VAN GERWEN'S NARROW ESCAPE AS ANDERSON CRASHES OUT IN UNIBET EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP
 

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN overcame a huge scare against Simon Whitlock as he began his Unibet European Championship title defence with a narrow 6-5 win on Friday, but World Champion Gary Anderson was whitewashed by James Wade at the Ethias Arena.

Dutch star van Gerwen has claimed European Championship glory for the past two years, but saw his bid to complete a treble of wins threatened when Australian ace Whitlock - the 2012 champion - dominated their first round clash in Hasselt, Belgium.

After sharing the opening four legs, Whitlock pulled out to lead 4-2 with the aid of a show-stopping 170 checkout and then edged to the brink of victory at 5-3.

Van Gerwen, though, finished double 16 and 87 to force a decider, with Whitlock missing double 15 for the match on a 150 checkout to allow the world number one back in to finally secure the win.

"Simon has been playing well recently and he did again tonight," said van Gerwen, who now plays Gerwyn Price in Saturday's second round.

"When he got ahead of me I knew I had to come back and I did that. I played well after the first few legs and I'm feeling fine - it doesn't matter how you win as long as you win.

"To win the triple in this event would be fantastic but I'm only in the last 16 and I can't look any further than that."

Price had earlier secured his second round spot with a 6-4 win over Daryl Gurney, with a 100 finish giving the Welshman a key break of throw to move 3-2 up before he eventually saw off the Northern Irish ace with six doubles from 11 attempts.

World Champion Gary Anderson, though, crashed out as he lost 6-0 to number four seed James Wade, who hit six doubles from eight attempts in a ruthless display which included finishes of 102 and 100.

"I'm happy to win but it's horrible to see another player having an off-night like that," said Wade.

"I don't think Gary was even playing at 20 percent of what he can do - I've watched how he's become World Champion and probably the best scorer in the world on his day and I felt for him tonight.

"I've had a good preparation for this event and if my game's in the right shape then I can do anything."

Wade now faces former World Youth Champion Max Hopp in a tasty second round tie, with the 20-year-old German overcoming Dutchman Benito van de Pas 6-4.

The former World Youth Champion came from a leg down to lead 2-1 and retained his advantage throughout before punishing late missed doubles from van de Pas to take the leg two legs and move through.

"I've had some struggles this year so to win a game on the big stage feels amazing," said the 20-year-old. "I know I will face a top ten player tomorrow but I'm more relaxed because I'm just the world number 45 so I've nothing to lose."

Phil Taylor averaged a brilliant 109.28 as he began his bid to win a fifth European Championship with a 6-3 defeat of Alan Norris.

Norris led 2-1 early on following finishes of 72 and 60, but Taylor took out 96 and 121 as he moved 5-2 up before sealing victory with an 84 checkout for an 11-darter.

Taylor now meets Joe Cullen, who celebrated his European Championship debut with a 6-2 win over emerging star Chris Dobey, who had to borrow a set of darts from Michael Smith after his luggage failed to arrive in Belgium.

Dobey defied that inconvenience to finish 117 as he won the opening leg, but Cullen took command by taking the next four as he moved through to the second round.

Austrian star Mensur Suljovic produced a brilliant display to see off Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena 6-1, averaging an impressive 104.26 and hitting six doubles from eight attempts as he moved through to face Ian White.

The number two seed claimed the first three legs in just 42 darts with legs of 15, 15 and 12 darts, with Wattimena finishing 83 to get off the mark only for a 121 finish to fire Suljovic into another three-leg burst as he completed the win.

Suljovic will now play Ian White, whose bid to add to the three ranking victories he has claimed so far in 2016 began with a 6-2 defeat of Terry Jenkins, who was punished for 12 missed darts at doubles during the contest.

Number three seed Peter Wright edged out Justin Pipe 6-5 in a thriller, coming back from 5-4 down to win the final two legs as he moved through to face Cristo Reyes.

Wright finished 116 as he opened up a 2-0 lead, and he extended the advantage before Pipe took four successive legs to move 5-4 up, but the Taunton thrower paid for missed match darts in leg ten before the world number five finished 98 to win the decider.

Spain's Reyes reached the second round in Hasselt for the second successive year, defeating world number seven Robert Thornton 6-4, despite the Scot hitting five 180s.

Thornton hit back from 2-0 down to level and shared the opening eight legs before Reyes landed double eight for a 5-4 cushion and 79 to secure the win.

Jelle Klaasen held off Steve West's fightback from 5-0 down before claiming a 6-3 victory to move through to a second round meeting with Stephen Bunting.

Klaasen took out finishes of 124 and 104 in a blistering start as he won the opening five legs in just eight minutes, with West causing the former Lakeside Champion some nervous moments before he eventually sealed the win on double 18.

Bunting survived Michael Smith's fightback from 3-1 and 5-4 down to edge through their clash in a deciding leg, with the former World Youth Champion missing tops to snatch victory before his rival finally progressed.

