Thornton turns The Power out on Taylor at the World Grand Prix
Robert Thornton knocked reigning champion Phil Taylor out of the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix with a stunning deciding leg victory at the Citywest Hotel on Wednesday night, and was joined in the quarter-finals by Brendan Dolan, Justin Pipe and Mervyn King
Scottish star Thornton repeated June's victory over the Stoke legend in the Speedy Services UK Open final with a sensational performance in Dublin, hitting eight 180s and matching the number one seed blow for blow in a thrilling game.
After seeing Taylor win the first set 3-1, Thornton took the next two to move ahead - winning one with a 101 finish before following a 104 checkout with a 13-darter in the third set's decider.
The defending champion replied strongly to win the fourth set without reply and also led 2-1 in the fifth, only to miss a dart at the bull for the match as Thornton levelled to force a deciding leg, before prevailing in dramatic fashion.
Taylor hit a 177 to be first to a finish, but uncharacteristically missed five darts for the match to allow Thornton in to take out double top to reach the quarter-finals on Friday night.
"It's an outstanding result for me," said Thornton, the reigning UK Open champion and a former World Masters winner. "The win ranks up there with the best of my career because it's a harder format.
"I'm not scared of Phil any more and to beat Phil you've got to take the game to him, you can't sit back and let him dictate it.
"When I went 2-1 up in sets I thought I was in a great position but then I lost my throw in the fourth and it went two-each.
"I never give in until the last dart goes in, but when he hit the 177 in the last leg I just wanted to hit a big score and leave something. It's not like Phil to miss like he did - he usually hits double 16 for fun - but luck was on my side and one dart at tops was all I needed.
"I've been playing well so the result's not a surprise. My finishing is there, my starting doubles are there and my scoring's there, and I'm really happy with my game."
The result ensures that there will be a new name on the trophy on Sunday night, with two former champions, James Wade and Colin Lloyd, having already been eliminated, and Thornton now meets Mervyn King in Friday's quarter-finals.
King defeated Dave Chisnall 3-1 with a fine performance to book his place in the last eight of a major for the first time in almost 12 months.
King won six of the game's first seven legs to establish a two-set lead, firing in four 180s and finishes of 104 and 110 in the process.
Chisnall replied with checkouts of 130 and 116 as he edged the third set and led 2-1 in the next as he took his tally of 180s to seven in the match - but King won the next two legs to secure the win.
"My starting was good, even better than in the first round on Monday," said King. "I did exactly what I set out to do in the first two sets by breaking his throw and then holding my own, but I had a little wobble in the third set which allowed him back in.
"He carried on playing some great darts in the fourth set, but I managed to hold my nerve on a couple of doubles and I'm through.
"It's nice to be playing well again and I'm getting closer to my best game. I've been hitting my best in practice in the last few days, along with a couple of nine-darters.
"Robert has got back to his best during this year and maybe I'll get there this week because it's been a long while since I've been in a major quarter-final."
Northern Ireland's Brendan Dolan, last year's runner-up, continued his love affair with the double-start tournament by knocking out Holland's Vincent van der Voort 3-1 to set up a quarter-final with Justin Pipe.
Dolan won six of the game's first seven legs to win the first two sets before van der Voort won the third 3-2 to keep the match alive.
Dolan, though, finished 82 and 67 to lead 2-0 in the fourth before landing double eight to secure his place in Friday's quarter-finals against either Justin Pipe or Kevin Painter.
"The scoreline may look comfortable, but there's nothing comfortable when you're having to start with a double!" said Dolan, who finished an impressive 69 percent of his finishing doubles in the match.
"The crowds are unreal for me, they're like an extra dart for me and they get my adrenaline flowing when I get up on stage.
"My finishing's superb at the moment and I'm feeling brilliant. There's nothing perfect about my game, but my finishing is the best part of the game at the moment, when it might have been the worst in the past."
Dolan was a semi-finalist last month in the European Championship, and he admitted: "I'm not sure what it is, but I seem to come good at this time of year.
"I feel that I belong in the major events now and I feel comfortable playing against everybody, and playing on TV doesn't daunt me any more."
Pipe, meanwhile, defeated Kevin Painter 3-2 in a tight contest to book his place in only a second major quarter-final, with the win also set to move him into the world's top ten for the first time.
The Taunton ace edged a tight first set 3-2 before Painter took out 88 on the bull to level by winning the second 3-1, only for Pipe to sweep through the third without reply.
Painter took set four 3-1 to level and also led in the decider, but Pipe won the next three legs to secure his spot in the last eight.
"I'm very happy," said Pipe. "It feels better to win that game against Kevin than to win my group the Championship League Darts recently.
"You could see by my celebration at the end how much it meant to me. I'm absolutely over the moon to come out of that the winner and be in my second TV quarter-final - it's going to take me into the world's top ten, which is amazing.
