Slowly but surely things are coming to a head at the Darts World Championship. One day after the number one, Michael Smith and Michael van Gerwen, the other two big contenders for the title, also made it into the quarter-finals.
Thanks to an average of 103.25 points, the “Bully Boy” Smith beat his friend Joe Cullen 4:1, and van Gerwen also didn’t let anything go by with a 4:1 win over his compatriot Dirk van Duijvenbode. His opponent provided the highlight of the match with a 170 finish in the second set, but MVG used his opponent’s weaknesses on the doubles to secure victory.
“That was just my B-game, I wasn’t comfortable today, didn’t get into my zone. But obviously I still threw a couple of really good darts, otherwise I wouldn’t have had an average of 100 in the end,” said van Gerwen with a wink, who saw himself more influenced by his opponent’s behavior than his game: “Dirk has the whole book of darts played. He tried to disrupt my rhythm, to slow me down. But he didn’t care about his own game,” said the top favorite for the title.
Nevertheless, the mind games definitely had an effect. “I said to myself: stay calm and just destroy him,” said van Gerwen: “I didn’t want to read that van Duijvenbode threw me out of the tournament.”
This is exactly the feat that Chris Dobey will attempt. After Gary Anderson, the 32-year-old Englishman took Rob Cross, the next world champion, out of the tournament. “Hollywood” also cracked the 100 mark in average and ended up with a point average of 102.13. The quality increases. At Dobey, primarily at the end of the match.
After being 1:2 behind, he pulled through to make it 4:2. His start to the race to catch up was spectacular: in round four he played an average of 121.72 points. “Dobey is a very talented player who rarely shows his potential. I’m looking forward to the match,” said van Gerwen about his upcoming opponent, who reached the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time.
Michael Smith takes on Stephen Bunting in a somewhat surprising round of eight on January 1st. The Bullet beat a disappointing Luke Humphries 4-1. The number five in the world rankings only averaged 89.92 points, ten less than Bunting.
In the afternoon, alongside Smith and Gabriel Clemens, the Belgian Dimitri van den Bergh also made it into the quarter-finals. The world number 15 prevailed in a one-sided match against compatriot Kim Huybrechts and now meets Jonny Clayton after the rest day in the new year.
Round of 16:
Kim Huybrechts (BEL/31) – Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL/15) 0:4 (0:3; 2:3; 1:3; 0:3)
Gabriel Clemens (D/25) – Alan Soutar (SCO) 4:1 (3:0; 1:3; 3:0; 3:2; 3:2)
Michael Smith (ENG/4) – Joe Cullen (ENG/13) 4:1 (3:2; 0:3; 3:0; 3:2; 3:2)
Chris Dobey (ENG/22) – Rob Cross (ENG/6) 4:2 (1:3; 3:0; 0:3; 3:2; 3:1; 3:2)
Michael van Gerwen (NED/3) – Dirk van Duijvenbode (NED/14) 4:1 (3:1; 3:1; 1:3; 3:2; 3:0)
Stephen Bunting (ENG/21) – Luke Humphries (ENG/5) 4:1 (3:1; 3:0; 1:3; 3:2; 3:0)
Jonny Clayton (WAL/7) – Dimitri van den Bergh (BEL/15)
Michael Smith (ENG/4) –Stephen Bunting (ENG/21)
Gerwyn Price (WAL/1) – Gabriel Clemens (D/25)
Michael van Gerwen (ENG/3) – Chris Dobey (ENG/22)