Daryl Gurney confident of chances in World Grand Prix after edging past fourth seed Adrian Lewis in first round

Daryl Gurney booked his place in the second round of the Unibet World Grand Prix with a 2-1 win over fourth seed Adrian Lewis.

The Northern Irishman, who reached the quarter-finals in Dublin twelve months ago, is closing in on the top 10 on the PDC Order of Merit for the first time.

But after seeing off the two-time world champion in a deciding set, the world number 12 could not be blamed for having his eyes on a maiden TV title, and he believes he has the game to win one.

“I knew if I could play my best game I could beat Adrian,” said Gurney. “I try my best in every game and I know I can win a TV tournament – if I switch it on this week then I know I can beat anybody, and so does everyone else.”

Gurney breezed through the opening set against Lewis 3-0, with the help of a 132 checkout, via two bullseyes and double 16, in leg two, before Lewis, a finalist in the World Grand Prix back in 2010, clinched the second set in a deciding leg, taking out 77 to level the match.

Lewis would have no answer for Gurney in the third set though, as the US Darts Masters runner-up reeled off three straight legs to secure his place in the last 16 and a clash with Joe Cullen on Tuesday.

“Joe Cullen firmly believes he’s going to beat me in the next game because he’s got a very good record against me,” Gurney said, “but he hasn’t played me on TV yet, where I’m a better player.”

Match Statistics: Adrian Lewis (87.49), 100+ 17, 140+ 5, 180s 3, Highest checkout 124, 100+ checkouts 1, Checkouts 3/13 (23.08%). Daryl Gurney (90.09), 100+ 13, 140+ 7, 180s 5, Highest checkout 132, 100+ checkouts 1, Checkouts 8/29 (27.59%).

Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

2015 champion Robert Thornton comes from behind to knock out Kim Huybrechts in World Grand Prix opener

Robert Thornton began his unlikely bid for a second Unibet World Grand Prix title in three years with a comeback 2-1 win against Kim Huybrechts in the first round.

The world number 17, who stunned Michael van Gerwen 5-4 in the final in Dublin two years ago as an 80/1 pre-tournament outsider, is only in the field due to 11-time champion Phil Taylor’s decision not to compete in the double-start tournament.

But the Scot is determined to make the most of his reprieve and showed a steely determination to come from a set behind to beat Huybrechts 2-1 in the first round.

The Belgian came into the tournament in good form having reached the final of the HappyBet International Darts Open last weekend, and he raced through the opening set in three straight legs.

However, Thornton fought back after the break, taking the second set 3-1 to level the tie before firing in a 157 checkout to establish a 2-0 lead in the decider.

Huybrechts responded with back-to-back legs to force a deciding leg, but the world number 13 was left waiting on a double as Thornton found tops with his last dart to seal a comeback win.

“I always seem to make it hard for myself in the first round here but I’m delighted to get through,” said Thornton, who has now gone to a deciding set in five of his eight first-round games in the World Grand Prix.

“Kim’s one of the toughest players out there but he missed a few starting doubles and I took my chances.

“I’ve got good memories here and it’s good to be in the second round again.”

Match Statistics: Robert Thornton (78.93), 100+ 14, 140+ 6, 180s 2, Highest checkout 157, 100+ checkouts 1, Checkouts 6/14 (42.86%). Kim Huybrechts (85.82), 100+ 11, 140+ 6, 180s 5, Highest checkout 76, 100+ checkouts 0, Checkouts 6/15 (40.00%).

Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Alan Norris fights back from a set down to beat Justin Pipe in opening game of World Grand Prix in Dublin

Alan Norris fought back from a set down to defeat Justin Pipe 2-1 to reach the last 16 of the Unibet World Grand Prix for a second year running.

The world number 18 has enjoyed runs to the semi-finals of the UK Open and the quarter-finals of the World Matchplay this year, but at one set behind and trailing 2-1 in the second set to Pipe he looked to be heading for an early exit in Dublin.

Pipe, a semi-finalist in the World Grand Prix back in 2013, produced a 170 checkout in the second leg of the match as he went on to claim the opening set 3-1.

A 104 finish on double 12 gave Norris the first leg in the next set, before Pipe picked up the next two legs to go 2-1 up and begin the fourth leg throwing for a place in the second round.

However, on the brink of defeat Norris replied with back-to-back 12 darters, including finishes of 101 and 102, to take the set 3-2 and force a deciding set.

Norris had begun to find his range and after kicking off the last two legs of set two with a 160, the 45-year-old began the first two legs of the deciding set with 160 starts as he moved 2-0 up.

