STEPHEN BUNTING is hoping for a double celebration of Liverpool winning the Premier League and then qualifying for the World Matchplay. The 2014 BDO World Champion admits he is buzzing that sport is back on the big stage with his beloved Reds on the verge of title success.
‘The Bullet’ will bid to grab his place in the Matchplay with five crucial Players Championships events in Milton Keynes from July 8. He said:
“I watched the football on Wednesday but it’s a bit weird without the fans and no atmosphere.
But obviously, when Liverpool are on I’ll be glued to the telly”.
“Watching the derby with Everton 7pm kick-off on Sunday is going to be strange in itself. I still think we’ll win the game then hopefully we can wrap up the title on Wednesday against Palace.
“Being at home has been so boring with no darts and also no football. It’s crazy. Me as a fan I look forward to games so much. You learn to appreciate sport so much.”
Bunting will need to hit the ground running for the Summer Series and reach the Matchplay on July 18.
The Bullet is currently World No.17 and will miss out on qualification unless he can outgun his nearest Order of Merit challengers in Milton Keynes. He also admits it will be a weird scenario at the Marshalls Arena, unlike any other ProTour event held before.
For diabetic players such as himself, Ian White, Andy Hamilton and Jamie Caven, the return to action poses extra problems.
He added: “The way it has worked out for me it makes it very difficult. Obviously I’ve just got to get to Milton Keynes and forget about everything and go and play.
“I’m 17 in the rankings. There’s also a possibility that not all the top 16 seeded players are going to come over for it, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. I can never count my chickens.
“Obviously I’ll be trying my hardest in Milton Keynes to earn that spot. I think I’m about £3,000 behind on the ProTour Order of Merit.
“If I can have a good five days in Milton Keynes then I can make it to Blackpool in my own right.
“It’s going to be a weird situation as well. We don’t know what’s happening or what the new protocols are.
“A big thing for me is travelling as well. Obviously I’ve got Type-2 diabetes so I’ve still got to be very careful. Getting to the venue is important and once you are there it’s OK.”
Bunting also reveals that he has made a huge decision to change his diet and lifestyle with so much information regarding Covid-19 affecting the vulnerable in society, which includes diabetes sufferers.
“My wife has bought me an exercise bike and I’ve been on that every day. I’ve changed my diet and I’m trying to do things away from the oche to make myself fitter”.
“A few family members have lost loads of weight in the past and are no longer diabetic so that’s something I can try and do. It’s going to benefit me in the long run with having more energy”.
“We’re on a healthy meal club and we get set 12 meals for a week sent to you. It’s perfect and I’m enjoying that and getting used to the exercise regime.
“I’m taking it slowly, not trying to be Superman right away.
Just building up the amounts I do so I don’t burn myself out!
“I’ve also tried to change my lifestyle by not staying up so late at night on the PlayStation. I’m going to bed earlier and waking up fresher with more energy.”.
Stephen Bunting will need to hit the ground running to be ready for the Summer Series and reach the Matchplay on July 18. He acknowledged the task ahead during an extensive conversation with Darts World.
Bunting also reveals that he has made a huge decision to change his diet and lifestyle with so much information regarding Covid-19 affecting the vulnerable in society, which includes diabetes sufferers. For diabetic players such as himself, Ian White, Andy Hamilton, and Jamie Caven, the return to action poses extra problems.
The former BDO World champion said:
“My wife has bought me an exercise bike and I’ve been on that every day.
I’ve changed my diet and I’m trying to do things away from the oche to make myself fitter”.
The Bullet has made several other changes in order to give him the best chance and darting success and reduce his increased COVID risk. “We’re on a healthy meal club and we get set 12 meals for a week sent to you”.
“It’s perfect and I’m enjoying that and getting used to the exercise regime.”
Other areas, of the Liverpool thrower’s daily routine, are are also receiving attention:
“I’ve also tried to change my lifestyle by not staying up so late at night on the PlayStation.
I’m going to bed earlier and waking up fresher with more energy.”.