"Brendan's brilliant and he's having an amazing run in the World Grand Prix both last year and this year. He knocked me out of the European Championship last month so I want to get my own back - but it will be very hard on Friday."
The second round concludes on Thursday night with the remaining four matches, headed by World Champion Adrian Lewis' clash with Dutch ace Michael van Gerwen.
Number six seed Wes Newton plays Stoke's emerging Ian White, Andy Hamilton plays Steve Beaton and Colin Osborne meets Paul Nicholson.
PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix
Wednesday October 10
Brendan Dolan 3-1 Vincent van der Voort
Justin Pipe 3-2 Kevin Painter
Phil Taylor 2-3 Robert Thornton
Mervyn King 3-1 Dave Chisnall
Thursday October 11 (7pm)
Andy Hamilton v Steve Beaton
Colin Osborne v Paul Nicholson
Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen
Wes Newton v Ian White
All games the best of five sets, best of five legs per set. All legs must begin and end with a double.
Brendan Dolan v Vincent van der Voort
0-0 - Vincent van der Voort wins the bull and throws first.
1-0 - Dolan makes a brilliant start, hitting a 180 with his second visit to the oche and taking out tops for a 13-darter after the Dutchman had missed double 12 for a 141 finish.
2-0 - van der Voort powers in a 177, but Dolan takes out 106 on double 16 to move two legs up.
3-0 - Dolan finishes 84 on double 12 to wrap up the opening set in style.
1-0 - Dolan finishes 64 to continue his early dominance.
1-1 - van der Voort hits a 180 and lands double 16 to win his first leg of the match.
2-1 - van der Voort leaves 16 but Dolan finishes 81 on the bull to edge ahead.
3-1 - Dolan misses double 12 for a 141 finish, but returns to hit the bed with his third dart to win the set.
0-1 - Double two sees van der Voort win the third set's opener.
0-2 - van der Voort wins a second successive leg, hitting a 180 and double eight to break throw.
1-2 - Dolan posts double 12 to keep the set alive.
2-2 - Dolan finishes 68 on double 16 to level the set.
2-3 - van der Voort misses tops initially, but when Dolan is unable to take out 164 for the match he returns to pin the double with his first dart to pull back a set.
1-0 - Dolan makes a fine start to the fourth set by taking out 82 with a bullseye, double 16 combination.
2-0 - Dolan finishes 67 to move a leg away from the quarter-finals.
3-0 - van der Voort opens with a 160 and a 120, with Dolan missing the bull to take out 121 only for the Dutchman to miss double 12 to take out 96 and allow the Northern Irishman to finish double eight for the triumph - booking his place in the last eight for a second successive year.
Justin Pipe v Kevin Painter
0-0 - Justin Pipe wins the bull and throws first
0-1 - Painter finishes 120 to break throw in the opener.
1-1 - Painter hits a 180 but misses double 18 for a 110 finish, and Pipe steps in to finish double eight with his third dart at the bed.
2-1 - Painter misses two darts at double 18 and three darts at double nine to allow Pipe in to finish double six.
2-2 - Painter finishes double 16 to level the set.
3-2 - The set reaches a dramatic climax, with Painter hitting a 177 to leave 22, before Pipe misses double 16 to finish 70. Painter, though, misses two darts at double 11, and Pipe finishes double two with his third dart to edge the set.
0-1 - Painter takes out double ten to win the second set's opening leg.
1-1 - Pipe levels by finishing double eight.
1-2 - Painter finishes double nine to edge back ahead.
1-3 - Painter hits a 180 to leave 88, and with Pipe waiting on 24 he takes out the finish on the bullseye to win the set.
1-0 - Pipe hits a maximum of his own, but is handed a reprieve for missed doubles when Painter misses two darts at tops to allow him in, with the Taunton ace finishing double one with his third dart.
2-0 - Pipe lands double 16 to move two legs up in the set.
3-0 - Pipe takes the set without reply by taking out double eight at the first time of asking.
0-1 - Painter finishes double 12 to lead in the first leg of set four.
0-2 - Painter posts his third 180 of the game and move two legs up with a break of throw.
1-2 - Painter misses double ten for a 100 finish to take the set, and Pipe completes a 64 combination in two darts on double eight.
1-3 - Painter posts double top at the first time of asking to win the set, sending the game into a decider.
0-1 - Painter edges ahead in a dramatic leg - with Pipe missing double 15 to take out 90 and double six on his return to the oche, as Painter is given a reprieve for a miss at tops as he returns to hit the bed.
1-1 - Double 16 from Pipe sees him level with a 14-darter, turning the game into a best-of-three leg contest.
2-1 - Pipe opens with a 152 score and lands double 16 to take out 72 and move to the brink of victory.