Pipe kept his hopes alive with a 58 checkout to hold throw in the next leg, but an 81 finish on the bullseye moved the Yeovil-born ace into the last 16 of the double-start tournament for the second year running.

Match Statistics: Alan Norris (81.72), 100+ 17, 140+ 9, 180s 0, Highest checkout 104, 100+ checkouts 3, Checkouts 7/18 (38.89%). Justin Pipe (81.53), 100+ 16, 140+ 8, 180s 1, Highest checkout 170, 100+ checkouts 1, Checkouts 6/13 (46.15%).

Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Peter Wright can move up to number two in the world with run to semi-finals in Dublin this week

Peter Wright has the chance to move up to a career-high of number two in the world in Dublin this week.

The world number three begins his Unibet World Grand Prix campaign in the first round against former world champion Stephen Bunting tonight.

Following Gary Anderson’s withdrawal from the tournament yesterday, a run to the semi-finals for Wright this week would see him leapfrog his World Cup partner and into second on the PDC Order of Merit.

Elsewhere, Dave Chisnall’s first-round win against Jelle Klaasen has seen him open up a gap of £8,750 on Mensur Suljovic in sixth spot.

The recent Unibet Champions League of Darts winner is defending £23,500 in prize money this week after reaching the semi-finals in Dublin two years ago, while Chisnall only reached the second round of the 2015 World Grand Prix.

Alan Norris has provisionally moved into the top 16 for the first time following his comeback win over Justin Pipe last night.

The former World Championship finalist battled back from a set down to edge past Pipe in a deciding set, with the victory provisionally moving him above Ian White and into 16th place.

Robert Thornton has began his climb back up the rankings after knocking out Kim Huybrechts in the first round yesterday.

The 2015 World Grand Prix champion is defending £100,000 in prize money this week, and the Scot only got into the tournament this year following Phil Taylor’s decision not to compete.

Thornton, who was 17th in the Order of Merit heading to Dublin, is provisionally down in 24th place, but the Scot can move up another spot were he to defeat Chisnall in the second round tomorrow.

Provisional PDC Order of Merit (Players in green are still in the World Grand Prix) (as of 02/10/2017)

Pos  Player Prize Money
1 Michael van Gerwen £1,632,750
2 Gary Anderson £748,250
3 Peter Wright £738,000
4 Adrian Lewis £403,000
5 Phil Taylor £399,250
6 Dave Chisnall £348,750
7 Mensur Suljovic £340,000
8 Raymond van Barneveld £320,250
9 James Wade £309,250
10 Jelle Klaasen £297,750
11 Michael Smith £294,250
12 Daryl Gurney £287,250
13 Kim Huybrechts £273,500
14 Benito van de Pas £265,250
15 Simon Whitlock £255,250
16 Alan Norris £253,000
17 Ian White £251,000
18 Gerwyn Price £235,250
19 Joe Cullen £210,750
20 Mervyn King £186,000
21 Stephen Bunting £179,500
22 Steve Beaton £172,500
23 Darren Webster £158,750
24 Robert Thornton £158,000

Second seed Gary Anderson withdraws from World Grand Prix and is replaced by Mark Webster

Gary Anderson has withdrawn from the Unibet World Grand Prix to stay at home ahead of the impending birth of his second child with partner Rachel.

The world number two, who lost 5-2 to Michael van Gerwen in last year’s final in Dublin, was due to face debutant Richard North in the first round on Monday evening.

However, it was confirmed shortly before the start of play on Sunday that the second seed had withdrawn, electing to instead remain at his Somerset home.

Under PDC Rule 3.7, the Scot has been replaced by the next non-qualified player from the PDC Order of Merit, from which Anderson had qualified, meaning Webster takes his place in the draw bracket.

The world number 24 reached the semi-finals of the World Grand Prix on his most recent appearance in the double-start event two years ago, and also made a run to the quarter-finals on his debut back in 2011.

VIDEO: Unibet unveil hidden camera prank with top stars to launch three-year sponsorship of the Premier League

Online gambling operator Unibet has agreed a three-year deal with the PDC to become the new title sponsor of the Premier League from 2018.

Taking over from previous sponsors Betway, who held the sponsorship for four years from 2014 to 2017, Unibet, one of the largest gambling brands across Europe and Australia, will be the title sponsor from next year.

To mark the start of the partnership that runs through to 2020, the bookmaker worked in secret with PDC chairman Barry Hearn to surprise some of the biggest names in the sport in a hidden camera style video.

