BIG NAMES PROGRESS AS SKY BET MOBILE WORLD MATCHPLAY HOTS UP
BIG GUNS Mark Webster, Raymond van Barneveld, Adrian Lewis and James Wade all booked their places in the Sky Bet Mobile World Matchplay quarter-finals with victories as the second round of the £400,000 event began in Blackpool on Wednesday.
The build-up to Sunday^s climax in the prestigious tournament began in earnest as the first four games from round two took place at the Winter Gardens.
World Champion Adrian Lewis powered past Holland^s Vincent van der Voort with a 13-5 victory in their contest, with the Stoke ace taking an early 5-0 lead with a superb start before going on to average 100 in taking the win.
He will now play Welsh left-hander Mark Webster, who reeled off six successive legs to defeat Steve Beaton 13-7 in their clash, taking out four ton-plus checkouts in the process.
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld remains on course to reach his second successive Blackpool final following a 13-9 defeat of Paul Nicholson, who led 7-6 at one stage before the Dutchman powered through.
2007 World Matchplay champion James Wade, meanwhile, produced a clinical display to see off plucky Mark Walsh, who trailed 6-2 and 9-5 before hitting back to trail by just one leg before the left-hander sealed the win with a 122 bullseye checkout.
The second round will conclude with the remaining four games on Thursday, including reigning champion Phil Taylor taking on Wolverhampton^s Wayne Jones.
Local star Wes Newton faces Taunton^s Justin Pipe, number five seed Simon Whitlock plays Denis Ovens and Andy Hamilton - who knocked out second-favourite Gary Anderson on Tuesday - meets another Scot, John Henderson.
Sky Bet Mobile World Matchplay
Wednesday July 20
Steve Beaton 7-13 Mark Webster
Adrian Lewis 13-5 Vincent van der Voort
Raymond van Barneveld 13-9 Paul Nicholson
James Wade 13-11 Mark Walsh
Thursday July 21 (7pm)
Simon Whitlock v Denis Ovens
Andy Hamilton v John Henderson
Phil Taylor v Wayne Jones
Wes Newton v Justin Pipe
All second round games are the best of 25 legs. All games must be won by two clear legs.
MARK WEBSTER 13-7 STEVE BEATON
MARK WEBSTER reeled off six successive legs against Steve Beaton to book his quarter-final place at the Sky Bet Mobile World Matchplay with a 13-7 triumph.
The Welshman followed up his first round defeat of John Part by knocking out another former World Champion, as he broke a seven-all deadlock with a thrilling run, which included killer finishes of 158 and 142.
Webster will now play World Champion Adrian Lewis in the quarter-finals on Friday, as he bids to follow up his recent run to the semis in the Speedy Hire UK Open with another last four appearance.
Beaton played his part in an entertaining contest, holding his own throughout the opening 14 legs and averaging at over 100 for much of that time.
He took the opening leg against the throw on double seven, a finish which was set up with a 168 score as he started with a flourish, although Webster replied with a two-dart 90 finish to level and double ten to move 2-1 up.
Beaton superbly finished 140 on double 16 to win the fourth leg, but missed tops to steal the fifth as Webster edged back in front, and the next three legs also went with throw to leave the scores locked at four-all.
Beaton then edged back in front by taking the ninth with a brilliant 133 checkout, although three missed doubles gave Webster the chance to break back, which the left-hander took with a 105 finish.
He edged back in front in the 11th to lead 6-5, and after Beaton won the 12th the Welshman added a 104 finish to keep himself on top.
Beaton hit 80 to win the 14th leg as the scores were tied at seven-all, but Webster took the next with a 61 finish before applying a killer blow with a superb 158 checkout to break, with his opponent waiting on a finish.
Double top gave him a 10-7 advantage, and he then punished a missed bullseye from Beaton for a 130 finish with an even bigger checkout as he powered home double 11 for a 142 checkout.
An 87 finish then won him a fifth straight leg, and he landed a second 180 of the game before taking out 86 to ensure his place in the last eight.
"It^s great to be in the quarter-finals," said Webster. "At the last break I was 8-7 up and I knew I needed to pull ahead and look to control my throw.
"I improved on my first round performance and I think the 158 knocked a bit of stuffing out of Steve.
"I still don^t think that I^m playing as well as I can but I^m in the quarter-finals now and I^m not scared of anybody."
ADRIAN LEWIS 13-5 VINCENT VAN DER VOORT
WORLD CHAMPION Adrian Lewis^ challenge to claim the Sky Bet Mobile World Matchplay title continued as he swept aside Vincent van der Voort 13-5 in the second round at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
Lewis had been pushed all the way in his first round clash with Kevin Painter, recovering from seeing six match darts to knock him out missed before he came back to win 14-12.
He had fewer problems against the Dutchman, who never recovered from a slow start as he lost the opening five legs without reply.
Lewis stamped his authority on the game early on, winning the opening leg before breaking on double ten in the second leg, and after van der Voort missed three darts at double top to get off the mark the Stoke ace followed an earlier 177 with tops to move 3-0 up.
Lewis also hit a 180 and an 81 finish in a 12-darter to take the fourth, and when he landed double 18 in the next he moved five legs clear at the break.
Van der Voort took out double top to finally get onto the scoreboard in the sixth, and after another 12-darter from Lewis the Dutchman hit top gear.
He took out double 19 to win a second leg, and then hit scores of 174 and 171 in a 12-dart leg to break Lewis^ throw, while double five in the tenth saw him cut the gap to 6-4.