"It's always a hard game against Michael because we're both from St Helens and I know how good he is," said Bunting. "I let him back in and you can't give him an inch.

"I thought I'd blown it but I'm happy I won and things are going well for me."

Belgian hopes in the European Championship were ended on the opening night as number five seed Kim Huybrechts lost out 6-3 to debutant James Wilson.

Wilson took out a superb 142 finish as he opened up a 4-1 lead, with Huybrechts finishing double 16 and 85 to cut the gap to one before the Englishman took the next two for victory.

"Jelle's a fantastic player and I knew I had to turn up and play well," said Wilson. "I did that but I need to keep pushing now and go as far as I can this weekend."

Wilson now plays Mervyn King, who battled to a 6-4 win over South Africa's Devon Petersen in their first round contest.

Australia's Kyle Anderson sent number six seed Dave Chisnall packing as he celebrated his European Championship debut with a 6-3 win.

Chisnall held an early 2-1 lead, but Anderson moved ahead with a superb 11-darter and also took out finishes of 126 and 102 as he progressed to face James Richardson.

Richardson enjoyed a winning European Championship debut as he landed a 158 checkout during a 6-3 win over Jamie Caven, who pulled back from 4-1 down to trail 4-3 before the Rushden ace secured the win.

Saturday's second round games at the Ethias Arena in Hasselt will be followed on Sunday by the quarter-finals in the afternoon session and the semi-finals and final in the evening session.

Watch live on ITV4 from 12.45pm UK time, as well as through the PDC's series of worldwide broadcast partners and in www.LIVEPDC.TV for International Pass Subscribers (outside of UK, Ireland and Netherlands).

Follow live stats at the PDC Live Scores Website - http://live.dartsdata.com .

Unibet European Championship
First Round
Friday October 28
Afternoon Session 

Jamie Caven 3-6 James Richardson
Daryl Gurney 4-6 Gerwyn Price
Chris Dobey 2-6 Joe Cullen
Ian White 6-2 Terry Jenkins
Cristo Reyes 6-4 Robert Thornton
Mervyn King 6-4 Devon Petersen
Michael Smith 5-6 Stephen Bunting
Max Hopp 6-4 Benito van de Pas

Evening Session
Jelle Klaasen (8) 6-3 Steve West
Kim Huybrechts (5) 3-6 James Wilson
Dave Chisnall (6) 3-6 Kyle Anderson
Mensur Suljovic (2) 6-1 Jermaine Wattimena
Peter Wright (3) 6-5 Justin Pipe
Alan Norris (7) 3-6 Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen (1) 6-5 Simon Whitlock
James Wade (4) 6-0 Gary Anderson

First Round - Best of 11 legs

Afternoon Session Round-Up
James Richardson enjoyed a winning European Championship debut as he landed a 158 checkout during a 6-3 win over Jamie Caven, who pulled back from 4-1 down to trail 4-3 before the Rushden ace secured the win.

Gerwyn Price overcame Daryl Gurney 6-4 to win through to the last 16, with a 100 finish securing him a key break of throw to move 3-2 up before he eventually saw off the Northern Irish ace.

Joe Cullen celebrated his European Championship debut with a 6-2 win over emerging star Chris Dobey, who had to borrow a set of darts from Michael Smith after his luggage failed to arrive in Belgium.

Dobey defied that inconvenience to finish 117 as he won the opening leg, but Cullen took command by taking the next four as he moved through to the second round.

"I'm really happy," said Cullen. "Chris didn't have his darts and people obviously expected more from me but he started well with the 117. I'm happy with how I played and I want to take this forward now."

Ian White's bid to add to the three ranking victories he has claimed so far in 2016 began with a 6-2 defeat of Terry Jenkins, who was punished for 12 missed darts at doubles during the contest.

Spain's Cristo Reyes reached the second round in Hasselt for the second successive year, defeating world number seven Robert Thornton 6-4, despite the Scot hitting five 180s.

Thornton hit back from 2-0 down to level and shared the opening eight legs before Reyes landed double eight for a 5-4 cushion and 79 to secure the win.

Stephen Bunting survived Michael Smith's fightback from 3-1 and 5-4 down to edge through their clash in a deciding leg, with the former World Youth Champion missing tops to snatch victory before his rival finaly progressed.

"It's always a hard game against Michael because we're both from St Helens and I know how good he is," said Bunting. "I let him back in and you can't give him an inch.

"I thought I'd blown it but I'm happy I won and things are going well for me."

Germany's Max Hopp produced a resilient performance to overcome Dutch youngster Benito van de Pas 6-4, moving through to meet either James Wade or Gary Anderson on Saturday,

The former World Youth Champion came from a leg down to lead 2-1 and retained his advantage throughout before punishing late missed doubles from van de Pas to take the leg two legs and move through.

"I've had some struggles this year so to win a game on the big stage feels amazing," said the 20-year-old. "I know I will face a top ten player tomorrow but I'm more relaxed because I'm just the world number 45 so I've nothing to lose."

