MICHAEL VAN GERWEN made an explosive start to his challenge at the HappyBet German Darts Championship on Saturday, as seeds James Wade, Simon Whitlock and Michael Smith were knocked out in Hildesheim.
World Champion Van Gerwen averaged 111.51 in a quick-fire 6-1 win over Jermaine Wattimena - taking less than ten minutes to secure his spot in Sunday's last 16 at Halle 39.
Van Gerwen opened the first two legs with 180s, added a 177 in a 12-darter in the third and another maximum in leg four, before a 14-darter moved him 5-0 up.
Wattimena capitalised on a missed match dart in leg six to get off the mark, but van Gerwen secured victory in style with a 12-darter to storm through and lay down the gauntlet in his bid for the £25,000 title.
World number three Peter Wright came from 3-1 and 5-4 down to claim a 6-5 win over Christian Kist, with the UK Open champion following an earlier 160 checkout with a 112 finish in the decider.
World number five James Wade, though, was punished for failing to finish off his chances against Darren Johnson, who trailed 5-1 before clawing back level and then taking out 90 in the decider to complete a dramatic comeback.
Johnson (pictured), a Players Championship finalist earlier this month, now faces another player who won through an 11-leg battle on Saturday in Ian White, who edged out John Bowles with a superb 11-darter in their deciding leg.
Simon Whitlock's bid to win a fourth title of the year stumbled as he lost out 6-2 to Kevin Painter, who now takes on Gerwyn Price after the UK Open finalist averaged over 99 in a strong 6-1 win over Polish qualifier Krzysztof Ratajski.
Jan Dekker also averaged over 99 as he saw off three-time European Tour winner Michael Smith, and he now plays fellow Dutchman Benito van de Pas, who was a 6-4 winner against Paul Harvey.
Dave Chisnall impressed with a 6-0 whitewash of Belgium's Dimitri Van den Bergh, and now takes on Jelle Klaasen following the Dutchman's 6-1 win over Irish ace Mick McGowan.
Austria's Mensur Suljovic won the battle of former European Tour event winners with Mervyn King with a 6-3 triumph in a game where both players averaged over 100, and he now plays Joe Cullen, who saw off Scotland's Jamie Bain 6-2.
Stephen Bunting held off David Pallett's challenge with a 6-4 victory as he moves through to take on Wright in round three, while Spain's Cristo Reyes now meets Van Gerwen after a 6-2 win over Paul Nicholson.
Alan Norris began his defence of the German Darts Championship title with a 6-4 defeat of Richie Corner, and now takes on Belgian ace Kim Huybrechts, who was in strong form to end the hopes of Brazilian qualifier Diogo Portela.
The HappyBet German Darts Championship concludes on Sunday, with the third round in the afternoon session before the evening session features the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final of the £135,000 tournament.
The HappyBet German Darts Championship will be broadcast online for PDCTV-HD Subscribers worldwide through www.livepdc.tv , and also streamed through a series of bookmakers' websites.
WATCH THE HAPPYBET GERMAN DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP
PDCTV-HD - www.livepdc.tv for all PDCTV-HD Subscribers Worldwide
Live coverage with faster streams may be available at the following websites:
Bet365 - www.bet365.com - Worldwide
Betfair - www.betfair.com - Brazil, Denmark, England, Ireland, Northern ireland, Scotland, Spain, Wales
Betfred - www.betfred.com - England, Ireland, Northern ireland, Scotland, Wales
bwin - www.bwin.com - Worldwide
Fonbet - www.fonbet.com - Armenia, Belarus, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Russian federation, Ukraine
Marathonbet - www.betmarathon.com - Belarus, Russian federation, Spain, Ukraine
Napoleon - www.napoleongames.be - Belgium
Sazka - www.sazka.cz/kurzove-sazky/ - Czech Republic
Unibet - www.unibet.com - Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, United Kingdom.
William Hill - www.williamhill.com - United Kingdom, Ireland, Russia, Spain, Sweden & Germany
HappyBet German Darts Championship
Saturday March 25
Gerwyn Price 6-1 Krzysztof Ratajski
Ian White 6-5 John Bowles
Jelle Klaasen 6-1 Mick McGowan
Jan Dekker 6-1 Michael Smith
Cristo Reyes 6-2 Paul Nicholson
Kim Huybrechts 6-1 Diogo Portela
Stephen Bunting 6-4 David Pallett
Alan Norris 6-4 Richie Corner
Darren Johnson 6-5 James Wade
Dave Chisnall 6-0 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Benito van de Pas 6-4 Paul Harvey
Peter Wright 6-5 Christian Kist
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Jermaine Wattimena
Mensur Suljovic 6-3 Mervyn King
Kevin Painter 6-2 Simon Whitlock
Joe Cullen 6-2 Jamie Bain
Sunday March 26
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm UK time)
Michael van Gerwen v Cristo Reyes
Ian White v Darren Johnson
Dave Chisnall v Jelle Klaasen
Benito van de Pas v Jan Dekker
Peter Wright v Stephen Bunting
Alan Norris v Kim Huybrechts
Kevin Painter v Gerwyn Price
Mensur Suljovic v Joe Cullen
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm UK time)
Van Gerwen/Reyes v White/Johnson
Chisnall/Klaasen v Van de Pas/Dekker
Wright/Bunting v Norris/Huybrechts
Painter/Price v Suljovic/Cullen
All games are the best of 11 legs