Jeffrey de Zwaan set down a marker with a blistering display to defeat Dave Chisnall in a seven set thriller in Round Three of the World Championship, while Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis pulled off comeback wins.
The highest-quality performance of the 2019/20 William Hill World Championship so far saw Dutch ace Zwaan average 106.09 and hit 53% of his double attempts to reach the Last 16 at Alexandra Palace for the first time.
The pre-Christmas action concluded with six Third Round ties, with De Zwaan sending home the world number ten and establishing himself as a live contender for the title.
“It felt amazing to play like that and to beat a great player in Dave Chisnall,” said De Zwaan.
“I wasn’t actually playing that well in practice but the confidence was there on stage and that’s what you must have to beat a player like Dave.
“I know if I play like that all the time I can be World Champion, but I don’t want to think about that yet.
“Darts is all in the moment so you can’t expect to average 106 in every game so we’ll see what happens.”
A match which featured seventeen 180s saw the opening four sets shared before De Zwaan fired in back-to-back 12-dart legs in the fifth to move 3-2 in front.
The pair continued to trade blows as two-time World Championship quarter-finalist Chisnall replied in kind with two 12-dart legs on his way to levelling it back up at 3-3 in sets.
De Zwaan put his foot on the gas in the deciding leg, not allowing Chisnall a dart at double with legs of 14, 10 and 15 darts sealing one of his finest victories.
The 23-year-old will now meet Peter Wright in the Last 16 after the 2014 World Championship runner-up saw off Japan’s Seigo Asada 4-2.
Despite winning the opening set, Wright changed his equipment mid-way through the second set but the swap failed to stop Asada levelling the contest.
Wright claimed six of the next nine legs to regain control of the tie, only for Asada to land finishes of 103 and 96 on his way to winning the fifth set to make it 3-2.
Scottish number two Wright found a strong finish to the match with a pair of 15-dart legs, winning it with an 84 checkout.
Wright’s World Cup winning partner Anderson recovered from 3-1 down to defeat Ryan Searle 4-3 and maintain his bid for a hat-trick of World Championship crowns.
Searle, who was looking to reach the last 16 for the second successive year, missed three darts to take the opening set but put that disappointment behind him to take the next three sets for the concession of just three legs.
Following the interval, Anderson was a man on a mission as he won six of the next seven legs to take the match to a deciding set.
With Searle still reeling from the Scotsman’s assault, Anderson took full advantage, winning another three legs without reply to secure his passage into round four.
“When I was 3-1 down I had nothing to lose because Ryan was playing brilliantly so I just went up there and did my thing,” said Anderson, who will meet Nathan Aspinall in the last 16.
“Obviously I’m relieved to win and I can look forward to spending time with family over Christmas and then I can come back ready to go again.
“I wasn’t playing well. Ryan was the better player but I managed to find some form and I’m very happy that I did.”
Fellow two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis made it through to the Last 16 for the ninth time in ten World Championships after edging out Darren Webster in one of the most unpredictable games of the tournament.
For the second match in a row, Lewis got off to a slow start and found himself two sets down to a rampant Webster who saved one of his best performances of the year for the big stage.
However, Webster missed three darts at double 12 in the deciding leg of set three, before Lewis followed up a 180 with double 14 to halve the deficit.
The fourth set also went to a deciding leg and once again Webster missed set darts, this time two at double top and double ten as Lewis took out 46 in two darts to level.
Webster regained his composure to win the next set and take a 3-2 lead, before a high-quality set six saw Webster miss a dart at double 12 for a nine-dart finish, only for Lewis to edge it 3-2 to take the tie to a seventh set decider.
With nothing to separate the pair after four legs, the match went to a tie-break, and after Lewis broke throw with a 13-dart leg, he finished the job with a clinical 78 checkout in the next to finally end the epic contest.
“I just did exactly the same as I did in the first round, I got off to a slow start which is what I was trying to avoid,” said Lewis.
“I think the slow starts are just down to the pressure of playing in this environment, it’s the biggest stage in the sport.
“Every time I started to play well he followed me, and when I dropped off he did the same.
“Full credit to Darren, I thought he was awesome. That was one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in.
“I’m fighting as best I can do and we’ll see where it takes me.”
Lewis will now face Belgium’s number one Dimitri Van den Bergh, who moved one win away from a second Quarter-Final appearance in three years after battling his way to a 4-2 win over Luke Woodhouse.
Two-time World Youth Champion Van den Bergh started quickest as he landed a 128 checkout, the first of six ton-plus finishes in the match, on his way to a 2-0 lead in sets.
An under-the-weather Woodhouse fought back, winning two of the next three sets to make it 3-2, but after taking a 2-0 lead in the next set he missed two set darts at double 16, allowing Van den Bergh to land an 86 finish to win it.
Reigning World Youth Champion Luke Humphries continued his bid for back-to-back quarter-final appearances with a hard-fought victory over emerging German talent Nico Kurz.
The first four sets were shared before Humphries pinned double one to clinch the pivotal fifth set after surprise package Kurz had missed a dart at tops to take it.
Kurz, the last German player in the tournament, landed a 131 checkout to stay alive after losing the first two legs in set six, but his hopes were short-lived as Humphries fired in a 13-darter to set up a fifth round meeting with Kim Huybrechts.
The William Hill World Championship continues on Friday December 27 following a three-day Christmas break, with two sessions of third and fourth round action from Alexandra Palace.
Monday December 23
Nico Kurz 2-4 Luke Humphries
Adrian Lewis 4-3 Darren Webster
Luke Woodhouse 2-4 Dimitri van den Bergh
Dave Chisnall 3-4 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Gary Anderson 4-3 Ryan Searle
Peter Wright 4-2 Seigo Asada