PDC World Championship - Smith stuns Taylor
REIGNING World Darts Champion Phil Taylor was sensationally knocked out of the tournament in a seven-set thriller by Michael Smith on Friday night, as Raymond van Barneveld and Peter Wright also won through to the third round at Alexandra Palace.
PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion Smith, the world number 32, left the 16-time World Champion stunned with the greatest performance of his fledgling career.
Taylor took out 156 to win the game's opening leg and took the first set without reply in an ominous start - only for Smith to take out 121 on the bull to level by winning the second 3-1.
The 23-year-old also took out 141 as he moved ahead in set three, but Taylor came from 2-0 down to level with back-to-back 13-darters before punishing two missed darts at tops from the youngster by finishing 81 for a 14-dart leg to move 2-1 up.
Smith again showed his bottle by coming from 2-1 down to edge the fourth in a decider to level once more - but missed four darts to win the fifth set as Taylor again held his nerve by finishing double eight to win the decider.
Smith sent the game into a deciding set by taking the sixth without reply, including legs of 14 and 12 darts, and after Taylor took the final set's opener on double six, the St Helens ace followed a 14-darter with two 180s in an 11-dart leg to break.
Taylor hit back to level in the fourth leg to send the match into a tie-break, but Smith broke again with a 13-darter before hitting his sixth 180 of the game in the sixth leg and finished 128 on the bull for a 12-dart leg to complete the greatest triumph of his life.
Smith had been rated at 250/1 to win the title by sponsors Ladbrokes ahead of the game, but is now 28/1 after his stunning win over the reigning champion - which echoed Taylor's second round loss to another St Helens ace, Dave Chisnall, in the 2012 tournament.
"I'm lost for words," admitted Smith. "Nobody expected me to win and I had no pressure on me tonight, but I showed I've got fight in me, I've got tenacity and I proved I can play darts on TV.
"When Phil hit the 156 to win the first leg I thought I was going to get beaten in 12 legs! But he wasn't holding his throw and I had to take my chances, and when I broke him in the second set I believed I could do it.
"I didn't even realise that I'd won the game until I heard the referee call 'Game, Shot' after I hit the bull for the 128 finish. The fourth set, when I missed doubles to go 3-1 up, was still playing on my mind and I didn't think I was throwing for the match!
"I've beaten the best player in the world and my aim now is to put my name on this trophy - and I'm confident I can win this tournament now."
Smith has been sponsored and mentored by former World Championship finalist Gary Anderson, who plays Brendan Dolan in his second round game on Saturday, and said: "Gary's been my hero ever since I started playing and by supporting me he's believed in me - and it would be a dream to play him in the final."
Smith will now play Peter Wright in the third round after Christmas, with the number 16 seed having seen off Denmark's Per Laursen 4-2 as the second round began in thrilling fashion on Friday.
Although Wright took the game's first set 3-1, Laursen - who had defied a nine-darter from Terry Jenkins in the first round - took the next two sets to move 2-1 up in the game.
Wright, though, found another gear to level the contest by winning the fourth set without reply before taking the next two sets 3-1 to seal his last 16 spot - having claimed victory by using a new set of darts similar to those used by Taylor in his bid to be more consistent on the big stage.
"I want to win TV tournaments and do well on TV, and with my other darts I can't do that because they don't fly properly on TV," revealed Wright. "I've had to find a dart which does go, under the pressure, the heat and the atmosphere on stage and they're the ones.
"I've gone from 14 gram darts to 26 gram darts during this week to find the right dart - I've been working hard!
"I knew I had to play well because he did so well against Terry Jenkins, so I was lucky, but I'll have a good Christmas now."
Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld came through another dramatic seven-set contest as he continued his push for a sixth World Championship crown by edging out Jamie Caven.
Caven led 1-0 after taking out 136 to win the first set, and he also held a 3-2 advantage in sets - having missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish during a brilliant contest - only to see the Dutchman produce some darts of the highest class in taking the final two sets 3-0 and 3-1 to prevail.