The next two legs were shared before Lewis took out 86 to lead 8-5, and he then won what proved to be a key 14th, as van der Voort hit scores of 140 and 180 but missed his doubles as the World Champion took out a pressure 70 checkout.
Finishes of 120 and 96 gave Lewis and 11-5 cushion, and he then finished double eight before posting another 180 in opening the 18th leg, which he ended with a show-stopping 170 checkout to seal victory.
"I was expecting more from Vincent but he didn^t get going," said Lewis. "When I went 5-0 up I took my foot off the gas and he came back well, but then I hit another gear when he got back to 6-4.
"I^ve come off with a 100 average but still think I was in second gear, I wasn^t pushed and I was relaxed all the way through the game.
"It will be harder against Mark Webster and I know I^ve got to dig in deep and push him."
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD 13-9 PAUL NICHOLSON
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD ended Paul Nicholson^s hopes of Sky Bet Mobile World Matchplay glory with a 13-9 victory in their second round contest at the Winter Gardens on Wednesday night.
The Dutchman had endured a disrupted preparation for his first round clash with Steve Brown in Blackpool after leaving his darts at home in Holland, but booked his quarter-final spot with a strong display.
Nicholson played his part and held a 7-6 lead at one stage, but van Barneveld hit key finishes of 116 and 108 amongst a run of five successive legs as he took charge of the contest and went on to seal the win.
Nicholson could have won the game^s opening leg against the throw, but missed three darts at double 16 before van Barneveld returned from an earlier miss to land double nine.
Nicholson hit scores of 180 and 170 in setting up double four to level in the second, and an 11-dart leg edged him ahead against the throw in the third.
Van Barneveld hit back immediately on double 18, and double four moved him 3-2 up before he was unable to make a 180 count when he missed double 18 in the sixth, as Nicholson again levelled.
The next two were shared before van Barneveld took two in a row to move 6-4 up, firstly defying a maximum from Nicholson to set up double 16 with a 149 score before landing a 180 of his own before returning after his opponent missed tops for a 120 finish to hit the same bed.
Nicholson broke back on double 18, and after the pair traded 180s on the 12th leg he powered home a 164 checkout to level matters, before a pressure double top for an 80 finish saw him regain the lead at 7-6.
Van Barneveld, though, immediately broke back with a superb 116 checkout, and then hit a 180 in an 11-darter to put himself back in front at 8-7 - and finishes of 108, double four and double nine saw him extend the advantage to four legs.
He also had a chance to win a sixth successive leg in the next, but missed one dart at double top for a 111 finish as Nicholson made him pay by hitting the same bed.
Nicholson also won the 20th leg with an 82 checkout to threaten a comeback, but van Barneveld hit a sixth 180 of the game in winning the next in 14 darts, and posted another 180 before double ten sealed victory.
"It was a tough game so I^m happy to win it," said van Barneveld.
"Paul did well in the last few tournaments and beat Gary and Phil in the UK Open, and he^s having a fantastic year. He^s a class player but tonight he let me in a couple of times and maybe I was the better finisher.
"I can play a lot better but I got the win. If you win, the averages don^t matter and I did that, so I can look forward to the quarter-finals now.
"This tournament is very important to me, I want to make it to the final and I want to win it."
Nicholson said: "Raymond hit the key shots but I think he was there for the taking but I don^t think I was sharp enough tonight to take him out.
"Raymond^s a wonderful guy and it was a very honest game, like my game against Colin Osborne, and the better player won.
"When I hit the 164 I thought that may be my trigger, but it wasn^t enough. I didn^t hit enough 180s and 140s and I was always searching for my game."
JAMES WADE 13-11 MARK WALSH
JAMES WADE held off a spirited challenge from Mark Walsh before progressing to the quarter-finals of the Sky Bet Mobile World Matchplay with a narrow 13-11 victory on Wednesday night.
Wade, the 2007 World Matchplay champion, looked set to coast to victory when he took leads of 6-2 and 9-5 against the Hertfordshire thrower.
But Walsh hit back to trail just 11-10 before Wade eventually sealed the win with a 122 bullseye finish.
Wade made the stronger start, taking the first two legs with finishes of 68 and 80 before Walsh hit 180s in the next three, winning two but seeing Wade finish 121 on the bull in holding a 3-2 lead.
Wade fired in a maximum of his own in the sixth as he finished 91 to move two legs clear, before a 13-darter broke throw and double 12 moved him into a 6-2 advantage.
Walsh hit back to win two out of the next three legs in cutting the gap to 7-4, and posted another 180 to leave a finish in the 12th only to see Wade take out 102 to regain control.
A 13-dart finish from Walsh in reply was bettered by a 12-darter from Wade, and the duo traded 14-dart finishes before Walsh took out 108 in remaining in touch at 10-7.
Wade hit a 174 score and double ten in a 13-darter as he won his 11th leg of the game, only for Walsh to fire back with three successive legs, posting two 180s in the first of those, a 121 finish in the second and a 64 checkout for a 14-dart leg as he pulled back to 11-10.
Wade took out double top to edge a leg away from the win, only to see Walsh land the same bed for a 13-darter to threaten taking the match into a tie-breaker at 12-11.
Wade, though, produced one more big effort in checking out 122 on the bullseye to set up a tasty quarter-final clash with Raymond van Barneveld on Friday.
"I^m really happy because I thought the game was slipping away at the end," said Wade. "It^s frustrating because I^m giving opportunities away and being careless but I won and I^ll take that.
"This performance may be good enough to beat Raymond in the quarter-finals but I still want to play better.
"The 122 at the end was massive because I think if I^d not hit that I could have lost the game. He was getting back into the match and making me nervous."