Dutch duo shocked Down Under
THE TAB.com.au Sydney Darts Masters began with two huge upsets as Australia's Kyle Anderson and New Zealand's Warren Parry knocked out Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen at the Hordern Pavilion.
Perth-born Anderson, 26, found himself 3-0 down as van Barneveld made a brilliant start to their first round game at the Hordern Pavilion, finishing 70, 111 and 90 to take command.
However, three missed doubles in the fourth leg allowed Anderson in on double 12, before he took out 120 in the fifth and finished a 13-darter to level the game - hitting a 177 score to set up tops.
Van Barneveld opened the seventh leg with two 180s as he hit back in 13 darts, and after Anderson levelled with a 14-darter, the Dutchman took out 84 on double 11 to lead 5-4.
A 180 helped Anderson to level the contest at five-all to send the game into a deciding leg, and when his opponent opened with three scores of 60 he pounced with two 140s to be first to a double before landing double ten to seal a memorable win.
The defeat saw van Barneveld suffer a first round exit in the Sydney Darts Masters for a second successive year as Anderson matched Clinton Bridge's 6-5 win in one of the finest moments of his fledgling career.
"I can't put it into words at the moment, but it feels so good," said Anderson, who hit a nine-darter in the 2014 World Championship before moving to the UK to be based full-time on the PDC circuit.
"I've worked really hard since losing to Michael van Gerwen in Perth last week. Once I qualified for this and found out that I was playing Raymond I got back on the practice board and it paid off.
"I'm no longer in awe [of the top players] and I'm in the mix. I know I've got the game and it's just got to come out, but I kept going and I got there tonight."
Anderson will now face the sport's leading Australian player, Simon Whitlock, in an eagerly-awaited quarter-final clash on Friday night, with the world number four overcoming Perth's David Platt 6-2.
Anderson added: "The fans were amazing too - I felt like a footy player! It felt awesome to hear them singing my name and to play Simon Whitlock will be a big thing."
Whitlock has never met Anderson before on the professional stage, but has been impressed by the 26-year-old's progression in the past 12 months.
"I've watched Kyle since he was a young boy and he's always had potential, but he's doing fantastic now," said Whitlock. "He's playing on the PDC circuit in the UK and it's really good to see somebody from Australia coming through and doing well.
"Fair play to Kyle, he played some absolutely amazing darts tonight. He was brilliant - he hit big scores at the right time and hit his doubles.
"I hope he's inspired by what I've done, and hopefully we put on a fantastic match tomorrow."
Of his own display, Whitlock added: "I got there in the end. Dave missed a couple of doubles here and there and had a few chances, but I was a little bit more consistent and hit my doubles.
"I've got my kids here, my family and loads of friends, so it's fantastic to be back in Sydney. I'm so glad I won in the first round, but I want to win here and it would be great for Australian darts and myself."
The drama of Anderson's win was eclipsed later as New Zealand's Warren Parry came from 5-1 down to knock out World Champion Michael van Gerwen 6-5 in a dramatic conclusion to the night's action.
Van Gerwen took out 152 and 164 in opening up a 4-0 lead and also led 5-1 before missing four match darts across two legs as Parry clawed his way back level before utilising the advantage of throw in the deciding leg to finish double top.
"It's the biggest win of my career," admitted an emotional Parry afterwards. "To beat Michael is just unreal - awesome - and I'm over the moon.
"Michael's a great player but he wasn't playing well and he gave me chances, and I took them.
"At first I wanted to win one leg and then take it one leg at a time from there, but the chances kept coming and all of a sudden it was five-all, and I held it together in the last leg."
Parry's reward is a quarter-final clash with seven-time major champion James Wade, who cruised to a 6-1 win over Queensland's Shane Tichowitsch.
"Tich is a really nice guy but I felt that I controlled the scoreline and it was comfortable," said Wade. "I've been playing well recently, my game's solid and I'm trying to get the confidence back in my finishing."
Reigning Sydney Darts Masters champion Phil Taylor came from a leg down to defeat Paul Nicholson 6-2 as he began his bid to follow last week's victory in the Perth Darts Masters with another triumph.
"I'm always nervous going into the first round because it's a short format, but I got the job done," said Taylor, who now takes on Dave Chisnall in the quarter-finals.
"Dave will be tough on Friday because he's playing well, so I've got to go up there and play proper darts."
Chisnall, the 2013 World Grand Prix finalist, impressed with a ruthless 6-0 whitewash of Perth's Damon Heta.
Chisnall hit six doubles from ten attempts in the game and also denied Heta a dart at a finish, ending the contest with a 103.66 average.
"I'm pleased with that because it wasn't an easy match," said Chisnall, a semi-finalist in Singapore and Perth over the past fortnight. "Damon played pretty well but my finishing was really strong.
"I'm playing well and I've had some good games in the last two weeks, but I'm focusing on this event now and I'll do my best on Friday."
Peter Wright matched Chisnall's whitewash win with a 6-0 victory over current DPA Australian Grand Prix number one Loz Ryder, with the World Championship finalist hitting six doubles from eight attempts.
"I wasn't happy with my scoring but I hit my doubles well," said Wright. "I'm glad to win and I'm feeling better here in Sydney than I have done in the last couple of weeks.
"I've got my belief back, and hopefully I can leave here a winner."
Wright's quarter-final opponent will be Stephen Bunting, the Lakeside Champion who enjoyed a memorable World Series of Darts debut with a 6-1 win over qualifier John Weber, ending the game with a 100 average and three 180s.
"I'm really happy with that," said Bunting. "I was a bit nervous because it was a great crowd and they gave John brilliant support, but it's a privilege to be a part of this event and I'd love to go all the way now."
The TAB.com.au Sydney Darts Masters continue on Friday with the quarter-finals at the Hordern Pavilion from 8pm, before Saturday sees the semi-finals and final take place.
Results and Schedule
Dave Chisnall 6-0 Damon Heta
Stephen Bunting 6-1 John Weber
Peter Wright 6-0 Loz Ryder
Kyle Anderson 6-5 Raymond van Barneveld
James Wade 6-1 Shane Tichowitsch
Phil Taylor 6-2 Paul Nicholson
Simon Whitlock 6-2 David Platt
Warren Parry 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
Friday August 29 (8pm)
Peter Wright v Stephen Bunting
Warren Parry v James Wade
Phil Taylor v Dave Chisnall
Simon Whitlock v Kyle Anderson
Best of 15 legs
Saturday August 30 (8pm local time)
Parry/Wade v Wright/Bunting
Taylor/Chisnall v Whitlock/Anderson
Best of 19 legsFinal
Best of 21 legs