Luke Woodhouse enjoyed a dream TV debut as he dethroned defending champion Daryl Gurney at the Players Championship Finals in Minehead on Friday, while James Wilson inflicted an early exit on Peter Wright.
Woodhouse, 31, pulled off the biggest win of his career so far as he came from 3-1 and 5-3 down to see off Gurney – who missed two match darts in leg nine before watching his opponent take out 71 in the decider.
A two-time UK Open qualifier, Woodhouse was appearing in front of the TV cameras for the first time but was left celebrating a breakthrough moment against the world number six.
“I’m lost for words – I’m so happy,” said Woodhouse, ranked 71st on the PDC Order of Merit. “It’s massive for me. It was daunting and it took me a couple of legs to get into the game.
“I just wanted to stick in there with him and hope that if he missed a few doubles I could take my chance, and that’s what happened. He didn’t play as well as he usually does and I took advantage of that.
“I don’t fear anybody and on my day, if I click, I really think I can beat anybody. It’s amazing to win my first game on TV – it was almost an out-of-body experience!”
Woodhouse’s win means that he now faces Gabriel Clemens in round two on Saturday afternoon, after the German thrower saw off Mark McGeeney 6-4.
World number seven Wright, meanwhile, also paid for missing match darts as he let a 5-3 lead slip against James Wilson before the Huddersfield ace took the deciding leg.
Wilson will now meet Chris Dobey, who landed a 164 checkout in a comfortable 6-1 win over Spain’s Cristo Reyes.
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld began his penultimate tournament before retirement with a superb 99 average as he overcame UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall 6-2.
“My form is there and I can do better than this but I feel confident,” said the veteran Dutchman. “Nathan has had a great year so I was warned and he’s a phenomenal player but I play the board.
“There’s no pressure on me and every single round is a bonus, so I just want to play as well as I can. I’m practising well and I believe in myself and everyone knows that if I play my game I can beat anyone in the world.”
Van Barneveld now meets Joe Cullen, who swept past Australia’s Kyle Anderson with a 6-2 victory which was sealed with a 121 checkout.
Michael van Gerwen landed a 170 checkout but had to overcome a scare from Luke Humphries before taking a 6-3 win to open his challenge for a fifth Players Championship Finals title.
Van Gerwen took out the maximum finish on his way to a 4-0 lead, only for Humphries to hit back to 4-3 – but the World Youth Championship finalist crucially missed two darts to level.
The World Champion capitalised to move 5-3 up before sealing victory with a 95 finish which featured two double 19s, ending the game with an average just above 100.
“It wasn’t my best performance but i had some nice finishes in there and a win is a win,” said Van Gerwen. “I did some good things early on but I wasn’t 100 percent focused, so I have to concentrate on myself and play better in the next game.”
Van Gerwen now resumes his rivalry with Adrian Lewis, who came from 6-4 down to win 6-4 against Josh Payne in their first round tie.
Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price – the number one seed for this event – averaged 102 in a strong showing as he defeated Mickey Mansell 6-3, and he now plays Keegan Brown, after the former World Youth Champion saw off Andy Boulton by the same scoreline.
World number two Rob Cross dropped just two legs as he defeated Ron Meulenkamp to set up a second round tie with Jamie Hughes, who was a 6-3 winner against another Dutchman, Jermaine Wattimena.
Second seed James Wade defied two ton-plus finishes from Ted Evetts before taking out 104 to seal a 6-4 win over the youngster, and the left-hander now plays Ricky Evans after the Kettering ace’s narrow 6-5 defeat of Steve Beaton.
World Championship finalist Michael Smith enjoyed a 6-1 win over Martin Schindler and now plays Brendan Dolan, who won by the same scoreline against Ross Smith in their first round tie.
Simon Whitlock produced a rousing comeback from 3-0 down to defeat Dutch prospect Jeffrey de Zwaan, who made a sensational start to their first round contest.
However, Whitlock finished 88 and 148 in successive legs to begin his fightback, before edging to a 6-5 win in a deciding leg.
Whitlock’s second round opponent, John Henderson, was another narrow winner as he survived missed match darts from Ryan Joyce, who was unable to convert three chances for victory in the deciding leg of their clash.
Mensur Suljovic came from 5-3 down to deny Kim Huybrechts in a decider, and the Austrian now plays Dutchman Danny Noppert, who won four straight legs from 5-2 down against Ryan Searle before taking victory.
Suffolk left-hander Ryan Meikle enjoyed the biggest win of his young career by whitewashing Jonny Clayton, the 2017 Players Championship Finals runner-up, in an impressive victory.
The four-time Development Tour event winner’s second round opponent will be Darius Labanauskas, with the Lithuanian having edged out Harry Ward 6-5 in their opener.
Dave Chisnall hit back from 2-1 down to reel off five straight legs in his 6-2 win over Matthew Edgar and he now plays Mervyn King, who averaged 100 in his narrow 6-5 success over Justin Pipe.
Portugal’s Jose De Sousa, a two-time Players Championship event winner in 2019, enjoyed a winning debut by defeating James Richardson 6-3, and he now plays Stephen Bunting after the St Helens ace’s 6-2 win over Dimitri Van den Bergh.
Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant overcame Scott Baker 6-2 to set up a tie with Max Hopp, who defied a 170 finish from Jelle Klaasen in a 6-3 victory.
Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski punished Steve Lennon for 16 missed doubles in a 6-1 win which sets up a tie with another Irish ace, William O’Connor, after the World Cup finalist defeated Steve West 6-4.
Ian White was a 6-4 winner against South Africa’s Devon Petersen and now plays Dutchman Vincent van der Voort, who won by the same margin against former World Youth Champion Arron Monk.
Players Championship Finals 2019 Results
Friday November 22
Dimitri Van den Bergh 2-6 Stephen Bunting
Jose de Sousa 6-3 James Richardson
Glen Durrant 6-2 Scott Baker
Max Hopp 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Chris Dobey 6-1 Cristo Reyes
Jeffrey de Zwaan 5-6 Simon Whitlock
Michael Smith 6-1 Martin Schindler
Ian White 6-4 Devon Petersen
Harry Ward 5-6 Darius Labanauskas
Justin Pipe 5-6 Mervyn King
Brendan Dolan 6-1 Ross Smith
John Henderson 6-5 Ryan Joyce
Keegan Brown 6-3 Andy Boulton
Steve Beaton 5-6 Ricky Evans
Danny Noppert 6-5 Ryan Searle
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Matthew Edgar
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-1 Steve Lennon
Gerwyn Price 6-3 Mickey Mansell
James Wade 6-4 Ted Evetts
Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Kim Huybrechts
Daryl Gurney 5-6 Luke Woodhouse
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Luke Humphries
Peter Wright 5-6 James Wilson
Nathan Aspinall 2-6 Raymond van Barneveld
Jonny Clayton 0-6 Ryan Meikle
Joe Cullen 6-2 Kyle Anderson
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Arron Monk
Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Mark McGeeney
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Josh Payne
William O’Connor 6-4 Steve West
Jermaine Wattimena 3-6 Jamie Hughes
Ron Meulenkamp 2-6 Rob Cross