Taking a wry look at the lengths some brands go to get their name up in lights, the video features an actor posing as a Unibet marketing executive alongside Hearn.

The duo then set out to convince reigning Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen and world number three Peter Wright to take on various outlandish and ridiculous brand initiatives, from Unibet logo head tattoos to brand-themed dances, nothing is left on the table.

The Unibet Premier League will be the 13th sponsored darts event by the company since its initial partnership of the Unibet Masters back in 2014.

Since then Unibet has become the partner of the European Championship, World Grand Prix, Champions League of Darts as well as the World Series of Darts Finals and Melbourne Darts Masters.

PDC chairman Hearn said: “We’re delighted that Unibet have furthered their association with us in their sponsorship of the Premier League for the next three years.

“The Unibet Premier League will be bigger than ever in 2018, with our success in the UK, Ireland and more recently in the Netherlands leading to the introduction of a league night in Berlin next year, and it promises to be a special tournament.

“The Premier League’s growth since 2005 has been a phenomenon in British sport and it’s another boost that Unibet were so keen to add this prestigious event to their growing darts sponsorship portfolio.”

James Wade keeps hopes of qualifying for European Championship alive by securing place in final European Tour event

James Wade kept his chances of qualifying for the Unibet European Championship alive after booking his place in the HappyBet European Darts Trophy – the last event on this year’s European Tour – last night.

The world number 10 has played in all nine European Championships to be held so far, but heading into last night’s UK Qualifier for the 12th European Tour event he found himself outside of the top 32 qualifying places.

But Wade, a guest on this week’s Weekly Dartscast podcast, squeezed through two deciding legs to secure his spot in Gottingen, as he headlined a list of 18 qualifiers at the end of play in Dublin.

Wade battled past Wayne Jones, this year’s Unicorn Challenge Tour Order of Merit winner, with a 6-5 victory in his opener, and then edged out South Africa’s Devon Petersen by the same scoreline in the final round.

Former European Championship winner Adrian Lewis, who missed the event last year, will also miss out on playing in Hasselt for a second year running after losing in the UK Qualifier last night.

The world number five, who beat Simon Whitlock 11-6 in the 2013 final, lost 6-2 to Chris Quantock in the first round which means he can no longer qualify for the European Championship, joining fellow former world champions Gary Anderson, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld in being out of the field in Hasselt.

HappyBet European Darts Trophy UK Qualifier
Preliminary Round
Warrick Scheffer 6-4 Darren Johnson
Terry Temple 6-4 Aden Kirk
Richie Burnett 6-2 Tony Newell
Peter Jacques 6-4 Harry Robinson
Paul Nicholson 6-2 Robert Owen
Lee Bryant 6-2 Richie Corner
Craig Gilchrist 6-4 Brendan Dolan
John Norman Jnr 6-2 Wes Newton

First Round
Steve Beaton 6-1 Ryan Meikle
Andy Boulton 6-3 Dean Forde
Keegan Brown 6-4 Kyle Anderson
William O’Connor 6-5 Jamie Bain
Darren Webster 6-2 Andy Hamilton
Mick Todd 6-4 Brian Woods
Stephen Bunting 6-3 Peter Hudson
Callum Loose 6-2 Joe Murnan
Luke Woodhouse 6-4 John Henderson
Jonathan Worsley 6-5 Ross Twell
James Wade 6-5 Wayne Jones
Devon Petersen 6-4 Callan Rydz
Chris Quantock 6-2 Adrian Lewis
Mick McGowan 6-3 Steve Hine
Steve West 6-0 David Pallett
Diogo Portela 6-2 Jim Walker
Justin Pipe 6-4 Matthew Dennant
Jamie Caven 6-2 Mickey Mansell
Robert Thornton 6-2 Stephen Burton
Ryan Searle 6-2 John Part
Richard North 6-0 Ritchie Edhouse
Ricky Evans 6-4 Darren Johnson
Chris Dobey 6-3 Paul Harvey
Terry Temple 6-4 Ted Evetts
James Wilson 6-1 Kirk Shepherd
Richie Burnett 6-3 Mark Walsh
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Scott Taylor
Peter Jacques 6-3 Matt Clark
John Bowles 6-3 Mark Webster
Andrew Gilding 6-5 Paul Nicholson
Kevin Painter 6-5 Ryan Palmer
Steve Lennon 6-1 Lee Bryant
James Richardson 6-2 Simon Stevenson
Josh Payne 6-3 Craig Gilchrist
Jamie Lewis 6-2 Andy Jenkins
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 John Norman Jnr

