RVB beaten in final tournament as Cross crashes out
Darin Young stunned retiring legend Raymond van Barneveld to abruptly end the Dutchman’s career on an incredible night where Rob Cross was beaten 3-0 by Kim Huybrechts.
The American veteran wasn’t fancied to beat Van Barneveld, but produced a gutsy display of timing to seal a 3-1 win despite a significantly lower average.
The five-time World Champion announced over twelve months ago that this would be his final tournament, and the vital doubles didn’t go for him leading to an understandably dejected post-match interview, reminiscent of the situation in Rotterdam in March.
However, this time it’s definitely it for the devastated Van Barneveld, who belittled his excellent career and said he will never forgive himself for tonight’s performance in an interview that will surely be regretted very soon.
He also failed to say thank you and goodbye to his adoring fans when given the opportunity.
Huge credit must go to Young, who improved his poor record at the World Championship to set up a second round meeting with Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Immediately afterwards, while much of the crowd were still recovering from the previous match, Kim Huybrechts produced a brilliant display of finishing to beat an out of sorts Rob Cross who only won two legs in the whole match to see £385,000 drop from his ranking.
The 2018 World Champion was consistently struggling with a late release and an average of 89 was nowhere near enough to progress to the last 32 as his section of the draw gets thrown wide open.
European Darts Matchplay winner Joe Cullen is arguably the favourite to come through it and reach the last eight, but he was in a similar situation last year after Gerwyn Price went out only to lose to Brendan Dolan.
Unbelievably, the evening session had a third shock as the out of form Zoran Lerchbacher eventually got over the line against top ProTour qualifier Jamie Hughes, having previously missed eight match darts.
In a game where all but one of the 25 possible legs were played, it was the Austrian who stayed in control for the majority despite Hughes having the higher scoring power.
‘Yozza’ is left to reflect on an excellent first year in the PDC, but his results in the TV tournaments can certainly be improved. Another former BDO star, Mark McGeeney, did manage to progress though, beating Matt Campbell 3-1.
A 100 average saw ‘The Gladiator’ take the first set before another impressive showing handed him a 2-0 lead. Canadian Campbell pulled a set back, but the former Lakeside finalist squeezed through in the fifth leg of the fourth set to book a clash with Ricky Evans.
In the afternoon session, the most entertaining match was comfortably the last one. The second round meeting between Luke Humphries and Jermaine Wattimena went all the way to a sudden-death leg and will be remembered for a long time as an Ally Pally classic.
The rapid Wattimena stormed to the first set in around 5 minutes, but Humphries then went on a sensational run of 3 legs in 35 darts to level up.
Wattimena re-took the lead in a topsy-turvy affair, only for the newly-crowned World Youth Champion to continue the pattern of the game and send it to a fifth set.
The first four legs all went with through, sending us to the first extra time period of the 2020 World Championship. ‘The Machine Gun’ found a crucial break in the ninth leg, but failed to capitalise, and when Humphries won the darts for the decider and kicked off 121, 140, it looked like he would be embarking on another run at the Palace.
A quarter-finalist last year, Humphries became the second man into the last 32 with a brilliant 13-darter.
Paul Lim was another legend to crash out on day two, the impressive Luke Woodhouse sealing a big 3-0 win as he looks to retain his Tour Card.
‘Woody’ won all 3 sets 3-1 and limited the 65-year-old to only seven darts at double to seal a date with Michael Smith on Sunday night.
Elsewhere, Yuki Yamada started things off well for the Japanese trio in action this year. A high-quality first two sets were shared between Yamada and Ryan Meikle, but the match descended into a nerve-ridden battle from then on.
Yamada got over the line 3-1, but there were no such nerves for Darius Labanauskas who beat Matthew Edgar at the World Championship for the second year running. Winning the first seven legs, the Lithuanian never looked in trouble despite efforts from Edgar to gee up the crowd when a won his first leg.
A quite incredible, and at times surreal night at Alexandra Palace after an indifferent afternoon was sparked into life by Luke Woodhouse and the brilliant game between Humphries and Wattimena.
We do it all again on Sunday, eight more games with last year’s finalist Michael Smith, ninth seed Ian White and women’s World Champion Mikuru Suzuki among those in action.
PDC World Darts Championship
Saturday December 14
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
R1: Darius Labanauskas 3-0 Matthew Edgar (3-0, 3-0, 3-2)
R1: Ryan Meikle 1-3 Yuki Yamada (3-2, 2-3, 2-3, 1-3)
R1: Luke Woodhouse 3-0 Paul Lim (3-1, 3-1, 3-1)
R2: Jermaine Wattimena 2-3 Luke Humphries (3-0, 1-3, 3-1, 1-3, 5-6)
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
R1: Mark McGeeney 3-1 Matt Campbell (3-1, 3-1, 1-3, 3-2)
R1: Jamie Hughes 2-3 Zoran Lerchbacher (2-3, 3-1, 2-3, 3-2, 2-3)
R1: Raymond van Barneveld 1-3 Darin Young (1-3, 3-0, 2-3, 2-3)
R2: Rob Cross 0-3 Kim Huybrechts (1-3, 0-3, 1-3)
Saturday December 15
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT)
R1: Kyle Anderson v Zong Xiaochen
R1: Ross Smith v Ciaran Teehan
R1: Brendan Dolan v Nitin Kumar
R2: Ian White v Darius Labanauskas
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
R1: Arron Monk v Jose Justicia
R1: Andy Boulton v Danny Baggish
R1: James Richardson v Mikuru Suzuki
R2: Michael Smith v Luke Woodhouse
Picture: Getty Images/Alex Burstow