He added: “The way it has worked out for me it makes it very difficult. Obviously I’ve just got to get to Milton Keynes and forget about everything and go and play.”
More from our exclusive chat with ‘The Bullet’ tomorrow!
Mike De Decker became the second player through to the Semi-Finals of the Low6 Home Tour Play-Offs, as he topped the table ahead of Glen Durrant, Stephen Bunting and Alan Tabern on Night Two.
The young Belgian started the night off with a narrow 6-5 defeat to Bunting, but then got his first win on the board with the victory by the same scoreline against Tabern, recovering brilliantly from 5-2 down.
Going into the fifth game of the night, he needed a convincing win to put pressure on the top of the table and did exactly that by beating three-time BDO Champion Durrant 6-4, but was still left waiting on the final result of the night to go his way.
And go his way it did, as Bunting, who was searching for a third straight win to top the group, started to struggle on his scoring and let Tabern run away as a 6-2 winner.
The heavy defeat for Bunting meant he finished in second, two behind De Decker on leg difference. The 24-year-old joins Jelle Klaasen in the Semi-Finals.
The Low6 Home Tour continues tomorrow with two-time World Champion Gary Anderson in action. All the action can be watched live and free through PDCTV for registered users (new users can sign up for FREE here), as well as through bookmakers’ websites and international broadcasters.
Registered PDCTV members can also watch for FREE through the official PDC App.
Low6 Home Tour Play-Offs Group Two – Wednesday May 27 (1930 BST) Stephen Bunting 6-5 Mike De Decker Glen Durrant 6-3 Alan Tabern Mike De Decker 6-5 Alan Tabern Stephen Bunting 6-3 Glen Durrant Glen Durrant 4-6 Mike De Decker Alan Tabern 6-2 Stephen Bunting
Fans in the UK & Ireland can watch through the Sky Sports App.
STEPHEN BUNTING is ready to step up his bid to be lockdown champion but admits he is “scared” about the sport returning to the big stage. The former BDO World Champion, talking exclusively to Darts World, continues his aim to be the first-ever PDC Home Tour winner tonight (Weds) against Glen Durrant, Alan Tavern, and Mike De Decker.
But The Bullet, 35, revealed he has major concerns about the re-start of sport during the coronavirus crisis.He said: “It’s tough to see what happens now if the Matchplay goes ahead because I haven’t had the chance to qualify for it as I’m World No.17. The tournaments I would have had to qualify haven’t happened.
“Also when we get back to full speed, how are they going to fit all these tournaments in? They are probably going to have to do five Pro Tours a week. “But is it safer for us to go over to Germany and play because restrictions have been lifted over there.
“I’m not being funny but I’ve got Type 2 diabetes, I don’t want to be getting on a plane with loads of other people. There’s a lot of things to sort. “There’s a huge death rate with this disease for those who have diabetes. “I am more susceptible to death than most. The figures are there to show that. That’s why I’ve been more scared to leave the house because you just don’t know.“
Look at Kenny Dalglish. He was a carrier but no symptoms. So if we re-start the tour, who’s to say that no one has got it unless we are all tested? “At the same time, we want to get back playing again. It’s a really hard situation.”
Despite all the worries, Bunting is confident of going all the way to being the first-ever lockdown World Champion – now that’s he moved his board.He added: “The board was downstairs just as you come in the front door. But over the last few days I’ve been moving stuff around. “I’ve got a three storey house so I’ve now put my son Toby on the top floor. My practice board is now in his old bedroom. It’s a lot more secure.“
In the past I’ve been practising when the postman has been at the door or deliveries. It was a bit of an annoyance. “It also backed onto the living room so the wife had to keep the TV noise down and that wasn’t fair for her either.“
I think it looks pretty good and I played in an online tournament on Monday against Ricky Evans and a few others and got to the semi-final. But I played some really good stuff. “You are playing the best players in the world. To be the first lockdown World Champion would be a great achievement. “Obviously I’ve been practicing and getting ready for it. I’ve got a very tough group but if I can play the way I did in the first group, I’ll be OK. My first nine-dart average was pretty big so if I can keep that up and finish good, I’ve got a chance of winning the whole thing.“
Me and Alan (Tabern) over the years have had some great games, both from St Helens so there’s a bit of rivalry there. “Glen Durrant has come over to the PDC and done pretty much the same as I did. That’ll be a good game because I don’t think we’ve played each other since he came across from the BDO.“Mike De Decker is also playing well to qualify so three different games but all very hard in other ways.
