PDC World Darts Championship 2020/21: Peter Wright dumped out as Michael van Gerwen marches on

The PDC World Darts Championship had its highest-profile exit after defending champion Peter Wright was beaten in a last-leg shoot-out by Germany’s Gabriel Clemens.

2018 champion Rob Cross and 2019 runner-up Michael Smith perished before Christmas but as the third round got underway after a three-day break, last year’s champion joined them.

A thrilling contest against 31st seed Clemens ebbed and flowed as Wright fought back from 2-0 and 3-2 down but in the end it was the German who won through to the last 16 when he pinned double 19 with a nerveless 14-darter in the deciding leg of the deciding set.

Three-time Michael van Gerwen avoided a similar fate by producing a blistering display against an inspired Ricky Evans who averaged 101, hit 50 per cent of his doubles and fired in six maximums but still suffered a 4-0 defeat.

Van Gerwen averaged 107, hit seven 180s and 57 per cent of his doubles to follow up his 108 average in the second round and lay down a marker after title rival Wright’s stunning exit.

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Sunday’s Third Round results

Clemens holds off Wright fightback to make history

Twelve days on from taking to the stage on opening night in a Grinch outfit in front of the only fans to attend this year’s tournament, Wright was back to continue the defence of his title but it was Clemens who ripped the crown from the champion’s head.

A high-quality contest went the way of Clemens who became the first German to reach the last 16 and will play Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski for a spot in the quarter-finals.

In the end Snakebite’s doubling let him down despite a near-faultless opening set that saw the world No 2 fight back from losing the first leg to hit the outer ring which each of his next three attempts at a double to claim the first set with an average of 102.

However, Clemens was not overawed and bettered that average by five points to level the match by winning three of the next four legs and went one better with three on the bounce to take the third set and lead the champion.

A 19th missed dart at double from Wright handed Clemens the chance to break which the ‘German Giant’ took via a clinical 81 check-out. The 31st seed took his run to eight of nine legs before missing two for the fourth set as Snakebite stopped the rot and then showed all the class of a champion.

A brilliant 98 restored parity in the fourth set and a classy 120 check-out levelled the match at two sets apiece. Wright took out a fourth and fifth leg in succession before Clemens hit the front again. A 144 finish followed by a clinical 84, after Wright wired the bullseye for the set, took the fifth set into a decider where the German’s nerveless 126 check-out gave him a 3-2 lead.

Snakebite sprinted through the sixth in just 41 darts to send the match the distance and a best-of-seven-set match effectively came down to a best of three shoot-out and then a last-leg decider where Clemens wrapped up the landmark win and dethroned the champion.

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Monday’s Third Round Order of Play

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December 28, 2020, 12:00pm

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Relentless Van Gerwen speeds past Rapid Ricky

Having spent Christmas in London in the company of Vincent van der Voort and Dirk van Duijvenbode, Van Gerwen was forced to wait a little longer after the evening’s drama – but a 4-0 win over Evans saw him through to the last 16 where he will face Joe Cullen.

Christmas Dinner finally with @VvdV180 @Duivee @ModusDarts180 😂😂🧆🥩🥓- – watch out @GordonRamsay @ChefTomKerridge 😎 pic.twitter.com/aPUJ3iviFH

After Wright’s exit, the Dutchman knew a win would see off the threat of Snakebite in the battle to be world No 1 but Gerwyn Price will also have designs on that, in addition to his own maiden world title dreams.

In a quickfire contest between two of the fastest throwers in the game, Van Gerwen needed just six minutes to claim the lead and doubled his advantage despite the best efforts of Evans.

Rapid Ricky fired a brilliant leg to break the Dutchman for a 2-1 lead but Van Gerwen produced near perfection to first fire in a superb 150 check-out and then a sizzling 11-dart leg that put him two sets to the good.

Only once in the last eight tournaments has MvG failed to reach the last four and another 11-darter got him off to another flier in the third set. Back came Evans again as the third set went to a decider again but it was the Dutchman who went one set away.

Fittingly, the fourth set went the distance again which was credit to the performance of Evans as well as the brilliance of Van Gerwen. The Dutchman sealed a return to the last 16 with a 13-dart hold of throw to main his superb record in the tournament.

Only once in the last eight tournaments has MvG failed to reach the last four, and his opening two performances have underlined his desire to go the distance again.

Cullen beats Clayton in a classic

In his 10 previous appearances at the World Darts Championship Joe Cullen has never gone beyond the third round but he advances to a showdown with Van Gerwen after a 4-3 victory over good friend Jonny Clayton.

The pair shared 13 maximum 180s and eight huge three-figure finishes with Cullen sealing victory in a last-leg decider thanks to a brilliant 100 check-out courtesy of two double tops with Clayton waiting on 40 for the match.

A see-saw opener set the tone for the contest, Cullen pinching it in a fifth leg decider after Clayton had missed two for a 1-0 lead in the fourth leg. Cullen’s response was to fire in a brilliant 12-dart leg, finishing 180-103 to seize the early initiative.

The Rock Star punished more missed darts from The Ferret to start the second and made it five legs on the bounce with a clinical 68 and while Clayton stopped the rot, it was Cullen who claimed the set when he cleaned up 72 for a 2-0 lead.

Clayton swept to the third set with his best darts of the match to half the deficit – finishes of 106 and 114 giving the Welshman hope of bettering his best-ever showing at the World Championships.

With the pair sharing the first four legs, a pivotal fourth set decider went the way of Clayton but only after Cullen had missed two for a 3-1 lead, instead the match was all square.

Clayton punished three more missed darts at double from Cullen to lead for the first time since the third leg of the match and he turned that in a 3-2 set advantage with a brilliant 13-dart leg.

Cullen hit back to claim the sixth set and take the contest into a deciding set and despite Clayton storming into a 2-0 lead, Cullen hit back to take the match into a fifth leg shoot-out, where the Englishman prevailed.

The story of the game…..

Dream-maker dazzles, Whitlock whitewashed

Krzysztof Ratajski, Ryan Searle and Dimitri Van den Bergh progressed to the last 16 of the World Darts Championship after impressive wins on Sunday afternoon.

After the Christmas sabbatical, 32 players remained in the hunt for the Sid Waddell Trophy. That number dropped to 29, after Ratajski, Searle and Van den Bergh overcame Simon Whitlock, Kim Huybrechts and Jermaine Wattimena respectively.

You won’t miss a dart thanks to the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel all the way until January 4 with every session from the World Darts Championship, including the final on Sunday, January 3. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts

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