Cross writes his name in the history books on day two at the Masters as van Gerwen, Smith and Wright all join him in the quarter-finals
Day Two in Milton Keynes saw victories for 2020 champion Peter Wright and five-time winner Michael van Gerwen. World Champion Michael Smith began his quest for a first Cazoo Masters crown with a victory over Ross Smith.
Rob Cross and Gary Anderson made Masters history during Saturday’s second round action at the Marshall Arena, and Van Gerwen, Wright, and Michael Smith all successfully made it to the round of eight.
In a rematch of the European Championship final from last October, Michael Smith defeated his namesake Ross, who eliminated combinations 126, 130, and 136 to take an early 4-2 lead.
The world number one was able to regain control thanks to his superior scoring ability, but the European Champion was unyielding and followed up his fourth 180 with a 15-darter to move 7-6 ahead.
With a 98 average, eight 180s, and a 47% checkout success rate, the World Champion powered to victory despite the strong riposte. He won four legs on the spin.
“The reception I got was unreal and I need to get used to it quick, because I was too busy enjoying it,” quipped Smith, who will take on UK Open champion Danny Noppert for a place in the semi-finals.
“That first session when Ross checked out 126 and 130, I thought it was the European Championship all over again!
“Every single time he left a ton-plus finish he hit it, but I stepped in, I took my chances and I’m glad to get the job done.”
MvG too strong for De Sousa
Van Gerwen, a five-time Masters champion, defeated Jose de Sousa in the opening round of his challenge by a score of 10-7 with an average of 104 and ten maximums.
Despite a large difference in averages, De Sousa had a chance to level the match at four all before Van Gerwen restored his lead with a 14-dart break.
De Sousa cut the deficit to 4-6 with a skillful 120 checkout in leg 10, but the Dutchman advanced convincingly, and De Sousa was unable to make any headway on his throw.
“I think I played well. My scoring power was there,” said Van Gerwen, who now faces Cross in a repeat of November’s Players Championship Finals decider.
“I was cool, I was calm. Jose finished well and took his chances, but I think I deserved to win this game.
“It is a fantastic line-up tomorrow, but I just have to focus on my own game. I’m a winner and I’m here to win this tournament, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
On Saturday afternoon, Cross and Anderson produced the highest combined average in Cazoo Masters history, with Cross winning 10-6 to tie Van Gerwen.
In a remarkable match, the two shot eight 180s each, with Cross averaging 112.32 to Anderson’s 111.17 – the second and fourth highest averages in the competition’s 11-year history.
Before Anderson opened his account with a 109 outshot, Cross made a quick start to race 4-0 ahead with legs of 11, 13, 12, and 14 darts, including a 124 finish in leg three.
Following a clinical 81 kill with another 11-darter, Cross restored his four-leg lead at 7-3. Later, he defeated Anderson’s two consecutive 12-darters to finish off a devastating performance.
“I enjoyed the game and I was strong when I needed to be strong,” reflected sixth seed Cross.
“I knew Gary was playing well, but I didn’t realise he was averaging 111! Fair play to him, he was absolutely brilliant there.
“I haven’t got a good record against Gary, so it was nice to put in a performance today. I’m loving my darts at the moment, and I’m in a good place.”
Wright sees off Chisnall
Wright persevered in his quest for a second Masters championship, holding off a valiant comeback from Dave Chisnall to secure a 10-7 victory.
Snakebite, who won the Nordic Darts Masters last weekend, jumped out to a 4-0 lead with legs of 14, 13, and 15 darts. A cool 113 finish in leg 11 propelled him to the verge of a convincing victory.
But after falling behind 9-3, Chisnall won four straight legs to threaten a famous comeback, only to miss double 18 for a 150 skin-saver in leg 17 as Wright finished the match with a 101 average.
In the evening’s curtain-raiser, Dirk van Duijvenbode defeated Gerwyn Price for the first time on television, advancing him to a quarterfinal matchup with Chris Dobey.
Van Duijvenbode overcame Price’s 170 and 116 finishes in the middle of the match to record a historic victory after falling short in 15 of his previous 16 encounters with the Welshman.
The mysterious Dutchman lost five match darts in the middle leg, but he recovered well, securing his advancement with his second 11-darter of the match.
“Those match darts I had in the leg before were the hardest darts I’ve ever thrown,” conceded Van Duijvenbode, who now faces Dobey for a place in the semi-finals.
“I always set myself high standards so if I am not hitting a 100 average every game, I’m not happy, but I’m pleased with how I managed to compose myself in that last leg.
“Chris is playing well. He is playing with real confidence. We will both think we have a good chance, so it will be a hard game but I’m looking forward to it.”
In the first match of the day, Noppert, who had fallen behind 6-2 at one point, rallied admirably to defeat Stephen Bunting in a nail-biting last-leg match.
The Dutchman wired the bull for a stunning 170 clincher, then converted 120 and 112 checkouts in the waning moments to move to the verge of victory. He then pinned double eight to win.
At the Marshall Arena, Dobey continued his impressive play by defeating fifth-seeded Luke Humphries 10-8 after defeating defending champion Joe Cullen in the first round.
Humphries overcame an 8-5 deficit to tie the match at eight apiece, but Dobey’s sensational 160-yard effort turned the tide and guaranteed the Bedlington thrower’s place in his first Masters quarterfinal.
Saturday’s other second round match saw 2021 champion Jonny Clayton cruise through to the quarterfinals with an emphatic 10-3 victory against 2014 champion James Wade. Saturday’s opener saw Noppert produce a fantastic fightback to deny Stephen Bunting in a thrilling last-le Noppert produced a terrific fightback to deny Stephen Bunting in a thrilling last-le.
With a 104 average, Clayton easily built a 5-0 lead, and despite Wade enjoying a brief comeback midway through the match, the Welshman won the final three legs without opposition to advance with style.
Saturday January 28
Danny Noppert 10-9 Stephen Bunting
Rob Cross 10-6 Gary Anderson
Jonny Clayton 10-3 James Wade
Chris Dobey 10-8 Luke Humphries
Second Round x4
Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-8 Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright 10-7 Dave Chisnall
Michael Smith 10-7 Ross Smith
Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Jose de Sousa
Sunday January 29
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Chris Dobey
Michael Smith v Danny Noppert
Peter Wright v Jonny Clayton
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Semi-Finals & Final