“It’s a tournament that you want to win. You could be the first name on that trophy, it also may also be the only name ever as it may never happen again. Hopefully the only lockdown World Champion!
“I think the novelty bit has worn off now. It’s a proper tournament you want to win. Playing in this is actually similar to the Pro Tour.“There’s no noise, all you can hear is your opponent behind you. What I do is put the streaming on my TV which is behind me.
“That means it’s my normal rhythm. I turn round to watch them throw, then step forward for my throw just like I normally do. It feels more natural. I find that easier because you pace yourself.”
Stephen Bunting enjoyed a clean sweep of wins as he topped Group 18 of the Unibet Home Tour on Monday night.
Bunting, the highest ranked player in the group, had to recover from 4-2 down to defeat Austrian Harald Leitinger 5-4 in the opening game of the night.
The world number 17 followed it up with a thumping 5-1 win over fellow-former Premier League star Kim Huybrechts, before sealing the group win with another 5-1 success over Nathan Derry.
The Unibet Home Tour continues on Tuesday night with Group 19, which will see Premier League table-topper Glen Durrant in action.
Unibet Home Tour Group 18 – Monday May 4 Stephen Bunting 5-4 Harald Leitinger Kim Huybrechts 5-2 Nathan Derry Harald Leitinger 5-0 Nathan Derry Stephen Bunting 5-1 Kim Huybrechts Kim Huybrechts 5-1 Harald Leitinger Stephen Bunting 5-1 Nathan Derry
Group 19 – Tuesday May 5 (1930 BST) Glen Durrant v Vincent van der Meer Justin Pipe v Maik Kuivenhoven Vincent van der Meer v Maik Kuivenhoven Glen Durrant v Justin Pipe Justin Pipe v Vincent van der Meer Maik Kuivenhoven v Glen Durrant
The battle to avoid elimination from the Unibet Premier League season continues on Thursday with Night Six at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, where Stephen Bunting also makes a Challenger appearance.
With four games remaining before Judgement Night sees the ninth-placed player eliminated from the Premier League, Daryl Gurney faces a crucial clash with table-topper Glen Durrant in Liverpool.
The Northern Irish ace picked up a second draw of the Premier League season last week in Exeter, before enjoying a confidence-boosting run to the semi-finals of the UK Open over the weekend.
“I haven’t given up on the Premier League yet,” said Gurney. “I’m playing well, I’m still getting my confidence back and hopefully in Liverpool I can get two points.
“Glen’s top of the Premier League and he’s going to be refreshed. He had a bad draw in the UK Open against Peter and lost on Friday but it was a high-quality game.
“He’ll be ready for Thursday but I’ve taken some confidence from the UK Open. In the last few weeks I’ve played really well, even in the Premier League. I’m still trying to look at the positives.”
A win for Gurney would see him draw level on four points with Rob Cross ahead of the 2019 finalist’s clash with Bunting later in the evening in Liverpool.
Cross took victory when the pair met in the UK Open on Saturday, continuing his recent return to form after first-game exits at the World Championship and The Masters.
“In the last two or three months I’ve changed everything, but I feel so much better for it and maybe my results haven’t reflected that yet, but when it does click I believe I’m going to be better than ever,” said Cross.
“It’s getting there now My practice game is absolutely lovely, I’ve probably just lacked a bit of confidence on stage or on the ProTour, coming out a little bit nervous.”
