Where the seeded players drop...
For the seeded players their first day at the Winmau World Masters didn't start well. The first three, James Wilson, Darryl Fitton and Wesley Harms, were immediately eliminated, because the qualifiers Mark McGeeney, Seigo Asada and Rhys Hayden played much better. Wilson was steamrolled by McGeeney's 106.14 average, Fitton and Asada raced head to head, in the deciding Leg the Japanese crossed the finishing line first. It was not as obvious why Wesley Harms lost - the Dutchman both had the better doubles hitting rate and the better average and threw the only two 180's of the match.
With Martin Phillips the tide turned - the Welshman proved he's not on the shelf yet. An impressive average of almost 100 and a double hitting rate of 50 percent were not to beat. Glen Durrant managed to stay in the tournament as well though he played far less well and the match only started to get gripping near the end.
Then with Ross Montgomery and Rick Hofstra the next seeded players went out of the tournament - both more mediocre matches, though Daniel Larsson from Sweden had with 57 percent on the doubles the highest hitting rate and with 156 the highest finish of the day.
In the match between Scott Mitchell and Paul Hogan Mitchell prevailed, a seeded player. Hogan had a rather slow start in the match - might be because he had to walk in without his music which clearly irritated him. In the deciding Leg Mitchell was - as during most of the match - just better. The next highlight of the day was the performance of Alan Norris, who threw in this short format almost unbelievable 8 180s. Qualifier Chris Dobey never managed to get into the match. The same happened in a much weaker match Madars Razma. For him Remco van Eijden was - after the smoke of the smoke machine had finally disappeared from stage - just too strong. Van Eijden's hitting rate on the doubles nevertheless to sure leaves a lot of room for improvement. The next two qualifiers Shayne Burgess and Jeffrey de Graaf couldn't keep up with seeded Pip Blackwell and Jamie Hughes either - not astonishing as Jamie Hughes played one of the best matches of the evening - an average of 98.34, six 180s and a double hitting rate of 44 percent.
Then with Robbie Green the next seeded player was eliminated - Dutch Willem Mandigers defeated him 3:1. In the following match another Dutchman had his debut on the big stage - Matthew Medhurst - and one could see it intimidated him. Gary Robson wouldn't have needed his 98.80 average to beat him. It followed the clash between Nick Kenny and Scott Waites. The young Welshman already played quite successful on the PDC youth tour and had beaten in the qualification both Tony O'Shea and Ted Hankey. It was an evenly matched and very close match. In the deciding leg both players showed some nerves. Kenny first reached a finish - and hit it with his first dart. The venue was in riot!
You would have thought after this nobody would be interested in the last match between Martin Adams and Dennis Harbour but somehow the two players managed to transfix the crowd - and not only because of the howling of the wolves. It just was a good and gripping match. Martin Adams won it and of course the evening ended with the howling of the wolves.
It was another very long day of darts - 16 matches, some mediocre, some superb, a few one sided and several thrilling. The City Hall is a beautiful venue with an intimate atmosphere. Richard Ashdown is a really good and likeable MC who with his humour contributes a lot to the cheerful mood. A pity the crowd was not bigger - the tournament really would deserve it!