Steve Beaton rolled back the years to demolish Adrian Lewis with a 106 average on Day One of the Interwetten Baltic Sea Darts Open on Friday, as Daryl Gurney edged out Gabriel Clemens in a thrilling last-leg decider in Kiel.
The first day of the year's opening European Tour event saw 16 first round ties take place across two sessions, with Beaton producing the performance of the day at the Wunderino Arena.
Beaton – the senior statesman in the inaugural event – averaged 106 and pinned 60% of his attempts at double, in a match which saw all eight legs won in 15 darts or fewer.
Beaton’s reward is a second round meeting with Premier League star Nathan Aspinall on Saturday, while Gurney will play top seed Luke Humphries following his 6-5 success against Clemens.
Gurney established the early initiative to lead Clemens 3-1, only for the German number one to respond with an 11-darter and a 144 finish to restore parity at four apiece.
However, the Northern Irishman held his nerve in the latter stages, surviving a match dart to secure just his second win in eight meetings against the World Championship semi-finalist.
Elsewhere, James Wade produced a typically efficient performance to come through a heavyweight first round tie against Raymond van Barneveld and set up a second round tussle against Peter Wright.
Van Barneveld drew first blood with a superb 121 finish, but Wade punished an inconsistent display from the Dutch veteran to book a date with two-time World Champion Wright on Saturday night.
Niko Springer delighted his home crowd to set up a fascinating second round fixture against World Champion Michael Smith, averaging 97 and landing five maximums to beat Jermaine Wattimena 6-4.
Lukas Wenig also advanced in style on Friday evening, converting a majestic 160 checkout to seal a 6-1 rout of Ryan Meikle, which sets up an all-German affair against Martin Schindler on Day Two.
Florian Hempel was unable to make it a hat-trick of German winners on the opening day, succumbing 6-2 to Richard Veenstra, who converted six of his eight attempts at double in a clinical display.
Stephen Bunting also enjoyed an impressive start to his 2023 European Tour campaign, conjuring up 120 and 152 finishes to overcome William O’Connor 6-4 with a 97 average.
Bunting will face Van Gerwen in another high-profile showdown, while Ritchie Edhouse will play Dimitri Van den Bergh for a place in the last 16, after easing past Shaun Wilkinson in his opener.
Graham Usher made a winning start on his European Tour debut, punishing a below-par performance from Ryan Joyce to close out a 6-3 win, and his reward is a second round meeting with Gerwyn Price.
Earlier in the day, Lewy Williams fired in back-to-back 11-darters to wrap up a 6-3 win over Dennis Nilsson, having also produced a spectacular 160 checkout in the opening leg of the contest.
Martijn Dragt celebrated his first European Tour victory in Friday’s curtain-raiser, closing out a 6-2 success against Ricky Evans to move through to a meeting against fourth seed Rob Cross.
Mario Vandenbogaerde also sealed his maiden victory on the European Tour stage at the fifth attempt, converting 101 and 126 finishes to edge out Niels Zonneveld in a hard-fought deciding-leg tie.
There were also victories for former World Youth Champions Arron Monk, Keegan Brown, Bradley Brooks and Ted Evetts during an entertaining afternoon session in Kiel.
Brown and Evetts advanced with 6-3 wins over Czech qualifier Filip Sebesta and Dutch debutant Jeroen Mioch respectively, while Brooks punished a profligate display from Josh Payne to storm to a 6-2 success.
Meanwhile, Monk landed five 180s and defied 21 missed darts at double to deny Brendan Dolan in a last-leg shoot-out and book a tussle against tenth seed Joe Cullen on Saturday afternoon.
The 16 seeded players enter the fray in Saturday’s second round, with top seed Humphries, world number one Smith and Van Gerwen headlining the action.
Live coverage of all 2023 European Tour events will be streamed through Viaplay in the UK, the Netherlands, Poland and all Nordic & Baltic countries, and through DAZN for viewers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Coverage will also be shown on PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and through bookmakers' worldwide.
Interwetten Baltic Sea Darts Open
Friday February 24
Martijn Dragt 6-2 Ricky Evans
Mario Vandenbogaerde 6-5 Niels Zonneveld
Lewy Williams 6-3 Dennis Nilsson
Keegan Brown 6-3 Filip Sebesta
Ted Evetts 6-3 Jeroen Mioch
Arron Monk 6-5 Brendan Dolan
Niko Springer 6-4 Jermaine Wattimena
Bradley Brooks 6-2 Josh Payne
Ritchie Edhouse 6-2 Shaun Wilkinson
Graham Usher 6-3 Ryan Joyce
Lukas Wenig 6-1 Ryan Meikle
Stephen Bunting 6-4 William O'Connor
Richard Veenstra 6-2 Florian Hempel
James Wade 6-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Gabriel Clemens
Steve Beaton 6-2 Adrian Lewis
Saturday February 25
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 GMT)
Ryan Searle v Mario Vandenbogaerde
Rob Cross v Martijn Dragt
Dave Chisnall v Lewy Williams
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Ritchie Edhouse
Joe Cullen v Arron Monk
Damon Heta v Bradley Brooks
Danny Noppert v Keegan Brown
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Richard Veenstra
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 GMT)
Nathan Aspinall v Steve Beaton
Jonny Clayton v Ted Evetts
Gerwyn Price v Graham Usher
Luke Humphries v Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith v Niko Springer
Peter Wright v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen v Stephen Bunting
Martin Schindler v Lukas Wenig