Cross added: “It’s going to be an amazing night. Stephen’s Liverpool through and through and I’ve got to get on with my job. I believe I’ll be good this week.”
Luke Humphries became the first Challenger to win on the Premier League stage by defeating Gary Anderson in Exeter, and St Helens’ Bunting is hoping to follow suit in front of his home appearance.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Bunting, who previously competed in the Premier League in 2015. “I’m proud to be associated with the Premier League again.
“Playing in Liverpool is a massive achievement in itself, and to be back in the Premier League shows how well my form’s picked up over the last couple of years.
“This last year-and-a-half I’ve really stepped it up again. I’m putting the hours in, I’m loving the game again and I’m reaping the rewards and playing some of the best darts I’ve ever played.”
St Helens’ Michael Smith also gets the chance to star in his local arena this week, opening the event against Peter Wright as he bids to continue his strong recent form.
Smith hit a nine-darter against Gurney a fortnight ago in Dublin before seeing off Michael van Gerwen in Exeter, and the 2018 finalist has now won three successive games in a fine run.
“It’s the happiest I’ve been playing darts,” he admitted. “There’s no pressure on me – I’m there to do a job and hopefully I can keep winning.
“I want to be competing in the Premier League all season so I want to make sure I get past the cut-off and then focus on the top four.”
Van Gerwen takes on Gerwyn Price in another huge clash in Liverpool, with the pair having met in the final of the UK Open on Sunday in a contest which was edged by the Dutchman.
“When Gerwyn is on his game, he’s a phenomenal player,” said Van Gerwen. “He’s going to win more tournaments in the future – it was my turn on Sunday.
“I had to work hard at the weekend and it gives me great confidence. I’m in good form and I want to continue this now. I feel hungry now and I want to win more.”
The night’s other tie in Liverpool sees two-time Premier League champion Gary Anderson up against US Darts Masters winner Nathan Aspinall.
Tickets for the Unibet Premier League’s visit to the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool are still available through mandsbankarena.com or by calling 0344 8000 400.
Stephen Bunting and James Wade advanced to the third round of the 2019/20 William Hill World Darts Championship on Wednesday at London’s Alexandra Palace.
Day Six of darts’ biggest event saw Bunting come through a dramatic tie-break with Spain’s Jose Justicia to claim his first win on the Alexandra Palace stage in four years.
Bunting, who reached the quarter-finals in the 2014/15 event before enduring four disappointing World Championship campaigns, eventually shook off a dogged Justicia to end his miserable run in thrilling fashion.
“I’m massively relieved, it was a difficult game because Jose kept battling back,” said former Lakeside Champion Bunting.
“I always felt up for the battle and to win it in the way I did shows I’ve got the guts.
“I haven’t won on this stage in four years and that was at the back of my mind, so it’s good to get rid of that record.
“I truly believe I can win this tournament and now it’s about going out there and showing it.”
Bunting looked on course for victory as he led 2-1 in sets, but Justicia showed great determination to take the match to a final set, and after Bunting took a two-leg lead in the decider, Justicia once again fought back with finishes of 80 and 74 to take the game to a tie-break.
After Bunting didn’t give himself a dart at double on 72, Justicia stepped in to hit double 12 for a break of throw.
With Justicia waiting on 40 for the match in the next leg, Bunting found a crucial bullseye to check out 84 to make it 3-3 in the deciding set.
The pair then exchanged legs before Bunting held throw and then took out 64 in two darts to wrap up an overdue World Championship victory.
Two-time World Championship semi-finalist Wade enjoyed a simpler passage into round three as he saw off Ritchie Edhouse in straight sets.
A typically clinical performance from the nine-time televised title winner saw him miss just five darts at double, never allowing Edhouse a way in to the contest.
“I felt really nervous tonight, I was a bit uncomfortable up there,” said Wade.
“I should’ve been more comfortable but I’m happy to be through.
“I’m happy to be through but I should have a different mindset for the next one.”
Harry Ward produced a miraculous comeback to secure victory on his World Championship debut against Latvia’s Madars Razma.