"I'm really pleased," said van Barneveld, who now plays Mark Webster or John Henderson in the last 16. "I'm so happy that I get to fly back to Holland and still be in the competition at Christmas.
"That 136 he took out in the first set, when I was waiting on a double was fantastic, and what a player he is. When I got 2-1 up and was 2-0 up in the fourth set, I thought I was alright and then he nearly hit a nine-darter!
"He was great throughout the match, he's a world-class player and an amazing guy, so I'm over the moon to have beaten him."
The second round continues on Saturday with a further three matches, as 2012 runner-up Andy Hamilton plays former World Champion Richie Burnett, Robert Thornton faces Australian ace Beau Anderson and Kim Huybrechts takes on Ian White.
World Darts Championship
Friday December 20
Peter Wright 4-2 Per Laursen
Raymond van Barneveld 4-3 Jamie Caven
Phil Taylor 3-4 Michael Smith
Saturday December 21
Andy Hamilton v Richie Burnett
Robert Thornton v Beau Anderson
Kim Huybrechts v Ian White
Best of seven sets, best of five legs per set
PETER WRIGHT 4-2 PER LAURSEN
(3-1, 1-3, 2-3, 3-0, 3-1, 3-1)
PETER WRIGHT came from 2-1 down to defeat Denmark's Per Laursen to become the first player to win through to the last 16 of the 2014 Ladbrokes World Darts Championship.
Wright hit back well from dropping a tight third set as he won nine of the next 11 legs to take the game - averaging over 98 for a second successive game despite playing with a new set of darts.
"I've been practising with these for quite some time, so I felt I comfortable using them for the first time in a competition," said the world number 16.
"I'm a much better player than I was a few years ago, when I reached the third round. I always feel capable of challenging the best and that's what I'm here to do."
Wright took the game's first set with consecutive 104 finishes to make a good start, before the Dane hit back to level, taking the second in excellent fashion thanks to a 128 checkout.
The third set went to a deciding leg and Wright hit scores of a 180 and 177 to raise hopes of recording a third nine-darter in this year's World Championship.
That was not to be after the Scotsman missed his attempt at a second treble 20 of the 144 combination, to leave double 12, before Laursen dramatically stole the leg with a 61 finish to lead 2-1 in sets.
Wright hit back quickly as he won the fourth set with legs of 14 and 13 darts, before winning the fifth set by 3-1 margin.
Wright was now in full flow and he won the sixth set in the same manner, closing out game with a 76 finish in the fourth leg to reach the third round of this competition for the second time.
0-1 - Laursen hits double ten to hold throw after Wright misses a chance on double 16 to break.
1-1 - Wright levels with a 76 finish on double 18.
2-1 - The number 16 seed hits a 104 finish to break the Dane's throw.
3-1 - Wright takes out another 104 finish to seal the first set in brilliant style.
1-0 - Wright hits double ten to win a fourth leg in a row.
1-1 - Laursen registers the first 180 of the game before hitting double six to level.
1-2 - The Dane hits another maximum before winning the leg in 12 darts to break his opponent's throw.
1-3 - Laursen hits a 128 checkout, on the bullseye, to level the contest at one set apiece.
0-1 - Two missed darts at double 16 from Wright are punished as Laursen converts an 84 finish.
1-1 - The Dane hits his third maximum, but three missed darts at doubles to win the leg go begging as Wright steps in on double 16.
1-2 - A strong leg from Wright sees him leave 39 after 12 darts, but two missed doubles allow Laursen take out a 70 finish on double top to move ahead.
2-2 - Wright hits double eight to level, with his opponent waiting on 32 to win the set.
2-3 - Wright posts his first 180 of the game and follows that with a 177 to ignite hopes of a nine-darter. He adds a seventh perfect dart but misses another treble 20 for the 144 finish, and after missing a dart at double 16 to win the set, Laursen finishes 61 to edge ahead in the game in a dramatic leg.
1-0 - Wright takes out a 74 finish to make a positive start to the fourth set.
2-0 - The number 16 seed hits an excellent 14-darter to break Laursen's throw.
