So we are back at Alexandra Palace after the Christmas break for the continuation of the 2017 World Championships second round matches and a well oiled festive crowd are in for a darting treat. Off we go, with slow methodical measured plodder Austrian Mensur Suljovic up against the Welshman Mark Webster. With the Stereophonics blasting through the tannoy signalling the start of events the assembled masses were ready for the action. Game on !!!!!!
A 100 saw Suljovic away as Webster struggled with a poor 57; more slack darts from Webster allowed Suljovic first attempt at a double, which he made on double 6 despite missing double 12. A first 180 gave Webster the upper hand in the second leg with a 170 effort but he missed to leave 65 with Suljovic on a handy 120. Suljovic pulled up short, missing the tops on the shanghai attempt; Webster took his chance and took it out, 1-1. A 180 each in the next leg but it was too late for Webster who saw Suljovic claim the third leg on double 14. Suljovic, took the set convincingly in the next leg as Webster struggled to find any sort of scores and was unable to apply any pressure on the Austrians throw.
Webster started the next set well, doubling tops with Suljovic back on 157 and he seemed to be growing in stature and confidence but a 180 from Suljovic got him right back into it. Webster missed double 5 for the leg and the break; Suljovic made no mistake on double 14 again. As the fans proclaimed their love for the darts by standing up, it was Webster who stood up defiantly, knocking in another 180 but a calamitous throw at double 10 then double 5 allowed Suljovic in to break but he missed with 6 darts. Amazingly, Webster missed double 2 but Suljovic missed all three again on double 16. With nobody seemingly wanting the leg it was Webster who held his nerve to survive, clipping in the mad house to put him in control of the set 2-1. A smart 119 left a two darter for Webster for the set and after messing up the first dart his only option was the bull. 3-1, with a superb bulls eye over the top of the flight from his original first dart.
A missed 72 effort from Suljovic handed the initiative to Webster and he took full advantage on tops to open the scoring in the opener of the third set. A 180 from Webster and another tops finish made it 2-0 Suljovic was now twisting his face like Kevin Painters long lost brother as he allowed Webster chance after chance at a double. More bad luck for the Austrian as the referee cancelled Suljovic’s score as it was deemed that he had over stepped the oche with his last throw. Webster this time made sure and took the leg and the set 3-0.
Webster had double trouble, missing double 4 but was allowed to have another go as Suljovic missed his chance on double 10. Webster ended the leg on double two, again the lower doubles being his saviour. A massive 180 and his sixth of the match so far had Webster needing 81. He stepped up and made no mistake to put him in total control. He added more pressure on Suljovic needing tops for the set but Webster fired over the top then under to give Suljovic a chance. He missed double 15 and Webster had another attempt for the set. Again he missed, Suljovic sneaked in to slot double 6 to half the deficit and give him a lifeline. 2-1. Webster suddenly lost all composure failing to make a decent dent in 170 and Suljovic doubled 12 to make sure that he had a chance in the set. A crucial 140 from Webster followed by a 180 gave him breathing space in the deciding leg, knowing he had an 82 chance with a minimum of six darts for the set. He only needed two darts, bull double 16 for an eleven dart leg and the set.
Another 180 for Webster had the crowd on its feet and some confusion over the scores from the referee halted the game for a few seconds. Suljovic missed tops by a mile but so did Webster, Suljovic missed all three darts again, so did Webster, Suljovic returned and won the leg on double two and he saluted the fans in a kind of mock celebration, acknowledging the poor effort at double in the leg. Webster missed more doubles but was far enough ahead of Suljovic to have another concerted effort for the leg. He fired home double 2 yet again to make it 1-1. A big 140 was matched with a 134 from Webster keeping him in touch but Suljovic slotted tops and went into his trademark stuttering celebration. Webster out scored Suljovic and left himself on 70, with a least 6 darts in hand for it. He took it out on his fourth arrow to set up another decider; this time it could decide the match. Suljovic looked determined with a 180 as he raced to the double under no pressure at all. He picked off double 10 for the set and kept his tournament alive.
