Michael van Gerwen beats Christian Kist in World Darts Championship first round
Steve Beaton, James Wilson also power into second round
By Paul Prenderville at Alexandra Palace
Last Updated: 15/12/17 5:51pm
Michael van Gerwen needed to be at his very best to beat Christian Kist and kick off the defence of his World Darts Championship with a hard-fought first-round victory.
As has become tradition, the reigning champion is the headline attraction on the opening night and the all-conquering world no 1 did not disappoint with a fine victory over Kist, who put his battle with arthritis to one side to force his countryman to produce his very best in a 3-1 victory.
Chasing his third world title, and coming into the match on a 29-game winning streak, MvG hit the ground running with three 100+ finishes, 69% check-out rate and an average of 106.17.
"I'm not unbeatable but I am feeling close to it," Van Gerwen told the assembled media afterwards.
|Steve Beaton (25)||3-1||William O'Connor|
|James Wilson (32)||3-1||Krzysztof Ratajski|
|Michael van Gerwen (1)||3-1||Christian Kist|
|Gerwyn Price (16)||3-0||Ted Evetts|
He produced some breathtaking darts to claim the first three legs and with it the opening set in less than five minutes - a brilliant 141 check-out put the seal on the opener while Kist was left to reflect on two missed darts at bullseye and a paltry average of 105.31.
Kist's battle with arthritis has seen him struggle to even hold a dart on occasions but he maintained a three-figure average of his own to keep Van Gerwen honest and it was to Kist's credit that MvG reeled three unanswered legs to forge a 2-0 lead.
The third set proved to be a real treat with Kist again drawing the best from the defending champion, who needed an excellent 138 check-out to level the set only to see Kist pin double 9 to force a fourth which Van Gerwen romped through to seal his second-round spot.
"I played well to start the tournament, the first round is always hard as you want to show everyone the form you are in.
"I know what losing is like, it's the worst feeling for someone performing at the highest level to have - they can beat me in another tournament but not in this one.
"Every game will be different, the format will get longer and I just have to go out there and play well
MvG will face James Wilson next after a 3-1 victory over Poland's Krzysztof Ratajski for 'Lethal Biscuit', who has dispensed with the 'Jammie Dodger' nickname for his new moniker.
And he was forced to work every step of the way against Ratajski, who took the opening set with an average close to 100 but as his level dipped, Wilson's grew stronger and he reeled off the next three sets.
Although he needed five legs for a couple of them, an average just under 98 was enough to seal a first ever spot in the PDC World Championship second round for the one-time BDO quarter-finalist.
Before the attention turns to Phil Taylor, who begins his final event as a professional on Friday evening against Chris Dobey, the opening night began with 1996 BDO world champion Steve Beaton chalking up a 3-1 victory over William O'Connor.
Serenaded to the rafter as the Bee Gees' 'Stayin Alive' rang around the arena, The Bronzed Adonis rolled back the years with an average just under 94 to book his place in the second round against either Dave Chisnall or Vincent van der Voort.
Both men were slow out of the gate, trading three breaks early on, before Beaton's experience saw him claim the opener among 16 missed darts at doubles for O'Connor who looked overawed on his debut.
Beaton continued to roll back the years, a fantastic 81 via the bullseye and then a best of the match 131 saw him reel off a fifth leg in succession and eased into a 2-0 lead.
The Irishman found his feet, storming to the third set, cleaning up 64 and then 97 for a break of throw and then a spectacular 14-dart leg to get a first ever set at the tournament
Beaton was not to be denied and O'Connor needed a 115 check-out to keep the match alive when trailing 2-0, but the former Lakeside champion returned to seal the match with a clinical 52 checkout.
In the final match of the evening, Gerwyn Price was too strong for Ted Evetts, Price chalking up an average in excess of 100 to go with four 180s and a host of missed doubles to record a 3-0 win.
Evetts had won the PDPA qualifier to take one of the final three spots and his superb display in Milton Keynes had this down as a banana skin for the Iceman, but Price was too strong as he eased through against the debutant - although his finishing will need to improve as he goes deeper.
The 2018 World Championship from Alexandra Palace continues on Friday with Phil Taylor in action and the tournament ends on New Year's Day - coverage available on Sky Sports Darts
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