3-0 - Wright completes an excellent set of darts as he hits double ten for a 13-dart finish.
1-0 - Wright breaks throw on double 16 to win his fourth leg in a row.
2-0 - An accurate dart at double one gives Wright the leg, after missing four previous double attempts.
2-1 - Wright is just off-target with his attempt at the bullseye for a 122 finish to close out the set, and Laursen takes out 78, on tops, to stop his opponent's dominance.
3-1 - Wright takes out a 62 finish, thanks to an accurate third dart at double eight, to move a set away from victory.
1-0 - Wright posts his second 180 of the game before going on to hit double five.
1-1 - Laursen takes out a 76 finish thanks to an accurate third dart on double four, with Wright waiting on 36.
2-1 - The Dane hits a fourth 180 but Wright is first to finish, only to miss two chances to win the leg - but Laursen is unable to hit tops for a 110 finish in allowing his opponent back to land double to edge closer to a last 16 spot.
3-1 - Wright crosses the winning line thanks to a two-dart 76 finish.
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD 4-3 JAMIE CAVEN
(2-3, 3-2, 3-2, 2-3, 2-3, 3-0, 3-1)
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD edged a thrilling second round contest against Jamie Caven at the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship on Friday evening to book his place in the last 16 at Alexandra Palace.
Van Barneveld had led 2-1 only to lose the next two sets - both in deciding legs - to fall 3-2 behind to the 37-year-old, who missed double 12 for a nine-darter in the fourth set.
However, van Barneveld called upon of all his big stage experience to win six of the next seven legs as he came through in the deciding set.
The first set ended in dramatic fashion as Caven hit a fantastic 136 checkout to draw first blood, after van Barneveld had missed dart at double top for the lead.
Van Barneveld edged the next two sets to lead 2-1 and looked on course to win the fourth set by taking the first two legs before Caven roared back to win the next two legs in levelling.
The deciding leg saw Caven hit scores of 180 and 177 to set up a possible nine-darter, before hitting two treble 20s in the 144 combination - only to miss double 12 for a third perfect leg of the tournament.
Caven recovered to win that leg on double six to level the match, and then won the fifth set in a decider with an excellent 12-darter, having found himself 2-1 down.
However, from that point on van Barneveld found his range and won six of the next seven legs to progress and keep alive his hopes of a sixth World Championship title, ending the game with a 99.65 average - the highest in this year's event so far.
"I'm so relieved to get through this tough battle against Jamie," said van Barneveld, who will face Mark Webster or John Henderson for a place in the last eight.
"I missed one dart to win the set first and Jamie shook me with a brilliant 136 checkout. From then it became a real battle.
"I thought I may have broken Jamie's spirit when I was 2-1 up but he came back again and was flying with the ten-dart-finish, and missing double 12 for the nine-darter!
"It's great to be through and I can go away have a good Christmas and then concentrate on my next game."
0-1 - van Barneveld misses one dart at tops for a 120 finish and Caven takes out a confident 93 checkout for an early lead.
1-1 - The Dutch superstar levels up thanks to an accurate third dart at double top.
1-2 - Caven records a 180 before landing double five for a 15-dart finish.
2-2 - Caven posts another maximum, but van Barneveld is more consistent and wins the leg on double eight.
2-3 - One missed dart at double top from van Barneveld is pounced on by his opponent, who converts a fantastic 136 checkout to edge the first set.
1-0 - The five-time World Champion holds throw on double ten.
2-0 - van Barneveld converts a 101 finish to win the second leg against the darts.
2-1 - Caven hits double 16 to steal the leg after van Barneveld is guilty of wasting six chances to end the set.
2-2 - Caven lands double top to force a deciding leg.
3-2 - van Barneveld fails to land a treble with his first six darts to hand the initiative to Caven, who misses one dart just high of tops as the Dutch star takes out a pressure 74 finish on double eight.
0-1 - Caven hits consecutive 140s to take command of the leg, and the Derby-based thrower wins the leg on double two.