Webster was still favourite to go through but a 180 from Suljovic gave him a glimmer of hope at breaking straight away. It became more of a glimmer when he found double 6 first dart as the mood of the match had suddenly swung towards Suljovic. Yet another 180 from the big Austrian and a smart 98 left him 88 to go two nil up. A horrible miss, slipping into the wrong bed on the double gave Webster a lifeline but he made no impact. Suljovic then saw nerves get the better of him missing with all three darts; but it was double six, so often Suljovic’s saviour this time came to Webster’s rescue as he broke right back. Webster had 97 to take the lead but missed tops so it was Suljovic who made no mistake on tops to break again and go favourite for the set. A fantastic 137 from Webster had him first on a combination 135 but he could only leave 53; luckily for the Welshman he returned to level the legs and have the darts for the match. A pensive start from both players was smashed when Suljovic hammered in a 180 followed by another 180 for a massive chance for the set. He missed a double 16 but came back to get double 4 and take the set.
It was now all to play for with the match twisting like a 60’s disco. Suljovic just missed the bull for a 161 and also missed with his next three darts. Webster sweating profusely made double 12 to break and kicked off with a great 134 then added another to give him a great chance with only 56 left. He missed double 10 in the combination but returned to double 5 and go two clear in the deciding set. Webster was looking to see out the match but Suljovic was first to an out shot, needing 58 to save the match. He missed tops then double 10 to his own dismay. Webster completed the victory on his next visit, doubling the elusive tops to make it 3-0 and 4-3 in sets.
The next match was a battle of the singing to start; Neil Diamond being conducted by Daryl Gurney and The Proclaimers getting the crowd going on Robert Thornton’s arrival. A first 180 put Gurney in control of the first leg and a neat little 15 darter put him one up. Gurney made it 2-0 in super quick time on double 6 before he took the set on 76 with double 12 leaving Thornton shell shocked.
Gurney carried on the same way opening his account with a superb 94 in the second set. He had a chance for 5 consecutive legs and he did it brilliantly taking out 70 to double his lead in the set. A poor 60 from Gurney gave Thornton an outside chance but Gurney was having none of it firing home a two dart 87 for another 3-0 set with Thornton not even having a throw at a double in the first six legs.
Thornton got the next away with a terrible 21 to give Gurney the chance to race away but he struggled himself and it was Thornton who had a chance at 120; he left it handy at 60 but missed tops for the leg, then wasted three more darts on his return, letting Gurney creep up and make it seven out of seven on double 16. Gurney was away again but Thornton stopped the rot to take out double 10 for his first leg of the match. A big 180 from Thornton and a double 16 gave him a 12 dart leg and put him in front in the set by two legs to one. Gurney still looked unperturbed was carrying on like it was a practice session, doubling 8 to make it 2-2 and set up a decider. Thornton smacked in a 180 and a 140 to put him well clear as Gurney uncharacteristically struggled to score. Thornton took the leg with darts to spare and get his first set on the score board.
Gurney opened the scoring in the fourth set doubling 12 no problem. A missed 170 from Thornton gave Gurney a chance to break but he failed on double 10. Thornton was allowed to return but again missed his chance; amazingly Gurney bust when going for double 10 and this time there was Thornton burying the double to take the leg. Thornton broke the Gurney throw in the next, doubling 6 under some extreme pressure, giving him a chance to throw to level the match. Thornton made a superb 180 and finished off double 6 again for a 12 dart leg and more importantly the set.
Thornton slipped up with a 40 but Gurney had no response with an equally poor 56 letting Thornton realign himself and take the first leg of the fifth set to give him the lead for the first time in the match. Another 180 from Thornton and a double 4 outshot made it 2-0 as the game swung totally in the Scotsman’s favour. A 177 backed with a 180 helped stop the Thornton charge as Gurney made double 8 to put a leg on the board. A 140 followed by a 180 maximum put the Irishman in with a chance to equalise, and he did that no problem on double 16. Thornton threw a 140 and a couple of steady tons as Gurney didn’t record a treble until his seventh dart. Thornton missed tops for the set, Gurney missed the bull for the set before Thornton steadied himself and hit tops first dart to put him 3-2 up.
Gurney missed three darts at 14 after missing a dart at 122. Thornton first chance he got slotted double 10 and make him a huge unlikely favourite for the match. A mistake by Thornton, doubling 1 instead of singling it gave an unexpected lifeline to Gurney who took the chance with open arms; one all in the sixth set. Gurney looked beaten until that slip from Thornton but he was galvanised when he miraculously hit the bull for a 161 out to bring the house down. Gurney left himself 4 for the set and to level the match and he found it last dart after the first two went over the top. Three sets all.