Ward, a winner of a PDC Players Championship event in May, took the opening set 3-0 but then lost eight successive legs to trail 2-1 in sets and 2-0 in legs in the fourth set.
However, 22-year-old Ward showed great spirit to dig deep and turn the match on its head, winning the last six legs without reply to secure a hard-fought 3-2 win.
Seigo Asada became the second Japanese player through to the second round with an impressive 3-0 demolition of Mickey Mansell.
Asada’s accuracy on the outer ring saw him hit nine of his 13 attempts at double to prevent Northern Irishman Mansell from getting a foothold in the contest.
There were also whitewash wins for Dutchman Ron Meulenkamp and Josh Payne, who proved too strong for New Zealand debutant Ben Robb and Brazil’s Diogo Portela respecitvely.
Germany youngster Nico Kurz missed a dart at double 12 for a nine-dart finish on his World Championship debut as he claimed a convincing 3-1 win over James Wilson.
Kurz defeated Gary Anderson in July’s German Darts Masters and the 22-year-old continued his rise with an eye-catching display on the world stage.
Fellow-German Clemens missed four match darts as he crashed out to Dutchman Benito van de Pas.
Van de Pas was the underdog coming into the contest, but he never allowed Clemens to take the lead in sets before coming back from 2-0 down in the last set to snatch victory.
The William Hill World Championship continues on Thursday with another two sessions as the first round draws to a close in the afternoon, before Gerwyn Price and Dave Chisnall begin their campaigns in the evening.
Day Seven will be broadcast live on the Sky Sports Darts channel and through NOW TV in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.
Wednesday December 18 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round Ron Meulenkamp 3-0 Ben Robb (First Round) Seigo Asada 3-0 Mickey Mansell (First Round) Harry Ward 3-2 Madars Razma (First Round) Stephen Bunting 3-2 Jose Justicia (Second Round)
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 3x First Round, 1x Second Round Nico Kurz 3-1 James Wilson (First Round) Josh Payne 3-0 Diogo Portela (First Round) Benito van de Pas 3-2 Gabriel Clemens (First Round) James Wade 3-0 Ritchie Edhouse (Second Round)
Nine-dart hero Michael van Gerwen and in-form Gerwyn Price headlined the eight players to progress to Sunday’s final stages of the Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals at the Butlin’s Minehead Resort.
An action-packed Saturday in Somerset saw the second round and third rounds take place as the field was whittled down to the last eight, who will now challenge for the £100,000 title on the final day of play.
Van Gerwen stole the show in Minehead with two outstanding performances, including a perfect leg during his 6-5 second round win over Adrian Lewis.
The achievement, which came in leg eight as he opened up a 5-3 lead, was only the second nine-darter in the history of the event and the first in a televised match for over 12 months.
Van Gerwen went on to deny Lewis in a deciding leg, before coming from 3-1 and 6-5 down in the third round against James Wade to reel off five straight legs in booking a quarter-final place.
“It was a good day for me,” said Van Gerwen, who averaged 106 to Wade’s 102 in a high-quality game.
“I think it was a great game to watch against James. I had to dig deep but I missed some darts early on and I was behind him so I had to work really hard.
“I did the right things at the right moments against both Adrian and James but now I have to focus on the final day. I know I have got more in my power and I want to show that.”
Van Gerwen now plays Mervyn King in the last eight, with the 2010 finalist following up his 6-4 win over Dave Chisnall in round two with a 105 average to see off world number two Rob Cross 10-4.
King sealed his third round win with a 131 checkout, and despite battling the pain of a sciatic nerve problem is aiming to repeat his Minehead win over Van Gerwen in March’s UK Open.
“I’m really pleased to be through because when my sciatica starts then you can’t get rid of it, and if the game with Rob had gone on much longer I might not have lasted,” said King.
“I’ll rest now and get myself ready for the quarter-finals because I’ve beaten Michael before and I can do it again.”
Grand Slam of Darts winner Gerwyn Price continued his challenge to claim a second successive title with an impressive day in Minehead, following up a 6-0 whitewash of Keegan Brown with a 102 average in a 10-4 win over Mensur Suljovic.
“I’m happy to get through to the last day but I’ve got a lot more in the tank and hopefully I can bring it out tomorrow,” said Price.
“I was slow out of the blocks against Mensur so to average 102 is great – but I will need to play better to take this title. I won’t take anything for granted, I’ll just focus on my next game.”
Price’s quarter-final opponent will be Stephen Bunting, who was in superb form as he averaged 105 to see off Jose De Sousa 6-3 on Saturday afternoon before topping that with a 107 average in a 10-2 defeat of Ryan Meikle in the last 16.
The wins moved Bunting into the last eight of the event for a second successive year, and he said: “It’s an amazing feeling and today I’ve produced two of my most consistent games ever.
“Hopefully I can continue this form and I can look forward to a great game against Gerwyn. I’m working really hard behind the scenes and I feel brilliant in my game and brilliant in myself.
“I believe I’m better now than I’ve ever been. I’m loving playing darts and it’s showing.”
Raymond van Barneveld’s bid to say farewell to Minehead with glory continued as he defeated Joe Cullen 6-3 before then overcoming Glen Durrant 10-3 – despite the Lakeside Champion narrowly missing double 12 for a nine-darter.
“I feel good and I’m happy because I’ve been playing well,” said Van Barneveld. “It’s a massive win against a three-time World Champion, and even though Glen wasn’t at his best I’m really happy to be through.
“I’ve been practising hard on my doubles and I’ve got nothing to lose. I was under pressure earlier in the year to qualify for things but that’s gone now and I’d love to play a couple of games more and maybe reach the final here.”
Van Barneveld’s quarter-final opponent will be Chris Dobey, who whitewashed James Wilson in round two before coming from 5-2 down to defeat John Henderson 10-5.
Dobey also reached the last eight 12 months ago, and admitted: “I’m relieved to be through to the final day and hopefully I can keep progressing.
“I’m confident in my game, I’m playing well and my doubles are going in. I felt good today and against John I came back with all guns blazing.”
Ian White reached the quarter-finals of the event for a third time with an outstanding 107.46 average in a 10-4 defeat of Michael Smith on Saturday night, following up his narrow 6-5 win over Vincent van der Voort in round two.
“It’s nice to be through,” said White. “I’m playing good darts and I want to keep this going tomorrow. I had a tough game in the afternoon but everything went in for me tonight and I felt good.”
White will meet William O’Connor after the Irishman – a World Cup finalist in June alongside Steve Lennon – secured his spot in the last eight of a televised singles tournament for the first time.
O’Connor was a 6-3 winner against Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski in round two, before ending the challenge of emerging German ace Gabriel Clemens with a 10-7 success.
O’Connor led 4-0 before seeing his lead cut to one leg, and Clemens also landed a ten-darter but was never able to level as the 33-year-old from Limerick moved into Sunday’s final day of action.
“Gabriel has been in savage form so it’s a huge game to get over him, and I’ll prepare for one big game on Sunday now in the last eight and see how that goes,” said O’Connor.
“I want to be more consistent and I have to work on that, but I have my chance now and I want to take it.”
Sunday’s Players Championship Finals winner will scoop a £100,000 first prize, with Van Gerwen being the only former champion still remaining in the competition.
The final day of action will also feature the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship final between Adam Gawlas, a 17-year-old from the Czech Republic, and Luke Humphries, the two-time Development Tour Order of Merit winner.
2019 Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals
Saturday November 23
Gerwyn Price 6-0 Keegan Brown
James Wade 6-1 Ricky Evans
Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Danny Noppert
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Luke Woodhouse
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Adrian Lewis – Michael van Gerwen hits nine-dart finish
Brothers Rowby-John and Rusty-Jake Rodriguez were amongst three home favourites to win through to the second round of the Austrian Darts Championship on a dramatic opening day of the PDC European Tour event in Vienna.
The £140,000 tournament at the Multiversum Schwechat began with 16 first round ties on Friday, with the Rodriguez brothers holding their nerve alongside Dietmar Burger to join fellow Austrian Mensur Suljovic – one of the 16 seeds – in the last 32.
Rowby-John won a tense battle of former World Youth Championship finalists against Josh Payne 6-5, coming from 4-1 down to lead 5-4 before surviving three missed match darts in the deciding leg.
He pinned double 16, to the delight of his home crowd, to set up a second round tie with Daryl Gurney.
Younger brother Rusty-Jake had earlier defeated Development Tour Order of Merit leader Ted Evetts 6-3, with the 18-year-old former JDC Junior World Champion now playing number two seed Ian White.
Burger, meanwhile, landed six doubles from seven attempts in a fine 6-3 win over Norway’s Cor Dekker to set up a clash with Dave Chisnall, this year’s Danish Darts Open winner.
Hannes Schnier came agonisingly close to being a fourth Austrian to win through to the second round before losing out 6-5 to former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown.
Brown led 5-3 before the Host Nation Qualifier took out 120 to save the game and 155 to force a decider, but an 89 finish moved the Isle of Wight ace through to face UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall.
The other two Austrian qualifiers, Alex Steinbauer and Christian Goedl, also suffered defeat as they went down to Kirk Shepherd and Jeffrey de Zwaan respectively.
Shepherd’s 6-4 win over Steinbauer set up a tie with Ricky Evans, while De Zwaan now takes on Darren Webster after pulling clear from two-all to see off Goedl 6-3, missing double 12 for a nine-dart finish in the game’s final leg.
The opening day’s most impressive display came from Czech teenager Adam Gawlas, as the 17-year-old qualifier celebrated his European Tour debut with a 6-5 win over Ross Smith, surviving two missed match darts from the UK Open quarter-finalist.
Gawlas, 17, won through last weekend’s East Europe Qualifier and has only been playing for six months, but impressed with finishes of 88 on the bull, 108 and a 14-darter as he shared the opening six legs.
Smith produced superb legs of 12 and ten darts to move 5-3 up, with Gawlas responding with legs of 14 and 13 darts to force a decider before capitalising on his opponent’s two misses at double 16 to hit the same bed for victory.
Luke Humphries produced an impressive 12-darter in the deciding leg of his tie against June’s Czech Darts Open winner Jamie Hughes, and he now meets Joe Cullen on Saturday.
World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh recorded the day’s highest average of almost 102 as he saw off Mark Webster 6-3, securing a clash with Peter Wright in round two.
Fellow Belgian Mike De Decker edged out Chris Dobey 6-5 and now plays Jonny Clayton, while German youngster Christian Bunse’s reward for a deciding-leg win over Jermaine Wattimena is a tie against two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis.
Australia’s Kyle Anderson set up a second-round clash with World Champion Michael van Gerwen by seeing off Stephen Bunting 6-4, with the former Lakeside Champion battling back from 2-0 down to level and 5-2 down to threaten to take the tie to a decider.
Vincent van der Voort won the meeting between former Austrian Darts Open winners against Justin Pipe 6-4 to create a second round clash with Simon Whitlock, and James Wilson meets Steve Beaton following a 6-3 win over Derry’s Gavin Carlin.
Cameron Menzies’ reward for a 6-1 defeat of Germany’s Kevin Munch is a tie against World Championship finalist Michael Smith, while Brendan Dolan now takes on Grand Slam of Darts winner Gerwyn Price following a 6-4 defeat of William O’Connor.
Following Saturday’s second round, the tournament concludes on Sunday with the third round in the afternoon session before the decisive quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in the evening session.
The Austrian Darts Championship will be broadcast through PDCTV-HD at video.pdc.tv for all subscribers worldwide, as well as through a series of bookmakers’ websites.
2019 Austrian Darts Championship
August 30-September 1, Multiversum Schwechat, Vienna
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