1-1 - van Barneveld defies a 177 from his opponent as he hits double eight.
1-2 - van Barneveld is off-target on double 16 for a 132 checkout - after setting up the double with two bullseyes - before missing three more shots at doubles as Caven capitalises with a two-dart 88 finish.
2-2 - The Dutch superstar recovers from the mistakes of the previous leg to take out 86 in two darts.
3-2 - van Barneveld hits a trio of 140 scores to leave 81, which he takes on double 16 for a clinical 12-dart finish.
1-0 - The 2007 World Champion hits a 180 before taking out a 76 finish in two darts.
2-0 - van Barneveld continues the excellent form of the previous two legs as he leaves 32 after 12 darts, before hitting double 16 to break.
2-1 - Caven responds in brilliant style as he hits a third 180 before landing double 18 at the first attempt for a superb ten-dart finish.
2-2 - Caven hits double 16 with an accurate third dart to force a deciding leg for the fourth set running.
2-3 - Caven starts the fifth leg in great fashion with a 180 and follows that with a 177 to set up the chance of a nine-darter, and in his bid for the 144 finish he hits the treble 20 bed on two more occasions before agonisingly missing double 12 for a perfect leg. Van Barneveld hits a 140 to leave 60 in reply, but Caven holds his nerve to hit double six with a pressure third dart to win the set.
1-0 - van Barneveld opens the set with a brilliant 11-darter, which features his fourth 180.
1-1 - Caven replies with a maximum of his own before hitting double top at the first time of asking.
2-1 - van Barneveld posts back-to-back 180s to continue the high standard before hitting double eight to complete a 15-dart finish.
2-2 - Caven hits double top with an accurate third dart to convert a 56 finish.
2-3 - Caven fires in a brilliant 177 to leave 36, which he takes out on double nine to lead for the first time since the first set.
1-0 - The Dutchman hits double top to record a 115 finish.
2-0 - Caven misses double 16 for a 108 finish and van Barneveld hits the same double to break throw.
3-0 - van Barneveld hits a 93 finish, for a 14-darter, to send the game into a final set.
1-0 - van Barneveld hits double six at the first attempt to break Caven's throw.
2-0 - One missed dart at tops gives Caven hope, but he fails with two chances at double eight and the Dutchman returns to hit double ten and move a leg away from victory.
2-1 - Caven continues to fight and takes out a 78 finish on double top.
3-1 - Consistent scoring from van Barneveld sees him leave 24 after 12 darts, and he hits double six to end a thriller.
MICHAEL SMITH 4-3 PHIL TAYLOR
(0-3, 3-1, 2-3, 3-2, 2-3, 3-0, 4-2)
MICHAEL SMITH stunned Phil Taylor with one of the biggest shocks in Ladbrokes World Championship history, taking a 4-3 victory over the reigning champion after coming through a dramatic final set 4-2 in a tie-break.
The PDC Unicorn Youth World Champion was behind three times in the game, but came back on each occasion to force a deciding set, before crossing the finish line with a fantastic 128 checkout to leave the 16-time World Champion stunned.
"I'm speechless right now and my heart's still pounding!" said the overwhelmed 23-year-old, after recording the biggest win of his career to date.
"Phil was really good in the first set and won it 3-0, but I drew a lot of confidence from taking the second and I sensed an opportunity when I realised Phil wasn't really firing on all cylinders.
"I've shown tonight that I've got the fight for a tough battle and the tenacity to mix it with the biggest stars in the game. Lots of players have beaten Phil in a big televised tournament and gone on to lose next game, so I know the job's not done.
"I want to go on now and prove this win over Phil wasn't a flash in the pan. Tonight's win is a great achievement for me, but I want to win the whole tournament."
Taylor breezed through the first set, which featured a brilliant 156 checkout in the opening leg, before Smith hit back to take the second with an excellent 121 finish, on the bullseye, to draw level.
Smith appeared to have let a big opportunity slip after missing two darts at double top to win the third set, as Taylor took his chance with a two-dart 81 finish to move ahead for a second time.
