite continued to make mistakes and missed a vital double eight before Bunting sealed victory.
The challenge of the occasion was summed up by Bunting after he confirmed progress to the semis, per PDC.tv:
I was nervous again because it was a massive crowd but they gave us both great support. I finished the better and that was the telling factor in the end. If I play my game I believe I can go on and win this tournament.
Shortly after this, James Wade followed suit by easing past Warren Parry with an 8-2 deficit. Wade was 5-0 up before Parry secured his first leg, giving himself little chance of repeating Thursday's comeback. Although Wade dropped a double 10 and five to win the match, he soon finished double six to send Parry out of the competition.
Once again, both Taylor and Anderson grab the headlines before the pair meet. There's no doubt Taylor remains massive favourite to progress to the final, especially when he's in such effortless form.
Anderson has proved himself to be a real battler, though, ensuring his legendary opponent cannot afford to drop simple shots. That's exactly the mistake Van Barneveld made, leaving Anderson free to capitalise on a major opportunity in front of his adoring crowd.
|2014 Sydney Darts Masters: First Round Results|
|Dave Chisnall||6-0||Damon Heta|
|Stephen Bunting||6-1||John Weber|
|Peter Wright||6-0||Loz Ryder|
|Raymond van Barneveld||5-6||Kyle Anderson|
|James Wade||6-1||Shane Tichowitsch|
|Phil Taylor||6-2||Paul Nicholson|
|Simon Whitlock||6-2||David Platt|
|Michael van Gerwen||5-6||Warren Parry|
Phil Taylor powered his way into the quarter-finals of the 2014 Sydney Darts Masters on Thursday, comfortably moving beyond Paul Nicholson 6-2 at the Australian event.
However, "The Power" won't face rivals Raymond van Barneveld or Michael van Gerwen in the latter stages of the tournament after the Dutch duo suffered shock defeats to home favourite Kyle Anderson and New Zealand's Warren Parry.
Taylor assumed control of his tie from the early stages, moving into a 2-1 lead on a double 16. Nicholson showed signs of competing until the last and landed an excellent 180, taking out double five to stay in contention at 3-2.
It was all Taylor from there though, as the 54-year-old flexed his range to waltz into the next round without Nicholson adding to his score. Taylor finished on double 16, averaging 102.85 and a success rate of 50 percent on doubles, per PDC.tv.
Van Barneveld's loss earlier in the day is sure to make headlines. Barney surrendered to home favourite Anderson in a thrilling 6-5 loss which saw the underdog continuously fight from behind. His third 180 of the game, followed by a double 10, initiated a decider against the reigning Premier League Darts champion.
Anderson remained cool—scoring 140 and 180—before getting himself to the double. Another double 10 sealed victory in front of an ecstatic crowd, clinching Anderson a famous victory from 3-0 down. Van Barneveld drops out of the competition at the first stage for the second year in a row after losing via the same score against Clinton Bridge in 2013, per PDC.tv.
Elsewhere, Dave Chisnall thumped Damon Heta in the first match of the day. He advanced to the quarter-finals without conceding a leg in his opening tie for the second successive tournament, finishing with an impressive 103.66 average.
Chisnall was able to ease home the big shots, hitting 60 percent of his doubles against the recently crowned DPA Australian Singles Championship winner.
Stephen Bunting posted the same doubles success rate against John Weber, averaging 99.97 after throwing a trio of 180s. The Lakeside champion rarely looked in trouble during his 6-1 thrashing of Weber, who failed to gain momentum after missing two doubles in the opening leg.
One of the more memorable images of the day was provided by Peter Wright, who turned up in a fiery number before beating Loz Ryder, as tweeted by TAB:
Wright enjoyed the second whitewash score of the day and barely broke a sweat in front of the Sydney crowd. He slammed home six of eight doubles, leaving Ryder with little chance to save himself against an absolutely ruthless display.
James Wade moved through without any hiccups, finishing with a 76 on tops to beat Shane Tichowitsch 6-1. Simon Whitlock also progressed with a 6-2 win over David Platt, setting up an all-Australian quarter-final with Anderson.
It's Anderson's victory over Van Barneveld that will stay in the home supporters' memory. He battled excellently against one of the best, highlighting real self-belief to deal with pressure throws. Barney is sure to be disappointed, but will certainly hand it to an opponent who should be considered a dark horse to go all the way.
World No. 1 Michael van Gerwen suffered a shock loss against New Zealand's Warren Parry, taking the opening four legs before losing the final five and bowing out of the tournament. BettingAccas couldn't believe it:
The Dutchman twice missed double darts to close out the match, and with the crowd firmly in his corner, Parry started to believe in a comeback for the ages. Keeping his composure, he tied the match in the 10th leg with a bulls-eye finish and took tops in the decider, recording the biggest victory of his career.