Chris Dobey and Rowby-John Rodriguez produced superb displays to stun Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price on a sensational night of first round action at the Cazoo European Championship in Dortmund on Friday.
The second day of the £500,000 event saw the world’s top three in action at the Westfalenhalle, although Van Gerwen and Price were sent packing on an extraordinary evening as six of Friday’s eight winners registered ton-plus averages.
Dobey produced a sensational display of scoring to deny Van Gerwen in a deciding-leg thriller, firing in eight perfect darts in a last-leg shoot-out to secure a first career victory over the Dutchman.
Dobey - who landed 15 140s and four 180s - appeared to have squandered a golden opportunity after relinquishing a 4-2 lead, with Van Gerwen conjuring up a spectacular 160 checkout to move 5-4 ahead.
However, the Dutchman spurned four match darts in a dramatic penultimate leg and Dobey capitalised, firing in back-to-back 180s and taking out 84 in the decider to triumph in 11 darts for his first career win over Van Gerwen.
“I’m over the moon. I was starting to think about it mid-game, but to get over the line is a great feeling,” said Dobey, who had lost 11 times previously to the Dutch legend.
“I’m so happy to beat Michael for the first time. I still class him as the best player in the world, and hopefully I can get many more wins over him now.”
Rodriguez was also overcome by emotion following his 6-4 success against Price, having endured a turbulent year which has seen his young daughter hospitalised for three heart operations.
The Austrian has come of age on the oche in 2022, and continued his fine form by producing a nerveless display to dump out Price and set up a showdown against world number one Peter Wright on Saturday night.
Price landed a majestic ten-darter to lead with a 108 average, but following a run of six consecutive holds, Rodriguez struck the first blow, courtesy of a brilliant double-double 92 finish to lead 4-3.
The former World Cup runner-up then fired in a 15-dart hold to move a leg away from victory, before defying a 98 skin-saver from the Welshman to seal the deal with a 100 checkout in leg ten.
“I’m so proud of myself - it’s been a tough few weeks for me,” reflected Rodriguez, who was making his first European Championship appearance since 2015.
“I am shaking. I can’t believe what I’ve done – I’ve beaten the world number two. It’s amazing.
“I have so much respect for Gezzy. He didn’t perform at his best today, but I am so happy.”
World Champion Wright avoided the same fate as his main rivals, after kicking off his title bid with a resounding 6-2 success against Ryan Meikle.
The 2020 winner produced a series of clinical combination finishes to overcome the spirited debutant, taking out 94, 98 and 101 outshots to advance with a 103 average.
“Ryan is a very dangerous player. I thought I played poorly, but I'm very happy with a 103 average,” admitted Wright, who will retain his world number one status if he reaches the semi-finals.
“I won this title two years ago so I’m defending lots of prize money, but it’s a really difficult tournament because every player is in form, as you’ve seen by the big averages.”
Elsewhere, German duo Gabriel Clemens and Martin Schindler were denied on home soil, succumbing to Jonny Clayton and Jose De Sousa in high-quality encounters.
Clayton - a semi-finalist 12 months ago - defied late double trouble to dump out German number one Clemens in the evening’s finale, averaging 97 and converting six of his 13 attempts at double to progress.
Meanwhile, De Sousa produced an imperious display to dispatch Schindler 6-1; averaging 105, landing three 180s and taking out a 140 combination to book a second round tie against Dobey.
Dave Chisnall produced the performance of the first round in Friday’s opener, averaging 107 to record another whitewash win over his St Helens counterpart Stephen Bunting.
Chisnall - who also dispatched Bunting 6-0 in their last televised clash at the Cazoo Masters in January - landed a 121 finish and an 11-darter to breeze through, and he will meet Clayton for a place in Sunday’s last eight.
Dimitri Van den Bergh also produced a ton-topping average to register his first win at the European Championship, sweeping aside Daryl Gurney 6-2 in a battle of former TV title winners.
The opening five legs went with throw, but a superb 11-dart break in leg six catapulted Van den Bergh to victory, with the Belgian winning four straight legs to prevail with a 101 average.
Van den Bergh’s reward is a second round showdown against Ross Smith, who reeled off four consecutive legs from 4-2 adrift to dump out sixth seed Joe Cullen with a 101 average.
Cullen converted a spectacular 154 finish in establishing a 4-2 lead, but Smith - who drew first blood with a 130 kill - responded with legs of 12, 11, 14 and 16 darts to prevail with a 75% success rate on the outer ring.
Saturday’s second round features a bumper double session at the Westfalenhalle, and the action gets underway with an all-Dutch affair between Danny Noppert and Vincent van der Voort, while 2018 winner James Wade plays Dirk van Duijvenbode.
Top seed Luke Humphries then continues his title bid against Ryan Searle, before World Championship runner-up Michael Smith meets Northern Irish star Josh Rock to complete Saturday afternoon's action.
Ross Smith and Van den Bergh lock horns in the evening's curtain-raiser, and Wright continues his bid for a second European Championship crown against Rodriguez.
Chisnall and Clayton then face off in an enthralling affair, before Van Gerwen's conqueror Dobey plays De Sousa for a place in Sunday's quarter-finals.
2022 Cazoo European Championship
Friday October 28
8x First Round
Dave Chisnall 6-0 Stephen Bunting
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-2 Daryl Gurney
Ross Smith 6-4 Joe Cullen
Jose de Sousa 6-1 Martin Schindler
Peter Wright 6-2 Ryan Meikle
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-4 Gerwyn Price
Chris Dobey 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Gabriel Clemens
Saturday October 29
Afternoon Session (1345 local time, 1245 BST)
4x Second Round
Vincent van der Voort v Danny Noppert
James Wade v Dirk van Duijvenbode
Luke Humphries v Ryan Searle
Michael Smith v Josh Rock
Best of 19 legs
Evening Session (2000 local time, 1900 BST)
Ross Smith v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Peter Wright v Rowby-John Rodriguez
Dave Chisnall v Jonny Clayton
Chris Dobey v Jose De Sousa
Best of 19 legs