Raymond Van Barneveld put in a top class performance on his Ally Pally return, as the five-time World Champion eased past Lourence Ilagan with a 3-0 win. Having announced his retirement after a dismal 3-1 defeat to Darin Young in the first round last year, Barney returned with a smile on his face - and the crowd loved every single moment of it.
‘Barney Army!’ was the chant that erupted following his win, with the packed out crowd clearly delighted to see one of their heroes return to this famous venue. RVB was not quite at his clinical best when it came to his finishing, but he was far too strong for Young, registering a 96.7 average, and has now set up a mouthwatering round two clash with the 2018 world champion, Rob Cross.
That win is sure to be the tie of the round but the Dutchman will take some confidence from this result, as well as the fact that he won Players Championship 3 in Bolton in February, his first individual PDC title since the 2014 Premier League. Against Young, he looked a completely different player than the one that lost at this stage last year, and in the third set he wiped the floor with his opponent, ending with a 121 finish.
Meanwhile James Wade was made to work for his second round win over Maik Kuivenhoven, after racing into a two-set lead. The current world number four, and three time semi-finalist on this stage produced a smart 105 finish to win the first set, before he took control of this match in the second set - but then he appeared to lose his concentration in third.
His average dropped to around the 79 mark, and some clever darts from Kuivenhoven and an average of 100 gave him a clean sweep in the third set. Although Wade battled his way back in the final set, he was certainly not at his best in the second half of this one and missed five match darts before landing the winner. His Dutch opponent just missed too many opportunities but Wade will have to be better than this to match his best performances here.
Meanwhile, in a heartwarming story on day six, Rusty-Jake Rodriguez joined his brother in round two with a exhilarating 3-1 win over Ben Robb. On his Ally Pally debut, the 20-year-old Austrian stepped up to the plate and thrilled the crowd, to make a bit of history with his older brother. Together, they have become just the second set of brothers to both win at the PDC World Championship, after Kim and Ronny Huybrechts did the same in 2015.
Rodriguez won the first set with a 112 checkout before the New Zealander came back at him in the second. However, the fans’ favourite romped through the next two sets to secure his place in the next round, on a great day for the Rodriguez family.
In the first match of the night, James Wilson, a former BDO World Trophy winner in 2014, won the first set against Luke Woodhouse after nipping in with a 72 finish to capitalise on a mistake but Woody bounced back to go 2-1 ahead. Then in what turned out to be the final set, the 33-year-old booked his place in round two with a 116 finish, where he will face Australian Damon Heta.