Former World Matchplay champion Gary Anderson suffered a first-round exit at the Winter Gardens on Sunday after he went down 10-7 to Daryl Gurney.
The ‘Flying Scotsman’ had been a runner-up two years ago and won the tournament in 2018, but was an early casualty in Blackpool during the first afternoon session of the PDC event.
Gurney, twice a World Matchplay semi-finalist, averaged 92.25 and kept his cool in the key moments to send Anderson packing.
A superb 134 checkout by 51-year-old Anderson reduced the deficit to 5-4 after a poor start but Gurney was able to win three legs in a row to take control.
Anderson took out 116 in the 15th leg to again pull within one of his rival at the Winter Gardens.
But Gurney showed his confidence to throw a no-look 180 during the final leg before he closed out the win.
Michael Smith, runner-up in 2019, survived a big scare before he edged out Andrew Gilding 11-9 in the first tie-breaker of this year’s tournament.
Smith had been 8-4 down but fought back and also managed to register the highest checkout at the World Matchplay so far with 161.
UK Open winner Danny Noppert also progressed into the second round with a 10-6 victory over Brendan Dolan.
His Dutch compatriot Dirk van Duijvenbode won as well after he beat Ryan Searle 10-8 in a thrilling affair.
Michael van Gerwen had to battle hard to avoid a first-round exit in the evening session before he was able to eventually get the better of Adrian Lewis by a 10-7 score.
The battle between the two former world champions lacked quality with both avering under 90, but Van Gerwen pulled away in the end to set up a meeting with Joe Cullen next in a repeat of last month’s Premier League Darts final.
Cullen, who won the Masters at the start of 2022, was in good form during a 10-2 thrashing of Damon Heta where he produced a 160 checkout.
James Wade started his latest quest for another World Matchplay title with an emphatic 10-4 victory over debutant Martin Lukeman.
Wade, who won at the Winter Gardens in 2007, hinted at life after darts following his round one success.
“All this is, is just a little push past what I need to do to retire. With what the PDC have done, to enable players like myself to do what we do, the working class boys are never ever going to get another opportunity like we have had so it is quite a special time and quite a special place,” he said at a press conference afterwards.
“It is not far off (retirement), not far off.”
Nathan Aspinall brought proceedings on day two to a close with a 10-5 win over world number 12 Luke Humphries.
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