Krzysztof Ratajski marked his World Series Finals debut with a thrilling 6-5 victory over Nathan Aspinall in Amsterdam on Friday, as Gerwyn Price made it successive wins over Michael Smith in the space of a week.
Ratajski, the world number 20 who came through the Tour Card holder’s qualifier to seal his place in the event, produced the stand-out performance of the opening night at the AFAS Live as he edged out the UK Open champion in a high quality contest.
The Polish ace remained either ahead or level for the entire contest, and with Aspinall waiting on double 18 in the deciding leg, Ratajski coolly finished 70 to get over the line with an average of 104 to his opponent’s 103.
“I knew that Nathan is a class player and I knew I must play my best if I wanted to win,” Ratajski told Live Darts.
“In the last leg Nathan threw a 180 and I knew I must throw a 180 or a 177 to level this leg and I threw it  and I’m really happy with this.
“If I can play my best game, of course I’m able to win this tournament.”
Grand Slam champion Price, last weekend’s European Championship runner-up, inflicted further pain on Smith with a 6-3 success to set up a Second Round show-down with Michael van Gerwen on Saturday.
Price defeated ‘Bully Boy’ in the Semi-Finals in Gottingen and turned on the style again with a 101.8 average and six doubles from nine attempts in an assured display.
The pair were locked level after six legs, but only for Price to reel off the final three to get over the line, having produced a high checkout of 142 earlier in the contest.
“Michael [Smith] used to be a bit of a bogey player for me but I do like playing him,” said Price.
“After last week I’ve just decided to go out and try and enjoy myself and I’ll be doing that against MVG tomorrow.
“It’s not the end of the world if I lose and I’ve had some great games against him and I’m going to give my all tomorrow night.”
Ian White held his nerve to take out 77 in the deciding leg and deny Ricky Evans a place in the Last 16.
White raced into a 3-0 lead before Evans pegged back to parity, and after hitting a 171 to leave double 12 in the decider, ‘Rapid’ was left to ponder what could have been as he watched the Stoke ace deny him an attempt at the finish.
Jermaine Wattimena set up a Second Round glamour tie with departing legend Raymond van Barneveld on Saturday after a 6-4 win over Germany’s Gabriel Clemens with a 96 average and six doubles from seven attempts.
Former Lakeside finalist Danny Noppert marked his debut in this invitational event with a 6-3 win over Dutch compatriot Jeffrey de Zwaan despite 16 missed darts at doubles as he moved through to face Gary Anderson.
World Grand Prix finalist Dave Chisnall maintained his strong run of form by knocking out Simon Whitlock 6-4 with a 96.4 average and a high checkout of 128 along the way.
Mensur Suljovic coasted into the Last 16 with a 6-1 rout of a below-par Kyle Anderson – who averaged just 83 and later admitted his is suffering from diabetes.
Jonny Clayton came from 3-1 down to deny former World Championship semi-finalist Wayne Jones 6-4 despite four 180s from the Wolverhampton qualifier.
World Series Finals 2019 Results
Friday November 1
Wayne Jones 4-6 Jonny Clayton
Ricky Evans 5-6 Ian White
Kyle Anderson 1-6 Mensur Suljovic
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Nathan Aspinall
Michael Smith 3-6 Gerwyn Price
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Simon Whitlock
Danny Noppert 6-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Jermaine Wattimena 6-4 Gabriel Clemens