Gurney had the massive ask of 170 for the opening leg but left 74. Thornton missed his chances and Gurney closed out the leg trebling 18 and doubling 10. A good 140 and a recovery 95 for Gurney gave him a chance at 82 and left 58 with Thornton back on 161. Thornton was unable to make any inroads and 58 was the magic number for Gurney as the match now spun back into his favour. Gurney was now favourite and left 54 with Thornton on 104. Gurney singled 14 and planted double 20 to take the match and show what a resilient character he has become, keeping his composure as the match seemed to be running away from him.
St. Helenian David Chisnall dressed in yellow faced one of the upcoming stars in Chris Dobey for a place in the third round. Would Dobey be dizzy or would he produce some ‘wonderstuff’ himself to send Chisnall packing?
Dobey got us away but it was Chisnall who got the first 180 of the match with his second throw and then took out 40 on double 10 to break the throw. This time it was Dobey who was amongst the 180’s but Chisnall checked out 86 in two darts to go 2-0 up. It was Dobey again who notched a 180 and a neat 140 on his way to setting up a 47 that he finished on double 16. A superb effort by Dobey for a bull finish was cruelly punished by Chisnall who two darted 55 on tops to take the first set.
A 180 start from both players had the crowd on their feet but Dobey was first to the double and he saw it off with a 84 shot. Dobey took the next and then amazingly added the next for a fantastic set on 82 with a great bull, double 16 effort.
Chisnall was back amongst the legs taking the opener in the second set on double 14. A 180 from Chisnall put him well on the way but some steady darts kept Dobey in the leg and he persevered to claim double 8 to level it up. The next leg was scattered with scrappy darts before Chisnall ended up in the mad house with Dobey back on 104. He missed all three but Dobey wired double 12 giving him another chance. Chisnall singled 1 but Dobey blew it missing all three of his darts on double 6. Chisnall returned and took the double 1 with his last dart. Dobey got his fourth 180 of the session and just missed the bull for the leg. He returned to finish off 25 and take the set to a fifth leg. Dobey started poorly with a 45 but Chisnall couldn’t step in and Dobey raced to leave 126. He then left it handy on 37 but he totally messed up hitting single 7 on his double as the darts slipped out of his hand. Chisnall got out of jail stealing the set he had no right to win.
Chisnall took the first leg of the fourth set on tops before adding a 140 to kick off the next. Dobey was well placed on 170 with Chisnall on 201 but some loose darts left him 112 for his next visit which he made superbly on the double 16. A brilliant 162 from Chisnall left him 32 that he got with his last dart despite his first two darts doing their best to block the bed to move 2-1 up in the set. Dobey took out a crucial 60 on tops to level the set and it was Dobey who had first go at a finish leaving 164. He left 64 for the set that he made on tops, two sets all.
A 110 on tops got Chisnall off on the front foot in the fifth set with an early break but another 180 maximum gave Dobey a 133 chance but he couldn’t take it and Chisnall made 56 on tops to give him a two leg advantage. Another 180 from Dobey gave him six darts at 161 and he could only leave 101 with Chisnall on 156. Dobey was lucky to return and saw off double 12 to pull a leg back to keep the set alive. Chisnall was well clear as Dobey struggled to find any sort of rhythm and Chisnall was even allowed the benefit of missing 5 darts at tops before he took the leg and the set.
Dobey had it all to do and didn’t help his cause needing nine darts to score just 160 points. Chisnall under no pressure at all doubled 15 for the opening leg of the set. Chisnall had three darts at double 18 for the second leg and he polished it off second dart knowing that he was throwing for the match. A 180 start from Chisnall followed by a 140 and another 140 set him up for an eleven darter for the match. He missed the eleven darter but made it through with his twelfth dart on double 16.
|Player||Player||Score||Match Average||180s||Checkout %|
|Mensur Suljovic||–||Mark Webster||3||4||91.23||92.79||8||8||21.05%||28.81%|
|Robert Thornton||–||Daryl Gurney||3||4||90.74||95.35||5||3||33.33%||51.52%|
|Dave Chisnall||–||Chris Dobey||4||2||92.88||90.71||6||6||37.84%||34.48%|
Photo courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC