It appeared to be little more than a blemish. A short extra lap only, ultimately not worth mentioning. The balance of power in this third round match of the Darts World Championship between Ryan Searle and José de Sousa was too clear. Searle had won the first three rounds without any problems and forgot to close the set in set four and then lost 2:3. He would be able to live with the flaw, especially since he finally held a match dart in his hand a set later when the score was 2:1.

He had already finished the third leg in the fifth round with the Shanghai finish, now the 120 points were waiting again. The 35-year-old hit the single 20, the triple 20, but then missed the decision on the double 20, got into the decider like in the previous sentence and conceded the 2:3.

The game had actually turned. While de Sousa, who was still struggling in the third set about his disastrous double quota of 7 percent, now began to hit the fields on the outer ring, Searle literally broke. The Englishman barely hit triples. His arrows flew into 1, 2, 3, and 5 in a row, the average dropped below 90 points.

De Sousa equalized with a 3:1 after sets and then got the win with another 3:1. After all, his double rate was 27.1 percent in the end, he hit 16 of his 59 attempts. And he had also distanced himself from his pitiable opponent in the average: 91.75 points to 87.51 points. 4: 3 after 0: 3 – the Portuguese escape artist had struck again. Already at his start in the second round against Simon Whitlock he won the match only after a 0:2 deficit.

Alan Soutar then immediately ensured the next successful race to catch up at Alexandra Palace. The Scottish firefighter, who was still on duty at the station over Christmas, was quickly 0:2 behind against the favorite Danny Noppert, but then started furiously against the number ninth in the world rankings. When he checked 152 points for a 3:2 lead, he finally turned the game around and continued spectacularly without a break. Six perfect darts made it 1-0 in round six, with 130 points to make it 2-0 he managed another high finish and the preliminary decision.

World No. 36 Soutar was down just two legs in the last four sets. An average of 93.38 was enough thanks to his strong double rate of 50 percent. Gabriel Clemens, his next opponent in the round of 16, has been warned.

Also in the round of 16 is Chris Dobey. The 32-year-old prevailed against Gary Anderson. After the 1:4, the Scot is not in the round of 16 for the first time since his PDC debut at the 2010 World Cup. Even more surprising, however, was the cool atmosphere on stage, as Dobey is considered the foster son of the 20-year-old world champion from 2015 and 2016. “Gary said something during the last break that I didn’t like. That was wrong. And then at the latest, it was clear to me that today would be nothing for him. He’s a great guy, we all know that. But I didn’t like that,” Dobey explained.

Anderson had started the match impressively strong and, thanks to an average of 115.62 points, won the first set 3-0. However, the perfect start did not give him security. Especially in the decisive moments, Anderson wobbled on the doubles and lost his scoring power as the game went on. After four sets, he had won just as many legs as his opponent, but was 1:3 behind and then apparently only had something to counter Dobey, who in the end had an average of 95.34 to make it 4:1, backstage.

3rd round:

Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL/15) – Krzysztof Ratajski (POL/18) 4:1 (3:2; 3:0; 0:3; 3:1; 3:1)

Nathan Aspinall (ENG/10) – Josh Rock (NIR) 3:4 (2:3; 3:1, 3:1; 1:3; 2:3; 3:0; 1:3)

Jonny Clayton (WAL/7) – Brendan Dolan (NIR/26) 4:1 (3:2; 3:2; 3:2; 2:3; 3:2)

Jim Williams (WAL) – Gabriel Clemens (D/25) 3:4 (1:3; 3:0; 1:3; 3:2; 3:1; 2:3; 1:3)

Gerwyn Price (WAL/1) – Raymond van Barneveld (NED/32) 4:0 (3:1; 3:1; 3:2; 3:1)

Peter Wright (SCO/2) – Kim Huybrechts (BEL/31) 1:4 (3:0; 0:3; 1:3; 2:3; 2:3)

Ryan Searle (ENG/16) – Jose de Sousa (ENG/17) 3:4 (3:1; 3:2; 3:1; 2:3; 2:3; 1:3; 1:3)

Danny Noppert (NED/9) – Alan Soutar (SCO) 2:4 (3:1; 3:0; 1:3; 0:3; 1:3; 0:3)

Gary Anderson (SCO/11) – Chris Dobey (ENG/22) 1:4 (3:0; 2:3; 2:3, 2:3; 1:3)

from 8.15 p.m.:

Joe Cullen (ENG/13) – Damon Heta (AUS/20)

Michael van Gerwen (NED/3) – Mensur Suljovic (AUT/30)

Michael Smith (ENG/4) ­– Martin Schindler (D/29)