STEVE BEATON produced a vintage fightback to defeat Mike De Decker 6-4 on the opening day of the 2017 Gibraltar Darts Trophy, but all five Host Nation Qualifiers were knocked out in the first round at the Victoria Stadium.
Experienced star Beaton, the runner-up in 2014 European Tour event in Gibraltar, was facing a first round exit for a second successive European Tour event when De Decker took a 4-2 lead in their clash.
The Belgian youngster had secured the game's first break as he moved out from two-all to lead 4-2, but crucially missed a dart at tops to open up a three-leg gap and Beaton pounced to power to victory.
The former Lakeside Champion landed 180s in four successive legs as he swept past De Decker and moved through to meet another former European Tour winner, Simon Whitlock, in round two.
"I love it here and I'd love to still be in at the end of the weekend," said Beaton. "I'm really happy, I think I played quite well and that's a good result for me."
Christian Kist held off Ronny Huybrechts' comeback from 3-1 and 4-2 down to level at four-all before the former Lakeside Champion pulled away for a 6-4 triumph, setting up a clash with Michael Smith in the second round.
Former European Tour finalist Paul Nicholson saw three match darts go begging in the deciding leg of his see-saw battle with Chris Quantock, who enjoyed his first win on the European Tour with a narrow 6-5 victory.
In a game which saw no breaks of throw, a superb 160 checkout from Nicholson in leg ten forced a decider, but he missed the bull, double eight and double four to allow Quantock back in to set up a second round tie with Stephen Bunting.
John Henderson landed a brilliant 170 finish during his 6-4 win over Germany's Rene Eidams, as the former German Darts Masters finalist moved through to meet Ian White.
There was disappointment, though, for the five Host Nation Qualifiers as they all lost out in the first round on home soil.
Gibraltar number one Dyson Parody saw his hopes of emulating last year's quarter-final appearance ended with a 6-1 defeat to Magnus Caris, who came from a leg down to set up a clash with Jelle Klaasen, with a 114 finish being the highlight for the Swedish qualifier.
James Wilson hit six doubles from ten attempts as he swept past Parody's partner for the Betway World Cup of Darts, Dylan Duo, 6-1 to set up a second round meeting with Belgium's Kim Huybrechts.
Matt Clark enjoyed a first round win for the second successive European Tour event, defeating European Tour debutant Justin Broton 6-3 in moving through to face Alan Norris in the last 32.
Darren Johnson produced a strong display to defeat Manuel Vilerio 6-1, averaging almost 93 as he moved through to face Gerwyn Price in the last 32.
Gibraltar policeman Antony Lopez was the other Host Nation Qualifier to slip to defeat, as he was unable to recover from going 3-0 down against Dimitri Van den Bergh.
The Belgian eventually prevailed 6-2 and now takes on 2014 Gibraltar Darts Trophy winner James Wade in the second round.
Poland's Krzysztof Ratajski won through to the second round for a third successive European Tour event, defeating Ritchie Edhouse 6-3 to set up a tie with top seed Peter Wright on Saturday.
Rob Cross punished European Tour debutant Mario Robbe for 12 missed doubles with a whitewash victory as he set up a second round meeting with Joe Cullen, as two maiden Players Championship winners from 2017 clash in Gibraltar on Saturday.
Alan Tabern marked his first European Tour appearance of the year with a 6-4 win over Dutch youngster Jeffrey de Zwaan, with the experienced left-hander moving through to play Mensur Suljovic in round two.
Jonny Clayton survived missed match darts from Justin Pipe in the deciding leg of their tight battle as he progressed to a meeting with Dave Chisnall.
Darren Webster also won through an 11-leg battle with Richie Corner, who led 5-4 before the Norwich ace edged the final two legs to set up a second round tie with Daryl Gurney.
James Richardson won through to the second round for the third time on the European Tour this year, defeating Matthew Dennant 6-1 to create a meeting with Spain's Cristo Reyes on day two.
Martin Schindler punished 21 missed doubles from European Tour debutant Callan Rydz in a clash of two young prospects, with the German ace now up against Benito van de Pas on Saturday.
The Gibraltar Darts Trophy will be broadcast online for PDCTV-HD Subscribers worldwide through www.livepdc.tv , and also streamed through a series of bookmakers' websites.
2017 Gibraltar Darts Trophy
Friday May 12
Alan Tabern 6-4 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Jonny Clayton 6-5 Justin Pipe
Darren Webster 6-5 Richie Corner
James Richardson 6-1 Matthew Dennant
Matt Clark 6-3 Justin Broton
Martin Schindler 6-4 Callan Rydz
Magnus Caris 6-1 Dyson Parody
Chris Quantock 6-5 Paul Nicholson
Rob Cross 6-0 Mario Robbe
John Henderson 6-4 Rene Eidams
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Ritchie Edhouse
Steve Beaton 6-4 Mike De Decker
James Wilson 6-1 Dylan Duo
Christian Kist 6-4 Ronny Huybrechts
Darren Johnson 6-1 Manuel Vilerio
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-2 Antony Lopez
Saturday May 13
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)
Cristo Reyes v James Richardson
Daryl Gurney v Darren Webster
Alan Norris v Matt Clark
Benito van de Pas v Martin Schindler
Stephen Bunting v Chris Quantock
Jelle Klaasen v Magnus Caris
Michael Smith v Christian Kist
Joe Cullen v Rob Cross
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm BST)
Gerwyn Price v Darren Johnson
Mensur Suljovic v Alan Tabern
Dave Chisnall v Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright v Krzysztof Ratajski
James Wade v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Kim Huybrechts v James Wilson
Ian White v John Henderson
Simon Whitlock v Steve Beaton
A highlights programme from the Gibraltar Darts Trophy will be aired on Sky Sports on the following dates:
May 30 (7pm) - Sky Sports 1
May 30 (11pm) - Sky Sports 1
May 31 (12pm) - Sky Sports 1
May 31 (3pm) - Sky Sports 1
May 31 (8pm) - Sky Sports 1
June 1 (12pm) - Sky Sports 1
June 1 (3pm) - Sky Sports 1
June 1 (6pm) - Sky Sports 1