Final Round
Andy Boulton 6-4 Steve Beaton
Keegan Brown 6-3 William O’Connor
Mick Todd 6-5 Darren Webster
Stephen Bunting 6-1 Callum Loose
Jonathan Worlsey 6-3 Luke Woodhouse
James Wade 6-5 Devon Petersen
Chris Quantock 6-2 Mick McGowan
Steve West 6-4 Diogo Portela
Jamie Caven 6-4 Justin Pipe
Robert Thornton 6-2 Ryan Searle
Ricky Evans 6-4 Richard North
Chris Dobey 6-1 Terry Temple
James Wilson 6-1 Richie Burnett
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Peter Jacques
John Bowles 6-4 Andrew Gilding
Kevin Painter 6-4 Steve Lennon
James Richardson 6-4 Josh Payne
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Jamie Lewis

Peter Wright says he’s ‘joined the elite’ after winning his tenth tournament of the season

Peter Wright claims he has ‘joined the elite’ after becoming only the fourth player in history to win ten PDC tournaments in a season at the weekend.

The world number three pipped Kim Huybrechts 6-5 in the final of the HappyBet International Darts Open, in Riesa on Sunday, to reach double figures for tournament wins in 2017.

Wright follows in the footsteps of Phil Taylor, John Part and Michael van Gerwen to have reached the significant milestone, with his trophy haul this season including the UK Open, his maiden televised title, five European Tour titles and four floor titles.

“I’ve joined the elite,” Wright said after beating Huybrechts. “I’m only the fourth player to actually win 10 tournaments in a year.

“Obviously there’s Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and John Part, and now me!”

What a difference a week can make. The previous Sunday, Wright was seen jokingly throwing his darts to the floor of the Motorpoint Arena stage after losing 10-9 to world number two Gary Anderson in the Unibet Champions League of Darts – a defeat compounded by Wright missing eight match darts to knock out his fellow Scot in what was effectively a quarter-final.

“Obviously I’ve been struggling in the last three months,” the 47-year-old said, before going on to heap praise on Huybrechts, who had enjoyed a run to his first final in over a year.

“Kim Huybrechts is coming back to form, watch out for him in the next couple of weeks. Watch out for him in the Grand Prix in Ireland, he’s going to be dangerous.”

Picture: PDC Europe

William Hill World Darts Championship qualifying update: Diogo Portela becomes sixth player to book spot at Ally Pally

Brazil’s Diogo Portela is the sixth player to have qualified for the 2018 William Hill World Darts Championship.

Portela won the South & Central American Qualifier in Palmas, Brazil on Saturday to earn himself a debut at the Alexandra Palace at the end of the year.

The UK-based Brazilian joins America’s Willard Bruguier, New Zealand’s Cody Harris, Australia’s Gordon Mathers, Finland’s Kim Viljanen and Japan’s Seigo Asada as the six players to qualify so far as international qualifiers.

The 72-player field for the Alexandra Palace event will be made up of the top 32 players on the PDC Order of Merit, the next top 16 players on the Pro Tour Order of Merit and 24 players from international qualifiers and the PDPA Qualifier.

2018 William Hill World Darts Championship (Qualified players so far)
Willard Bruguier (North American Darts Championship winner)
Cody Harris (DartsPlayers New Zealand Qualifier)
Gordon Mathers (DPA Pro Tour #1)
Kim Viljanen (PDCNB Order of Merit #1)
Seigo Asada (PDJ Qualifier)
Diogo Portela (South & Central American Qualifier)

Brazil’s Diogo Portela secures World Championship debut after winning South & Central American Qualifier

Diogo Portela will make his debut in the William Hill World Darts Championship at the end of the year after winning the South & Central American Qualifier in Brazil on Saturday.

The UK-based Brazilian, who features in the latest issue of the Love The Darts magazine, defeated his World Cup partner Alexandra Sattin 6-1 in the final to book his place at the Alexandra Palace in December.

The field included players from Argentina, Chile, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana, but it was the Brazilian duo who made it through to the final in Palmas at the weekend.

Portela dropped just four legs in the entire tournament, following up whitewash wins over Roberto Wenz and Lallchand Rambharose with a 6-3 victory against former World Championship qualifier Sudesh Fitzgerald in the semi-finals.

Sattin’s route to the final began with a 6-1 win over Fabio Porto in the first round, before the Brazilian got past Luis Miguel (6-4) and Bruno Holfman 6-2 and then Troy Bhujhawan in the last four.