European Darts Trophy - First Round Round-Up
Barney pips Mensell at the post in European Darts Trophy.
RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD narrowly escaped a gritty fightback from Michael Mansell before edging through to the second round of the European Darts Trophy on Friday, but James Wade and Stephen Bunting were knocked out of the European Tour event in Leipzig.
Dutch star van Barneveld had to win through Thursday's qualifiers at the Kohlrabizirkus just to qualify for the event, and after being taken all the way to a deciding 11th leg by Poland's Krzystof Chmielewski, he suffered the same fate in the main event's first round.
He had seemed on course to cruise into the last 32 when he won the opening four legs without reply, and he also led 5-1 before Mansell mounted a comeback.
The Northern Irish left-hander took four successive legs - including an 11-darter in one leg and two other legs where he punished missed match darts from the Dutchman - as he pulled back to take the game into a decider.
However, van Barneveld regained his composure at the crucial moment as he finished double six to claim a hard-fought victory.
"I'm happy to be through," admitted a relieved van Barneveld. "At 5-1 up I may have been lucky in a couple of legs because Mickey missed a couple of doubles, but the game still depended on the last leg.
"I missed so many doubles in the second half of the game so I know I can do a lot better, but I'm still in."
Van Barneveld now plays Ian White in Saturday's second round, with that game having even greater significance with the pair battling to stay inside the world's top 16.
World number seven James Wade, June's Gibraltar Darts Trophy winner, was the biggest name casualty on the opening day of the year's final £100,000 PDC European Tour event.
The left-hander was defeated 6-4 by Andy Smith, who took a 3-0 lead and also finished 120 as he secured his place in the second round against Northern Irish ace Brendan Dolan.
Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting also exited in the first round as he went down 6-3 to Ross Smith, who took the game's opening four legs and finished six doubles from eight attempts in a clinical display to set up a second round clash with World Champion Michael van Gerwen.
Kevin Painter edged out James Hubbard 6-5 in another thriller, as the 2012 World Youth Champion missed match darts in the game's final two legs to allow the former Players Championship Finals winner to come back from 5-3 down and progress to a meeting with Wes Newton.
Ireland's William O'Connor defied seven 180s from Austrian number one Mensur Suljovic as he took a 6-4 win from their clash in what proved to be the days highest-quality game, with both players averaging over 104.
Andrew Gilding also averaged 104 as he enjoyed a 6-2 win over youngster Dimitri Van den Bergh, and he now progresses to meet another Belgian in the second round, Kim Huybrechts.
Huybrechts' older brother Ronny will also be in action in Saturday's second round after he edged past Richie Burnett 6-5 in a thriller to set up a clash with Andy Hamilton.
Burnett hit back from 3-0 down to lead 4-3, but paid for missed doubles in the eighth leg as Huybrechts levelled and then moved 5-4 up - and though the Welshman forced a deciding leg with a 13-darter, the Belgian hit double 16 to claim the win.
Germany's Jyhan Artut was one of two Host Nation Qualifiers to progress to the last 32, as he hit six 180s in a 6-2 win over Dutch youngster Dirk van Duijvenbode to set up a tasty game with in-form Michael Smith.
Michael Hurtz joined Artut in the second round with a thrilling 6-4 win over experienced Ronnie Baxter, taking out 106 and 109 during the game as he moves through to play Peter Wright.
Teenager Max Hopp saw Ryan De Vreede come from 3-0 down to win 6-5 as he progressed to face fellow Dutchman Vincent van der Voort - June's Austrian Darts Open winner - in the second round.
Welshman Gerwyn Price - a semi-professional rugby union player in his first year on the PDC circuit - sealed a 6-3 win over Germany's Bernd Roith with a 131 finish to set up a contest with Steve Beaton.
Steve West picked up a 6-1 win over Michael Rosenauer as he moves through to play world number four Simon Whitlock, while Austrian debutant Roxy-James Rodriguez enjoyed a 6-2 win over Tomas Seyler as he progresses to face Dave Chisnall.
Canada's emerging star Shaun Narain reached the last 32 of a second successive European Tour event with a narrow 6-5 win over Holland's Christian Kist, meaning that he now plays eight-time major finalist Terry Jenkins.
Kist's fellow former Lakeside Champion Jelle Klaasen, though, came through an 11-leg thriller against Ricky Evans as he moved through to play Mervyn King, who won the European Darts Grand Prix in Sindelfingen a fortnight ago.
Dean Winstanley's battling 6-4 win over Gino Vos - who led 4-3 only to see the Englishman finish with three successive legs - sets him up for a clash with Jamie Caven.
The tournament's second round is split across two sessions on Saturday, before the event concludes on Sunday with the third round in the afternoon session and the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in the evening.