Michael Smith suffered a shock exit on day one of the Auckland Darts Masters after losing 6-4 to veteran New Zealand player Mark McGrath.
Bully Boy, the 2018 Premier League runner-up and recent World Series of Darts winner in Shanghai, was heavily expected to breeze into the quarter-finals at the Trusts Arena but he was well below his best and the 50-year-old Kiwi capitalised.
Smith threw four 180s but only averaged 83 having missed 15 darts at doubles while McGrath was slightly more clinical, pinning six of his 18 attempts.
McGrath's only appearance at the PDC world championship came in 2015, when he lost 4-0 in legs to Scott Kirchner while he didn't fare any better during his sole outing in the BDO version two years ago, losing to Scott Mitchell 3-0 in sets.
This therefore goes down as his biggest ever victory and will next meet Raymond van Barneveld in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
He told www.pdc.tv: "It’s the best win of my career but hopefully there are a couple more to come. I think Michael was a little under the weather but this is still going to take a little while to sink in."
He will now face Raymond van Barneveld, who claimed a 6-4 victory over Warren Parry with the help of four 180s and an average of 95.34 while all the other big-name players progressed against the Oceanic representatives.
World champion Rob Cross and Aussie legend Simon Whitlock both survived scares against Ben Robb and John Hurring respectively, winning close encounters 6-5 apiece.
Cross produced a piece of magic in the third leg taking out 150 to move in to the lead but Hurring was able to stick with the 27-year-old pushing the game in to a deciding leg.
The New Zealand thrower left 56 after nine darts but was unable to convert either of his two attempts at tops to move in to the last eight.
"I’ve been impressed with the standard of the qualifiers in the practice room, darts is getting bigger and bigger and the guys over here keep improving,” said Cross. "I needed a bit of luck tonight but if I come back tomorrow and play as well as I can then I know I’ve got a good chance of doing well,” concluded the champion of the world.
Unsurprisingly Michael van Gerwen bounced back form his nightmare World Matchplay by posting the highest average of the day - 102.45 - in a 6-2 demolition of Cody Harris. He nailed six of his 11 doubles, including a tops to take out his highest checkout of 120, which also won the match.
World Matchplay winner Gary Anderson showed few signs of jet lag as he averaged 94.52 and hit four 180s in a 6-3 triumph over Tim Pusey and will next meet MVG.
He said: "It will be good to play Michael, we always have great games so I’m looking forward to it. It was great to win in Blackpool last week and hopefully I can carry on the run here in New Zealand.
Defending champion Kyle Anderson was an impressive 6-4 winner over Haupai Puha as he hit six of his 11 double attempts.
The Original said: "I’ll be honest and say I’m having a bit of an issue with my confidence at the moment. In the practice room I was playing great but I just couldn’t transfer it to the start of that match.
“The guys over here are getting better and better and it’s so good to see players from this part of the world improve.
“The opportunity to play on TV is a massive chance to make your family proud and I think that’s why the standard of the qualifiers at TV events is so high now,” concluded the 30-year-old.
The quarter-finals will be played on Saturday (fixtures below) while the semi-finals and final will take place on Sunday.
Auckland Darts Masters: Schedule & Results
Friday August 3
First Round (All games best of 11 legs)
- Simon Whitlock 6-5 Ben Robb
- Rob Cross 6-5 John Hurring
- Michael Smith 4-6 Mark McGrath
- Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 Warren Parry
- Kyle Anderson 6-4 Haupai Puha
- Peter Wright 6-3 Tahuna Irwin
- Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Cody Harris
- Gary Anderson 6-3 Tim Pusey
Saturday July 14
(7pm local time, 8am UK time)
All games best of 20 legs
- Rob Cross v Simon Whitlock
- Mark McGrath v Raymond van Barneveld
- Gary Anderson v Michael van Gerwen
- Peter Wright v Kyle Anderson
Sunday July 15
(7pm local time, 8am UK time)
All games best of 21 legs
- Winner QF 1 v Winner QF 2
- Winner QF 3 v Winner QF 4
- Winner SF 1 v Winner SF 2