Steve West enjoyed a memorable World Matchplay debut as he knocked out 11th seed Michael Smith 10-5 in the opening game of the tournament tonight.
The world number 39 averaged 99.94 and hit five 180s as he caused an upset in round one at the Winter Gardens, in Blackpool.
A high-quality contest began with West holding throw on double nine in the first leg, before Smith reeled off three straight legs, all in 15 darts each, with checkouts of 68, 76 and 80 to lead 3-1.
West responded with what proved to be a crucial 121 finish on the bullseye in leg five to close the gap to 3-2, and the Blackpool debutant went into the first break averaging close to 110.
The bullseye finish sparked a winning run for West after the restart, with the 42-year-old whitewashing his younger opponent by winning all five legs in the second session.
West needed just 69 darts as he produced a clean sweep, which included two 11 darters and a 104 finish, to open up a commanding 7-3 lead, and it was an advantage which he would press home to the finishing line.
A third 11-dart finish after the second break stretched West’s lead to 8-3 and made it seven legs in a row for the Essex thrower.
Smith continued to search for a way back into the match, claiming two of the next three legs in 12 and 14 darts, but the former world youth champion spurned a chance to cut the deficit in the 15th leg, leaving West to land double 10 to seal victory on his Winter Gardens debut.
“I’m very, very happy with that and it’s a brilliant win,” said West, who is the second lowest ranked player in this year’s World Matchplay.
“After four legs I must admit that I was a bit worried, but the 121 gave me a lot of confidence.
“it’s a pretty big win but I’ve struggled a bit for the last three months, I know I’m good enough and I’ve never doubted my ability but I wasn’t getting the results.
“Tonight the darts went for me, and this is going to fill me with confidence.”
Smith (95.45): 100+ 18, 140+ 6; 180s 4, Highest checkout 80, Checkout percentage 5/11 45.45% West (99.94): 100+ 21, 140+ 12, 180s 5, Highest checkout 121, Checkout percentage 10/23 43.48%