Michael van Gerwen began his bid to win a fifth title at the Interwetten European Darts Open with a scintillating win over Daryl Gurney on Saturday, as Peter Wright was ousted by Scott Williams.
The Dutchman has enjoyed success in the PDC European Tour event four times previously, including in 2018 and 2019 in the most two recent visits to Leverkusen.
He averaged a stunning 113.79 to defeat Gurney 6-3 in their second round tie on Saturday night, missing double 12 for a nine-dart finish in the process.
Gurney played his part as he shared the opening six legs, and he had a chance to win the seventh despite Van Gerwen’s narrow miss for a perfect leg.
However, the Northern Irishman wired double 14 for a 121 checkout to allow Van Gerwen back in to complete a ten-darter, and the Dutchman ruthlessly closed out the victory in the next two legs.
“Daryl pushed me in the beginning of the game,” said Van Gerwen, who has won two of this year’s four European Tour events so far.
“I missed a few darts here and there and that puts you under pressure. I still had a couple of really good legs.
“To be playing back here in Leverkusen is always good. I also want to do well because I think the crowd here deserve it and I need to make sure I keep my focus going. I feel good but tomorrow is another day.”
Van Gerwen’s bid to claim another £25,000 title will see him take on Cazoo Premier League table-topper Jonny Clayton in Sunday afternoon’s third round.
Clayton landed a brace of 121 bull finishes in his 6-2 win over Rowby-John Rodriguez at the Ostermann-Arena on Saturday night, finishing six doubles from ten attempts in a dominant display.
Williams enjoyed the biggest win of his career with a 6-4 defeat of World Champion Wright, securing a spot in the last 16 on his European Tour debut.
Wright led 2-1 early on, but a total of 15 missed doubles allowed Williams – the current Winmau Challenge Tour Order of Merit leader – in to condemn the world number one to a second round exit in a third successive European Tour event.
“That wasn’t the Peter we all know, he missed too many darts at doubles, he didn’t score like he could but I won,” said Williams, who now plays another emerging star in 2022, Josh Rock.
“I’m really looking forward to it, regardless of what happens. I’m a Challenge Tour player, not a professional technically, so just to be here for the whole weekend is fantastic. I’m enjoying myself.”
Rock was another strong performer as he also won through to the final day of a European Tour event for the first time, averaging 101.68 in his 6-2 defeat of Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski.
Top seed Gerwyn Price was made to work against Luke Woodhouse, coming from 2-1 down to claim a 6-4 victory – although the qualifier had taken out 132 as he cut the gap from 5-2 to just one leg in the latter stages.
Price now takes on Nathan Aspinall in round three, after the former UK Open champion closed out his 6-2 win over Karel Sedlacek with a superb 160 checkout.
Brendan Dolan produced an outstanding performance in a 6-0 whitewash of Andrew Gilding, hitting four 13-dart legs and a 14-darter as he averaged almost 104.
Dolan now meets Luke Humphries after April’s German Darts Grand Prix winner averaged almost 100 in his 6-2 win over Darren Penhall to reach the last 16.
Joe Cullen and Dirk van Duijvenbode will clash in round three after both players enjoyed 6-1 wins on Saturday, seeing off Devon Petersen and Maik Kuivenhoven respectively.
Premier League star James Wade finished 6/10 doubles and averaged 102.25 in his 6-1 win over Berry van Peer to set up a meeting with Jose de Sousa, who edged out Sweden’s Dennis Nilsson in a deciding leg.
Ryan Searle impressed with a 102.60 average in his 6-2 win over Krzysztof Kciuk and now plays Dave Chisnall, who came from 4-3 down against Damon Heta before sealing a 6-4 success with a 146 checkout.
Germany’s Martin Schindler delighted the Leverkusen crowd with a 6-4 win over European Champion Rob Cross, taking out a 154 finish and landing an 11-darter to move into the last 16.
Schindler now meets Dimitri Van den Bergh, who enjoyed a 6-1 win over Cameron Menzies as he booked his spot in the final day of action.
Sunday’s decisive third day in Leverkusen features the third round in the afternoon session ahead of the evening’s quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.
2022 Interwetten European Darts Open
Saturday May 7
Josh Rock 6-2 Krzysztof Ratajski
Jose de Sousa 6-5 Dennis Nilsson
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-1 Maik Kuivenhoven
Brendan Dolan 6-0 Andrew Gilding
Ryan Searle 6-2 Krzysztof Kciuk
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 Cameron Menzies
James Wade 6-1 Berry van Peer
Joe Cullen 6-1 Devon Petersen
Luke Humphries 6-2 Darren Penhall
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Karel Sedlacek
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Luke Woodhouse
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Daryl Gurney
Scott Williams 6-4 Peter Wright
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Martin Schindler 6-4 Rob Cross
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Damon Heta
Sunday May 8
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Gerwyn Price v Nathan Aspinall
Luke Humphries v Brendan Dolan
Joe Cullen v Dirk van Duijvenbode
Michael van Gerwen v Jonny Clayton
Scott Williams v Josh Rock
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Martin Schindler
Jose De Sousa v James Wade
Ryan Searle v Dave Chisnall
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Sunday’s games played in Draw Bracket order
All games up to and including the quarter-finals are the best of 11 legs, with the semi-finals the best of 13 legs and the final the best of 15 legs.
Images: Kais Bodensieck/PDC Europe PDC