3-1 - Pipe misses the bull to take out 129, but Painter cannot finish 121 and can only watch on as the Taunton ace steps in to finish double four to claim victory.
Phil Taylor v Robert Thornton
0-0 - Phil Taylor wins the bull and throws first
1-0 - Taylor wins the opener in 15 darts to edge ahead.
1-1 - Thornton hits a 180 and takes out 84 to level.
2-1 - Thornton posts another maximum to leave 72, but Taylor pins double 16 at the first time of asking.
3-1 - Taylor breaks throw to win the set.
0-1 - Thornton fires in a 180 and takes out 74 to win the second set's opener.
1-1 - Thornton lands his fourth maximum, but Taylor takes the leg to square the set.
1-2 - Thornton posts another 180, and when Taylor misses double 13 to finish 146 the Scot steps in to land double top.
1-3 - Taylor opens with a 160, but misses double 16 and double eight to allow Thornton to take out 101 on tops to win the set.
0-1 - Thornton powers in a sixth 180, and tops sees him break throw to lead in set three, as he raises his average to over 100.
1-1 - Taylor misses double six for a 92 finish, but when Thornton narrowly misses double ten to finish 140 he returns to hit the bed and level.
1-2 - Thornton opens with a 160 score and takes out 104 on tops to edge back in front.
2-2 - Taylor lands his first 180 of the game and pins double 16 to square the set, setting up a crucial fifth leg.
2-3 - Thornton kicks off with a 160 and scores 140 and 139 to leave 62 after nine darts, and finishes tops for a brilliant 13-darter to hit the front.
1-0 - Thornton misses tops for a 120 finish, and Taylor lands the same double to break throw.
2-0 - Double 16 from Taylor sees him edge away.
3-0 - Taylor squares the game, with Thornton missing seven darts at double top, ten and five to allow the reigning champion back from missing the bull for a 167 and two darts at double eight to land double four for the set.
1-0 - Thornton hits his seventh 180 of the game to leave 41, but Taylor takes out 64 on double 16 to lead in the deciding set of a thriller, with both players averaging over 98 in the double-start format.
1-1 - Tops sees Thornton level the set.
2-1 - Taylor opens with a maximum 160 score, with Thornton firing in an eighth 180 of the contest. Taylor misses double 16, but Thornton sees two darts at tops go begging and the reigning champion returns to hit double 16 and move a leg away from a brilliant win.
2-2 - Thornton misses the bull to take out 95, before Taylor misses the same bed for victory needing 130, and the Scot lands double four to send the game into a deciding leg.
2-3 - Both players get their opening double in their first visit to the oche, before Taylor fires in a 177 to leave 86 after 12 darts, with Thornton only able to leave 140. Taylor hits the treble 18 but misses two darts at double 16 for the match to give Thornton a sniff - but the Scot cannot hit the treble 20 with his first dart. Taylor misses three more match darts, and Thornton hits tops for an amazing win.
Mervyn King v Dave Chisnall
0-0 - Dave Chisnall wins the bull and throws first.
1-0 - King misses three darts to win the opening leg, but Chisnall cannot finish double 18 or nine to allow him back on double two.
2-0 - The pair trade 180s and King finishes double eight to move two legs up.
2-1 - King posts a 180, but Chisnall takes out 25 to hit back with his first leg of the game.
3-1 - King hits a fourth maximum of the game and lands double 16 for the set.
1-0 - Double eight puts King ahead in the second set.
2-0 - King confidently finishes 104 on double 16 to edge away.
3-0 - King wraps up the set in style with a 110 finish, with Chisnall missing nine starting doubles in the leg.
0-1 - Chisnall finishes 130 on the bull to move ahead.
1-1 - Chisnall hits a 180 but misses double 18 to steal the leg after a miss at double 14 from King, who returns to hit double seven with his third dart.
1-2 - Chisnall takes out 116 to move back ahead.
2-2 - Chisnall opens with a 160, but misses double 16 for a 101 finish to allow King to follow a fifth maximum with double 16 to take out 70 and move a leg away from the win.
2-3 - Chisnall saves the match in dramatic fashion, hitting a 180 and finishing 82 on double eight, with King waiting on 36 after firing in a 150 score.
1-0 - Chisnall opens with a 160, but is punished for a miss at tops as King follows a 174 to hit double four.
1-1 - Chisnall lands back-to-back 180s, and although he initially misses three darts for the leg he has enough cushion to return and post double three.
1-2 - The St Helens man fires in a seventh 180, and double two moves him a leg away from the set.
2-2 - King hits 165 to leave 24, and completes the finish to edge to the brink of victory.
3-2 - King misses two darts at double 12 for the match, but Chisnall misses double five to take out 90 to keep the game alive and he returns to post double 12 for the win.