Dave Chisnall began his defence of the 2023 Blåkläder Belgian Darts Open title in impressive style on Saturday, as Josh Rock came agonisingly close to a spectacular nine-darter in Wieze.
Day Two of the £175,000 event saw 16 second round ties played across two sessions at the Oktoberhallen, with reigning champion Chisnall one of 12 seeds to progress to Sunday’s Finals Day.
Chisnall followed up victory in February’s inaugural Baltic Sea Darts Open by lifting the Dutch Darts Championship title last weekend, and he began his bid for a third European Tour title of 2023 with a 6-2 success against Ricky Evans.
Evans whitewashed home favourite Kim Huybrechts in Friday’s first round, but he was unable to repeat the feat against second seed Chisnall, who posted a ton-topping average to advance.
Chisnall will now take on Austrian Darts Open runner-up Rock for a place in the last eight, after the Northern Irishman produced a remarkable display to dispatch Premier League star Chris Dobey 6-2.
Rock missed double 12 for a nine-darter in the penultimate leg of his clash against the Masters champion, and he began the next leg with seven perfect darts to prevail with a 107 average to Dobey’s 104.
Elsewhere, top seed Luke Humphries and three-time World Champion Michael van Gerwen booked their places in the last 16 with deciding-leg wins over Bradley Brooks and Jose de Sousa respectively.
Humphries defied a trio of ton-plus finishes from former World Youth Champion Brooks to triumph with a 102 average, while Van Gerwen also averaged in three figures to deny De Sousa, sealing the deal with a 12-dart hold.
However, Peter Wright was dumped out in similar fashion by an inspired Gabriel Clemens, who recovered from 5-2 down to advance with a 103 average, featuring a trio of 13-darters in the closing stages.
Clemens’ reward is a last 16 showdown against World Champion Michael Smith, who averaged 102 to continue his winning run and end the hopes of Belgium’s number one Dimitri Van den Bergh.
Andy Baetens is the solitary Belgian left standing in Wieze, and the Host Nation Qualifier kicked off Saturday’s second round action with a 6-2 demolition of UK Open champion Andrew Gilding.
Baetens moved through to the last 16 of a European Tour event for the first time alongside Canada’s Matt Campbell, who averaged 103 and converted a stunning 167 checkout to close out a 6-3 win over Joe Cullen.
Gary Anderson continued his charge in Belgium, averaging almost 105 in a 6-2 rout of his practice partner Ryan Searle in the afternoon’s penultimate contest.
Anderson drew first blood with a majestic 140 checkout, setting the tone for a dominant display which also saw him land four maximums and convert six of his nine attempts at double.
The Scot will now face sixth seed Rob Cross in a battle of the former World Champions, after Cross reeled off five consecutive legs from 4-1 adrift to deny Switzerland’s Stefan Bellmont in his opener.
Dirk van Duijvenbode defied his injury concerns to claim a first career victory over his darting idol Raymond van Barneveld, punishing his fellow countryman’s doubling woes to record a 6-3 success.
Van Duijvenbode will be joined in round three by his compatriot Danny Noppert, as the former UK Open champion won through a hard-fought affair against former World Youth champion Ted Evetts.
Noppert will now play eighth seed Nathan Aspinall in Sunday afternoon's third round, after the Stockport star pinned six of his eight attempts at double to record a 6-1 drubbing of Martijn Kleermaker.
Earlier in the day, Jonny Clayton began his bid for a second European Tour title of 2023 with a 6-3 win over Keane Barry, producing 130 and 161 checkouts to progress with a ton-topping average.
Clayton will take on fourth seed Damon Heta for a place in the quarter-finals, after the Australian number one defeated Dutch qualifier Damian Mol by the same scoreline.
Martin Schindler also made serene progress at the Oktoberhallen, capitalising on a below-par display from Daryl Gurney to close out a comprehensive 6-1 victory.
Sunday's final day of action in Wieze features the third round in the afternoon session, ahead of the decisive quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in the evening.
The tournament is being broadcast live on Viaplay, DAZN, VTM 2 and PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and through bookmakers' websites worldwide.
2023 Blåkläder Belgian Darts Open
Saturday May 6
Andy Baetens 6-2 Andrew Gilding
Rob Cross 6-4 Stefan Bellmont
Matt Campbell 6-3 Joe Cullen
Danny Noppert 6-4 Ted Evetts
Damon Heta 6-3 Damian Mol
Martin Schindler 6-1 Daryl Gurney
Gary Anderson 6-2 Ryan Searle
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Keane Barry
Nathan Aspinall 6-1 Martijn Kleermaker
Luke Humphries 6-5 Bradley Brooks
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Ricky Evans
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Gabriel Clemens 6-5 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Jose de Sousa
Michael Smith 6-2 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Josh Rock 6-2 Chris Dobey
Sunday May 7
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Luke Humphries v Andy Baetens
Nathan Aspinall v Danny Noppert
Damon Heta v Jonny Clayton
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Matt Campbell
Dave Chisnall v Josh Rock
Michael Smith v Gabriel Clemens
Michael van Gerwen v Martin Schindler
Rob Cross v Gary Anderson
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Sunday’s games played in Draw Bracket order