HOME favourite Max Hopp delighted the crowd at the German Darts Open in Saarbrucken as he secured a convincing 6-1 win over Austria's Zoran Lerchbacher in Friday's first round.
The young German has enjoyed a solid start to his 2018 and was one of the top performers as the opening round of the third European Tour event of the year took place at the Saarlandhalle.
A delightful 161 checkout in the fourth leg was the highlight of an impressive performance in which the former World Youth Champion averaged almost 100.
Luke Humphries put in the performance of the day as he beat Ronny Huybrechts 6-3 to move in to the second round, where he will face seventh seed Joe Cullen.
The youngster averaged over 104 and took out a 145 finish in the seventh leg, with Huybrechts sat on 80 to break.
“A lot of credit goes to Ronny there because he’s been struggling a little but that was a great game," said Woodhouse, last year's PDC Unicorn Development Tour champion.
“The 145 killed him, it was a massive shot. I’m happy to be on the winning side of such a great match.”
The day also featured an impressive display from another emerging star as Steve Lennon whitewashed Robert Thornton 6-0.
The Irishman averaged 92 to punish an uninspired Thornton, with a 167 finish sealing the deal for the 24-year-old, who will face Michael Smith in the second round.
A second whitewash followed in the final game of the evening as Jermaine Wattimena thrashed Keegan Brown 6-0, with the Dutchman landing two 180s and 42% of his double attempts as he waltzed past the former World Youth Champion.
Alan Tabern began the evening session with a 6-4 win over German hopeful Dragutin Horvat.
Tabern averaged 98.69 and hit three 180s on his way to setting up a second round encounter with Steve Beaton.
Paul Nicholson, playing in his first European Tour event of 2018, enjoyed a successful return to action as he beat Nathan Aspinall 6-2.
With not much to separate them on the averages, it was the former Players Champion’s doubling that proved the difference as he landed 6 out of his 14 attempts.
Two-time European Tour event winner James Wade, looking to build on his strong start to 2018, is safely through to the second round as he brushed past Polish qualifier Tytus Kanik.
The former Premier League champion proved clinical on the doubles as he landed half of his attempts, including a 101 checkout, to progress in a 6-2 win.
Belgium’s Dimitri Van den Bergh also booked his place in round two as he overcame William O’Connor 6-3.
The reigning World Youth Champion looked in superb form as he landed 55% of his doubles, including a 140 checkout in a routine win over the Irishman.
Kirk Shepherd kicked off the competition with a comprehensive 6-1 win over Simon Stevenson and will now face Gerwyn Price in round two.
The former World Championship finalist averaged 94 and hit 55% of his attempts at doubles on his way to the victory.
"My Doubles have been going well," said Shepherd. "I felt really nervous during that for some reason but I got there in the end."
Steve West averaged almost 100 as he comfortably overcame Matthew Edgar 6-2 in Saarbrucken.
The Englishman hit four maximums during a strong performance and will take on Darren Webster in round two.
Cameron Menzies recovered from 4-1 down in the afternoon session to defeat Terry Jenkins 6-4, and the Scot will now face ninth seed Ian White in the next round.
Dutchman Maik Kuivenhoven picked up a win in his first ever European Tour match, beating fellow debutant Tobias Muller 6-1, and will now face compatriot Jelle Klaasen in the second round.
Sweden's Daniel Larsson was a 6-2 winner over Jan Dekker, hitting six doubles from 11 attempts - and now receives a second round bye after Simon Whitlock's withdrawal from the event through illness.
“I was a bit nervous but I’m happy," said Larsson after the win. "I think I was at a steady level so I’m happy, I’m feeling good but it’s good that I won this game."
Rene Eidams then gave the German crowd something to cheer for as he beat Ricky Williams 6-4 to set up a second round tie with World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney.
Jose Justicia enjoyed a winning European Tour debut with a 6-4 win over Luke Woodhouse.
A scrappy game saw Woodhouse miss darts at doubles in every leg of the contest before the Spaniard eventually came through to set up a match with Dave Chisnall in the second round.
The action continues in the German Darts Open on Saturday, with all games broadcast throughout the weekend for all PDCTV-HD Subscribers worldwide, and through a series of bookmakers' websites listed below.
2018 German Darts Open
Friday April 13
Kirk Shepherd 6-1 Simon Stevenson
Steve West 6-2 Matthew Edgar
Cameron Menzies 6-4 Terry Jenkins
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-1 Tobias Muller
Daniel Larsson 6-2 Jan Dekker
Rene Eidams 6-4 Ricky Williams
Danny Noppert 6-4 Richard North
Jose Justicia 6-4 Luke Woodhouse
Alan Tabern 6-4 Dragutin Horvat
Luke Humphries 6-3 Ronny Huybrechts
Steve Lennon 6-0 Robert Thornton
Max Hopp 6-1 Zoran Lerchbacher
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-3 William O'Connor
Paul Nicholson 6-2 Nathan Aspinall
James Wade 6-2 Tytus Kanik
Jermaine Wattimena 6-0 Keegan Brown
First Round - Best of 11 legs
PDC European Tour events can be watched online by all PDCTV-HD Subscribers worldwide - click here to visit PDCTV-HD.
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