O’Connor avenges his defeat to Hopp in last year’s European Championship (credit:Tobias Wenzel/PDC)
Wayne Jones pulled off a shock 6-4 scalp of Jeffrey De Zwaan in the opening round of the 2019 European Darts Matchplay in Mannheim on Friday, while Jamie Hughes, Kim Huybrechts and William O’Connor all survived scares.
Day One of the season’s eleventh European Tour saw 32 qualifiers looking to secure places in Saturday’s Second Round – where the 16 seeded players will enter the £140,000 event.
Jones, a former World Championship semi-finalist, reeled off four consecutive legs from 4-2 down to dump out the world number 28 at the Maimarkthalle.
Huybrechts defeated Robert Thornton in a last leg decider as he reversed his defeat to the Scot in the 2015 European Open final.
The Belgian averaged 97.35 in a thrilling contest which saw Thornton land a 170 checkout but miss a dart at tops for a 134 checkout for the match.
“It was a really tough game for the both of us,” admitted Huybrechts. “We know what we can do but we’re not doing it at the right time.”
“The standard is getting so high and you need to follow it. After a few losses you will really struggle to get back to the level you were at.”
Michael Smith set up a tantalising Second Round clash with Michael van Gerwen after a 6-3 win over Steve Lennon.
Lennon’s World Cup of Darts partner William O’Connor will play Peter Wright in Round Two after edging a nail-biting deciding leg against German number one Max Hopp in a crucial contest towards qualification for next month’s European Championship.
Host Nation qualifier Karsten Koch also landed a sensational 170 checkout on his way to a 6-3 win over Holland’s Maik Kuivenhoven, while Czech Open champion Jamie Hughes survived a scare as he denied Wesley Plaisier in a last-leg shoot-out.
Nineteen-year-old Bradley Brooks set up a show-down with James Wade after overcoming former Lakeside finalist Mark McGeeney 6-4 despite an average of 102 from his opponent.
Two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis will face Dirk van Duijvenbode in his first assignment of the weekend after the passionate Dutchman fought off a spirited comeback from Poland’s Krzysztof Kciuk to prevail in a last leg decider.
John Henderson achieved the only winning ton-plus average of the afternoon (101.72) as he saw off Ally Pally quarter-finalist Ryan Joyce 6-3.
New Zealander Cody Harris punished Ross Smith’s crucial missed darts at double with a 6-4 victory to confirm a clash with Glen Durrant, while home hero Gabriel Clemens put in a dominant display as he defeated his compatriot Steffen Siepmann 6-2.
UK Open quarter-finalist Simon Stevenson defeated home hopeful Florian Hempel 6-3, while Scott Taylor battled from 4-2 down to claim a 6-5 victory over Matthew Edgar.
Ryan Meikle achieved his first European Tour victory of the year as he denied Brett Claydon 6-3, while debutant qualifier Marvin Wehder defeated Sweden’s Dennis Nilsson by the same scoreline.
European Darts Matchplay 2019 Results
Friday September 6
Scott Taylor 6-5 Matthew Edgar
Bradley Brooks 6-4 Mark McGeeney
Ryan Meikle 6-3 Brett Claydon
Dennis Nilsson 3-6 Marvin Wehder
Cody Harris 6-4 Ross Smith
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-5 Krzysztof Kciuk
John Henderson 6-3 Ryan Joyce
Gabriel Clemens 6-2 Steffen Siepmann
Florian Hempel 3-6 Simon Stevenson
Jamie Hughes 6-5 Wesley Plaisier
Keegan Brown 6-3 Simon Whitlock
Maik Kuivenhoven 3-6 Karsten Koch
Robert Thornton 5-6 Kim Huybrechts
Michael Smith 6-3 Steve Lennon
Max Hopp 5-6 William O’Connor
Jeffrey de Zwaan 4-6 Wayne Jones