A review of Tuesday's action at the Betfred World Matchplay in Blackpool, where Glen Durrant defeated Michael van Gerwen in a thriller while Gary Anderson crashed out.
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Duzza denies MVG in Blackpool epic
Glen Durrant won the battle of the world champions as he defeated Michael van Gerwen 13-11 in a World Matchplay classic that will live long in the memory.
The three-time Lakeside king, who emulated Eric Bristow's record of three successive BDO world titles before crossing over to the PDC at Q School back in January, was playing the game of his life to lead MVG 8-5 but a brilliant comeback including an 11-darter and a 134 checkout saw the Dutchman move 10-9 up and one leg from victory.
Durrant responded with a 112 checkout to force a tie-break situation but after breaking the three-time PDC world champion in the very next leg he couldn't capitalise on his own throw.
As both players struggled in such a tense and raucous atmosphere in equal measure, Duzza got his nose back in front with an 84 checkout when MVG waited on tops, earning the chance to throw for the match once again.
Neither man was able to take such a decisive leg by the scruff of the neck but after van Gerwen failed to take out 86 on the bullseye, Duzza pinned tops to complete a famous victory that'll live long in the memory.
"It's the best day of my life," said Durrant, who plays James Wade next, after he'd broken down in tears at the winning moment.
He later told www.pdc.tv: "This night will live with me forever, I've never experienced a crowd getting behind me like that. At times I forgot I was playing Michael van Gerwen, and when I realised I was in with a chance of winning the emotions were incredible.
"I went for a walk on the beach earlier today and I ended up getting sunburn, and that along with the incredible heat up there made it even harder for me.
"I now need to go away, relax and contemplate what I've done and look ahead to the rest of the tournament, but whatever happens from now on in my career this moment will never be taken away from me."
The Teesider, who had beaten MVG in their first ever meeting en route to winning his second Players Championship title of a dream debut season in the PDC, averaged 99.56 although it was well above 100 for a good chunk of the match.
MVG looked on course to end his run of failing to record a three-figure average in 12 matches but ended up with 98.67 while he hit one fewer maximum than Durrant with seven.
The 48-year-old's finishing was also marginally superior as he nailed 12 of his 28 attempts at doubles as MVG missed 16 of his although the world number one did manage a blockbusting match high checkout of 134 when levelling the match at 8-8.
Van Gerwen's hopes of lifting this prestigious trophy for the third time - and first since 2016 - are up in smoke and doubters will again question his dominance in the game and the glaring chinks in his armour that are appearing with every passing week, most notably his doubles.
He may have bagged a fifth Masters, fifth Premier League and six other events this season since his third world title but since claiming the last of those at the O2, he's almost been a shadow of his former self.
King dethrones defending champion
Mervyn King produced a gutsy display to defeat defending champion Gary Anderson and reach his first televised quarter-final since the 2016 World Matchplay.
The unseeded 53-year-old trailed 8-7 but won four legs on the trot, including a match-winning 12 darter with a 90 checkout, to claim a famous upset.
That said, it wasn't quite as big a shock as it would have been last season given the Flying Scotsman's injury disrupted 2019 which has left him struggling for consistency - aside from his success at the World Cup of Darts - but that's to take nothing away from The King.
Having brilliantly beaten UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall with one of the best performances of the opening round, the Norfolk thrower shrugged off Anderson's 130 checkout that completed a 12-darter in the very first leg to storm into a 5-1 lead thanks to an impressive 122 of his own.
Anderson was struggling similarly to his previous match against Danny Noppert but then found another gear to take six of the next seven legs as the momentum shifted almost entirely into his favour.
King stopped the rot in style when his match-high checkout of 136 completed a fine 12-darter and although the two-time world champion then held his throw to edge 8-7 ahead, that would be the last leg he'd win in Blackpool this year.
King has never won a televised title since switching to the PDC in 2007 but he has managed to reach five major finals - the Premier League (2009), Masters (2014), World Grand Prix (2012), Players Championship Finals (2010) and the now discontinued Championship League (2008).
Bully Boy overcomes double troubles
Michael Smith came through a compelling second-round clash against Max Hopp to reach the World Matchplay quarter-finals for the first time - but he'll need to improve on his finishing to get much further.
The St Helens man had only won three matches on the Winter Gardens stage in six previous visits but much is expected of him this year as he chases a maiden televised major having come so close at the 2019 World Championship and 2018 Premier League.
Smith, tipped up on these pages at 25/1 each-way, scored well and hit six 180s but despite ton plus checkouts of 130 and 120, he was poor on his finishing and spurned 25 darts at doubles.
Bully Boy looked in all kind of bother early on as six of those fluffed double attempts came in the fourth and fifth legs to gift Hopp with a 4-1 lead but, similar to his first-round comeback against Jamie Hughes, he burst into life by taking the next five in a row including a 130 checkout and an impressive 11-darter.
The next two legs were shared before Hopp won a calamitous 13th in 23 darts after both players had missed seven doubles between them following below-par scoring to reach a finish but the German star raised his game in the next to take it in 11 and level the scores at 7-7.
Back-to-back break of throws followed as both players stuttered close to the finishing line and more nightmare finishing from Smith when allowed Hopp to edge ahead again at 9-8.
Two legs later Smith would then bust his score when attempting to take out 25 as his fellow former World Youth champion moved to one leg of victory at 10-9 but he responded in style with a shanghai checkout to force a tie-break situation.
At that point, the 2018 Shanghai Darts Masters champion got his act together with 15 and 13-dart legs to move into the last eight.
Smith averaged 96.91 compared to his opponent's 93.06 and hit two more maximums. Hopp hit 10 of his 23 darts at doubles and his high finish was 98.
Wade comes through war of attrition
James Wade once again drew on all his battling qualities to edge past Mensur Suljovic 13-11 in a titanic second-round tussle that went to a tie-break in Blackpool.
The Machine, who came from 9-6 down and survived five match darts against Jeffrey de Zwaan on Sunday night, was in real trouble when Suljovic moved into a commanding 8-5 lead following an even opening 10 legs but he won the next four, including a 141 checkout, to take charge.
The European and World Series of Darts Finals champion, who has won four PDC titles this season, was aided by the Austrian's five missed darts at doubles during that run of momentum but then he was punished for a spurned attempt at tops as Suljovic made it 9-9.
The pair traded brilliant 13-dart holds under real pressure before Suljovic claimed what seemed to be a crucial break after the Englishman had missed the bullseye for a 95 checkout.
Wade broke back then held his throw in a sloppy leg as nerves affected both players before just about stumbling over the line with an 18-darter after last year's runner-up missed a dart at double seven to keep the match alive.
The 2007 champion averaged 94.48 compared to Suljovic's 92.91, his finishing of 12 from 29 attempts was more clinical than his opponent's 11 from 32 but he his pair of 180s was two fewer.
Wade's other ton+ checkout was a superb effort from 134 to go 3-2 up while Suljovic managed a high of 101.
Tuesday results & Wednesday schedule
Tuesday July 23 (1900 BST)
Second Round (best of 21 legs)
TV Channel: Sky Sports
- Michael Smith 12-10 Max Hopp
- James Wade 13-11 Mensur Suljovic
- Gary Anderson 8-11 Mervyn King
- Michael Van Gerwen 11-13 Glen Durrant
Wednesday July 24 (1900 BST)
Second Round (best of 21 legs)
TV Channel: Sky Sports
- Daryl Gurney v Keegan Brown
- Stephen Bunting v Ian White
- Rob Cross v Krzysztof Ratajski
- Peter Wright v Simon Whitlock