However, the St Helens star recovered to win the fourth set in a deciding leg - only to miss four chances to win the fifth in a decider, as Taylor posted double eight to edge ahead for a third time.
Again Smith put that disappointment behind as he flashed through the sixth set without reply from his opponent, before following up an 11-darter in a dramatic seventh set by winning the match in a tie-break by taking out a 128 finish on the bullseye to complete an amazing win.
1-0 - Taylor starts in imperious fashion with fantastic 156 checkout.
2-0 - The defending champion hits an excellent 13-darter to continue his good start.
3-0 - Taylor hits a 180 to leave 52, and after Smith misses tops for a 105 finsh, Taylor hits the same bed at the first attempt to round-off a brilliant opening set.
0-1 - Smith breaks his opponent's throw on double four to win his first leg of the game.
0-2 - The winning double proves elusive for both players as Smith misses eight chances only for Taylor to miss seven opportunities, allowing the World Youth Champion to edge home on double one.
1-2 - Taylor misses three shots at double 14 but returns to hit the after Smith is off-target on the bullseye for a 115 finish.
1-3 - The world number one hits his third 180, only for the St Helens youngster to take out an excellent 121 finish on the bullseye to level the match.
0-1 - Smith continues his superb form on the finishing as he records a 141 checkout.
0-2 - The 23-year-old hits double top at the first attempt after Taylor had missed one dart at the same double for a 120 finish.
1-2 - Taylor hits double 16 to win the third leg against the darts.
2-2 - Taylor lands double top at the first attempt to complete a 13-dart finish.
3-2 - Dramatic deciding leg sees Smith miss two darts at double top to move 2-1 up, and Taylor shows his brilliance under pressure as he takes out 81 in two darts.
0-1 - Smith recovers from the disappointment of the previous leg as he hits a 180 followed by an accurate third dart at double five to break throw.
1-1 - Taylor misses two opportunities to win the leg, but Smith is unable to capitalise and the world number one returns to hit double eight.
2-1 - Taylor converts a two-dart 89 finish to hold throw.
2-2 - Smith takes command the leg opening with scores of 177 and 140. However, two missed darts at doubles gives Taylor hope, only a missed dart at bullseye sees Smith return to hit double five.
2-3 - Smith leaves 70 after 12 darts and hits double top to draw level with his illustrious opponent for the second time.
0-1 - Smith moves into the lead as he hits double eight, with his opponent waiting on a two-darter.
1-1 - Taylor misses three darts at doubles but Smith fails to capitalise as he is unable to land double top with one attempt, and the reigning champion returns to hit double nine.
1-2 - Taylor leaves 32 after 12 darts, only for Smith to take out a 67 finish on the bullseye.
2-2 - The top seed takes out a 65 finish to record a 14-darter.
3-2 - A crucial leg sees both players miss a dart for the set before Smith fails with three more attempts double top - and Taylor hits double eight to move back ahead in following potentially pivotal set.
0-1 - The St Helens ace starts the set brightly as hits double nine to break Taylor's throw.
0-2 - Smith hits double eight at the first attempt with his opponent waiting on tops.
0-3 - Smith lands a second maximum of the game to leave 61, which he takes out on double top to send the game into a deciding set.
1-0 - Taylor hits a 180, and though he initially misses two darts at double 12 to break, he is allowed to return on double six to move ahead against the throw.
1-1 - Taylor fails to capitalise on the break of throw as four missed darts at double seven prove expensive in allowing Smith in to hit double 15.
1-2 - Smith hits consecutive 180s, which are sandwiched by one from Taylor, before taking out an 81 finish for a fantastic 11-darter.
2-2 - Taylor holds throw under immense pressure by landing double ten to force a tie-break where a player must win by two clear legs.
2-3 - Smith hits double 18 to move a leg away from a famous win for a second time with an excellent 13-darter.
2-4 - The St Helens ace hits a sixth 180 of the game before taking out an amazing 128 checkout, on the bullseye, to claim the biggest win of his career so far, setting up a third round clash with Peter Wright in the process.