Evening Session Round-Up
Jelle Klaasen held off Steve West's fightback from 5-0 down before claiming a 6-3 victory to move through to a second round meeting with Stephen Bunting.

Klaasen took out finishes of 124 and 104 in a blistering start as he won the opening five legs in just eight minutes, with West causing the former Lakeside Champion some nervous moments before he eventually sealed the win on double 18.

Belgian hopes in the European Championship were ended on the opening night as number five seed Kim Huybrechts lost out 6-3 to debutant James Wilson.

Wilson took out a superb 142 finish as he opened up a 4-1 lead, with Huybrechts finishing double 16 and 85 to cut the gap to one before the Englishman took the next two for victory.

"Jelle's a fantastic player and I knew I had to turn up and play well," said Wilson. "I did that but I need to keep pushing now and go as far as I can this weekend."

Australia's Kyle Anderson sent number six seed Dave Chisnall packing as he celebrated his European Championship debut with a 6-3 win.

Chisnall held an early 2-1 lead, but Anderson moved ahead with a superb 11-darter and also took out finishes of 126 and 102 as he progressed to face James Richardson.

Austrian star Mensur Suljovic produced a brilliant display to see off Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena 6-1, averaging an impressive 104.26 and hitting six doubles from eight attempts as he moved through to face Ian White.

The number two seed claimed the first three legs in just 42 darts with legs of 15, 15 and 12 darts, with Wattimena finishing 83 to get off the mark only for a 121 finish to fire Suljovic into another three-leg burst as he completed the win.

Peter Wright edged out Justin Pipe 6-5 in a thriller, coming back from 5-4 down to win the final two legs as he moved through to face Cristo Reyes.

Wright finished 116 as he opened up a 2-0 lead, and he extended the advantage before Pipe took four successive legs to move 5-4 up, but the Taunton thrower paid for missed match darts in leg ten before the world number five finished 98 to win the decider.

Phil Taylor averaged a brilliant 109.28 as he began his bid to win a fifth European Championship with a 6-3 defeat of Alan Norris.

Norris led 2-1 early on following finishes of 72 and 60, but Taylor took out 96 and 121 as he moved 5-2 up before sealing victory with an 84 checkout for an 11-darter.

Match Stats

Average 180s Finishing       Average 180s Finishing
77.73 1 3/12 Jamie Caven 3-6 James Richardson 80.67 1 6/20
88.99 1 4/16 Daryl Gurney 4-6 Gerwyn Price 91.26 2 6/11
84.83 1 2/11 Chris Dobey 2-6 Joe Cullen 95.21 2 6/14
92.37 3 6/17 Ian White 6-2 Terry Jenkins 89.08 1 2/14
96.83 0 6/12 Cristo Reyes 6-4 Robert Thornton 93.77 5 4/6
90.20 1 6/12 Mervyn King 6-4 Devon Petersen 85.03 3 4/12
95.00 4 5/12 Michael Smith 5-6 Stephen Bunting 99.55 3 6/13
85.80 4 6/16 Max Hopp 6-4 Benito van de Pas 90.08 3 4/26
97.17 4 6/13 Jelle Klaasen 6-3 Steve West 95.71 3 3/10
94.55 1 3/3 Kim Huybrechts 3-6 James Wilson 98.84 2 6/11
91.57 1 3/12 Dave Chisnall 3-6 Kyle Anderson 92.98 3 6/9
104.26 2 6/8 Mensur Suljovic 6-1 Jermaine Wattimena 95.06 1 1/2
90.27 1 6/14 Peter Wright 6-5 Justin Pipe 89.76 1 5/14
96.88 2 3/6 Alan Norris 3-6 Phil Taylor 109.28 1 6/12
100.77 5 6/28 Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Simon Whitlock 92.75 4 5/12
94.93 2 6/8 James Wade 6-0 Gary Anderson 77.40 1 0/2


Saturday October 29
Afternoon Session (1.45pm-6pm local time, 12.45pm-5pm UK time)

Second Round x4
Kyle Anderson v James Richardson
Mensur Suljovic v Ian White
Peter Wright v Cristo Reyes
James Wilson v Mervyn King

Evening Session (8pm-12am local time, 7pm-11pm UK time)
Second Round x4
Jelle Klaasen v Stephen Bunting
Phil Taylor v Joe Cullen
James Wade v Max Hopp
Michael van Gerwen v Gerwyn Price

Tournament Draw Bracket
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Simon Whitlock
Daryl Gurney v Gerwyn Price
Jelle Klaasen (8) v Steve West
Michael Smith v Stephen Bunting
Kim Huybrechts (5) v James Wilson
Mervyn King v Devon Petersen
James Wade (4) v Gary Anderson
Max Hopp v Benito van de Pas
Mensur Suljovic (2) v Jermaine Wattimena
Ian White v Terry Jenkins
Alan Norris (7) v Phil Taylor
Chris Dobey v Joe Cullen
Dave Chisnall (6) v Kyle Anderson
Jamie Caven v James Richardson
Peter Wright (3) v Justin Pipe
Cristo Reyes v Robert Thornton