Michael van Gerwen lays down marker with emphatic win Watch the 2023 PDC World Darts Championship – live on Sky Sports Darts. We’re back on Thursday for a double session at 12.30pm and 7pm with Dirk van Duijvenbode, Gary Anderson and Vincent van der Voort in action
By Raz Mirza at Alexandra Palace & Brian Barry
Last Updated: 21/12/22 11:36pm
Michael van Gerwen began his pursuit for a fourth World Championship with a comfortable opening-round win against Welshman Lewy Williams, while darts’ prodigy Josh Rock continued to prove himself on the big stage by crushing Callan Rydz.
Van Gerwen, who has already won the Premier League, World Matchplay, World Grand Prix as well as his seventh Players Championship title during 2022, was in rampant mood in a comprehensive whitewash of world No 70 Williams in under 19 minutes.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Rock rolled on at the home of darts with a routine 3-0 win against ‘The Riot’ Rydz, who was left to rue missed opportunities.
Wednesday, December 21 – Evening Results
|Mervyn King||3-2||Danny Baggish (R1)|
|Gabriel Clemens||3-0||William O’Connor (R1)|
|Michael van Gerwen||3-0||Lewy Williams (R1)|
|Stephen Bunting||3-1||Leonard Gates (R2)|
Dutchman Van Gerwen started slowly and threw some erratic darts at times, but still did enough to win the opener 3-1 with a 90.18 average.
Things quickly changed for the tournament favourite in the next when the world No 3 rattled off a 13-darter, and two consecutive 94 outs – finishing the set off in just 36 darts for a monumental 125.25 average – all in under four minutes.
He sent a message to the rest of the field, averaging over a ton for the 34th time on the Ally Pally stage, as he completed a 3-0 success to storm into the third round.
“It wasn’t perfection but it is what I do I think I played quite well,” Van Gerwen, three-time world champion, said. “I had to work quite hard for it, it didn’t come from nothing, but to be back here gives me a lot of pleasure.
“To come back and have this type of support means a lot to me. Alexandra Palace has a special place in my heart.
“I know what I am capable of and as long as the crowd keeps cheering for me in good and bad times, that is the most important thing.”
Veteran Mervyn King came out on top in a real thriller against Danny Baggish in a deciding set to seal his spot in the third round.
King struck back from 2-0 down to snatch the opening set with finishes of 84 on the bullseye and a smart 86 two-dart combination before the No 27 seed picked out double 16 to edge the next in a decider.
A regal 124 for a 12-darter enabled King to mount a comeback in the third set but the 56-year-old was unable to pin tops for the match, handing Baggish a way back into the match on double 12.
‘The Gambler’ was now in the ascendancy and after nailing a fabulous 112 the contest went down to a deciding set shootout, but King held firm to clinch victory.
‘German Giant’ Gabriel Clemens produced a stunning display to ease past Beau Greaves’ conqueror Willie O’Connor 3-0.
Clemens sent the large contingent of German fans wild at Ally Pally as he averaged 95.6, hit four 180s and nailed checkouts of 131 and 132 on his way to a spectacular win.
Stephen Bunting recovered from a set down to defeat fan-favourite Leonard Gates 3-1 with seven 180s and two ton-plus checkouts.
Gates produces a nerveless 101 checkout to capture the first set in a deciding leg after an earlier 122 from ‘The Bullet’ but Bunting struck back to level following a marathon of missed doubles at the backend of the second set.
The former Lakeside champion turned the tables to take the third set 3-1 ahead before moving to the brink of victory with a huge 124 finish and it was not long before he closed it out with a neat 15-dart leg.
Wednesday, December 21 – Afternoon Results
|John O’Shea||2-3||Darius Labanauskas (R1)|
|Martijn Kleermaker||3-0||Xicheng Han (R1)|
|Callan Rydz||0-3||Josh Rock (R1)|
|Dave Chisnall||3-1||Andrew Gilding (R2)|
Rock rolls on to a mouth-watering meeting with Aspinall
‘Rocky’, who has enjoyed a remarkable breakout year, continued his debut run with victory despite being far from his best for long periods.
There were 20 missed darts in the opening set by both players, but the tournament’s fifth favourite levelled with a remarkable 118.66 average in the next before taking the lead after landing a 62 checkout in a crucial deciding leg.
His performance crescendoed from there, and he sealed the final set in style.
The Antrim ace stormed into the third round with real momentum, where he will face Nathan Aspinall in a blockbuster showdown.
Title contender Dave Chisnall delivered a top-class performance to see off a strong Andrew Gilding challenge.
The St Helens’ thrower averaged 97.87, and hit seven maximums in a high-scoring performance. The 12th seed dropped the first set, but then reeled off three in succession to prevail 3-1.
Darius Labanauskas turned a 0-2 deficit into a 3-2 triumph, with a dramatic comeback to deny John O’Shea.
‘The Joker’ claimed the opening two sets, despite ‘Lucky D’ winning the first two legs of each.
However, the 2021 quarter-finalist eventually clicked into gear, and had to ride his luck at times before eventually prevailing in the deciding set.
Meanwhile, Martijn Kleermaker had too much for China’s Xicheng Han. It was all one-way traffic, as the Dutchman dropped just two legs in a 3-0 procession, setting up a second-round meeting with ‘Hollywood’ Chris Dobey.
Thursday at Ally Pally
Fifth seed Luke Humphries will headline a star-studded double session which also includes two-time world champion Gary Anderson and 10-time TV title winner James Wade.
Thursday, December 22 – Fixtures (1230 GMT)
|Krzysztof Ratajski||vs||Danny Jansen (R1)|
|Ryan Searle||vs||Adam Gawlas (R1)|
|Mensur Suljovic||vs||Mike De Decker (R1)|
|Dirk van Duijvenbode||vs||Karel Sedlacek (R2)|
Thursday, December 22 – Fixtures (1900 GMT)
|Gary Anderson||vs||Madars Razma (R1)|
|James Wade||vs||Jim Williams (R1)|
|Luke Humphries||vs||Florian Hempel (R1)|
|Vincent van der Voort||vs||Cameron Menzies (R2)|
Watch the 2023 PDC World Darts Championship – live on Sky Sports Darts – all the way through to the final on January 3.
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