World number two Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright continues his campaign to lift his second PDC World Championship, after beating Ryan Meikle 3-0 in Friday evening’s Alexandra Palace headliner. Wright has won seven titles in a superb 2021 campaign, and that edge in experience told during a clinical display.
A 180 in the first leg was not enough for Wright to break Meikle’s throw though, and he would have to wait until the fifth leg of the first set before finally taking the advantage. The only hint of shakiness from the 2020 World Champion came in the second leg of the second set, when he missed three darts on tops. He bounced back to take the leg and then the set, and never really looked back.
A couple of bounce-outs didn’t go the Scotsman’s way, but he was measured in his approach and Meikle did not really have an answer for it. Wright took the first two legs of the final set without much resistance. He had match-dart on bullseye and while that didn’t fall for him, he checked out on his next visit to progress.
Two of the young stars of darts put on the game of the championships so far, as William Borland registered a nine-dart finish in the deciding leg of a magnificent 3-2 victory over Bradley Brooks. The Scotsman had been white-washed in the first set, with Brooks needing just 40 darts and under five minutes to go in front.
Borland edged back in, taking the first leg of the second set with tops after Brooks stumbled on double one. Borland then held his throw to take the second before back to back 180s and a 170 saw Brooks take a ten-dart leg in the third. The quality on show was matched only by the pace the two players were operating at. This was high-quality, breakneck darts.
Borland looked to be dominating, finishing 148 to wild cheers. But soon, the rowdy Ally Pally crowd were roaring their approval at Brooks as he pulled it back to 2-2 in sets. The stage was set for a decider, and it was nail-biting stuff. After splitting the first four legs, it all came down to one leg of darts. In what amounted to a high-stakes staring contest, Borland did not blink, taking down a nine-darter before his confident celebrations gave way to unbridled joy. After a first round like this between two young players, the sport of darts is in safe hands.
UNBELIEVABLE SCENES AS WILLIE BORLAND STRIKES PERFECTION TO WIN THE DECIDING LEG AND ALLY PALLY HAS ABSOLUTELY ERUPTED!
SIMPLY SENSATIONAL 🤯
In a more arduous game then expected, Joe Murnan eventually triumphed 3-2 over the popular veteran Paul Lim to advance to the second round. ‘The Singapore Slinger’ came flying out of the blocks, notching a 180 in the first leg and a pair of 140s in the second leg on the way to winning both. After a wobble in the third leg, Lim held this throw with a pair of 140s and a ton to take the first set.
Another 180 saw Lim start the second set strongly, but the game devolved into an untidy struggle for both men. Murnan improved slightly, Lim regressed, and both men met in the middle in a low-quality affair. It would be the Wigan man who took advantage of the malaise, levelling things after some struggles on double top. His inability to hit double-twenty would become a feature, but he still edged Lim in the finishing stats all night long.
Long being the operative word, with the game eventually going the full five-set distance. Murnan missed five match-darts over the course of the evening, but eventually advanced 3-2 after finishing 45 to take a gruelling game. He moves on to meet Nathan Aspinall in the second round.
The battle of the Smiths between Canada’s Jeff and Kent’s Ross was the first of the evening’s matches to stop short of the full five sets. Ross Smith walked out 3-0 winner, but his frustration was clear at times as he didn’t play his best darts. Jeff notched an early 180 before Ross took control, breaking his throw with tops and winning the set after some scares with a nervy double one.
The second was a more relaxed affair, with Ross needing just three legs to do it. His self-punishing asides were not as evident, and he started the third coolly. A 116 and a 144 checkout suggested this would be a routine win. Jeff pulled back a messy leg when Ross’ finishing deserted him, but the Canadian then missed a double and fell to defeat in the decider. Ross Smith will need to show more against Stephen Bunting in the second round.
Keep up with the full results and schedule from the PDC World Championships here.