PDC Darts: Michael van Gerwen, Luke Humphries and Kim Huybrechts win on opening night
Action continues on Sky Sports Darts on Saturday with a double session, coverage begins at 12.30pm and 7pm
By Paul Prenderville at Alexandra Palace
Last Updated: 14/12/19 9:14am
Michael van Gerwen battled back from a set down to beat Jelle Klaasen and claim his place in the last 32 on day one of the World Darts Championship.
The world No 1, averaging just over 99, claimed his third world title in memorable fashion last year but he had to dig deep to avoid becoming the first defending champion to bow out at his first hurdle in a decade.
Trailing 2-1 in the second set after losing the opener, Van Gerwen needed a couple of huge finishes to turn the contest around and, while being far from his best, he fought his way through to the third round despite his lowest average at Ally Pally since December 2015.
Luke Humphries and Kim Huybrechts were also among the day one winner, booking Saturday second-round dates on on a night that featured an incredible 16 finishes of more than 100.
PDC World Championship: Friday's results
|First Round||Jelle Klaasen 3-1 Kevin Burness|
|Kim Huybrechts 3-2 Geert Nentjes|
|Luke Humphries 3-1 Devon Petersen|
|Second Round||Michael van Gerwen 3-1 Jelle Klaasen|
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Van Gerwen survives scare to win through
After a blistering start, Van Gerwen found himself staring down the barrel as Klaasen reeled off three legs in succession to take the opening set and then take two of the next three to stand one leg away from a remarkable 2-0 lead.
However, the world No 1 is fond of saying 'I do the right things at the right times' and having levelled the second set he produced a sensational 170 finish to level the contest.
Shock in store?
John Part was the last world champion to suffer a first hurdle defeat, losing 3-0 to America's Bill Davis in 2009 - 12 months after Darth Maple had claimed his third world crown
Klaasen, who had earlier fought back from 1-0 down to beat Kevin Burness 3-1 to set up the clash against his countryman, was ahead in the averages and playing the better darts.
The former BDO world champion edged ahead in the third only for Van Gerwen to up the ante, pushing his average more towards a more familiar three figures as he claimed a flattering 3-1 win
Humphries sees off dancing Devon
Luke Humphries sealed a second-round showdown with 18th seed Jermaine Wattimena on Saturday after a spectacular display of finishing saw him end the hopes of Devon Petersen.
The South African had delighted the crowd with his walk-on, but as both men struggled to find the doubles they split the opening sets to effectively turn the contest into a best of three shoot-out.
It was Humphries, the newly crowd world youth champion, who prevailed as he won the next two sets on fifth-leg deciders and took out four 100+ finishes along the way, with a spellbinding 160 the highlight giving him the crucial 2-1 advantage.
The 24-year-old now faces less than 24 hours to prepare himself for the next round, when he faces Wattimena for a place in the last 32.
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Hurricane through to Cross showdown
Kim Huybrechts was forced to dig deep early on, battling back from 2-0 down in the opening leg to claim the lead in a decider, only to see his opponent win the next two sets to stand one set away from a first win at Ally Pally.
However, that was only after Huybrechts had thrown away a chance for a 2-1 lead in sets himself. But the Belgian, a quarter-finalist on debut in 2012, showed flashed of the class that has taken him to televised semi-finals and finals.
A brilliant 164 finish was the highlight, the Hurricane conjured the outshot from nowhere for his third 100+ check-out of the contest to level the match before edging a dramatic final set.
With the finish line in sight both men faltered, missing a plethora of doubles until the Hurricane struck for the decisive dart and a place in the last 64.
Moment of the Night - The Big Fish
No question about the moment of the night, the big fish, the 170. Van Gerwen's love of the most spectacular finish in the game was evident when he needed it most.
Standing one leg away from a 2-0 deficit in sets, Van Gerwen needed the highest possible outshot, and as is his way, he took it out.
Remarkably, it's the sixth year in succession that the world No 1 has chalked off the finish at the World Championship
What's in Store on Saturday?
Two sessions of action kick off a bumper weekend of tungsten and there is no doubt about who is the star turn. Mr Raymond van Barneveld.
The five-time world champion begins his final tournament as a professional after a long build-up and he faces experienced American Darin Young in the evening's headline attraction.
I was with him last weekend, he's very, very, very relaxed. I think he could be dangerous.
Colin Lloyd on Raymond van Barneveld
Also in action on Saturday night is 2018 champion Rob Cross, who starts his bid for a third major title of the year against Huybrechts.
James Hughes plays Zoran Lerchbacher for the right to play Krzysztof Ratajski and Mark McGeeney starts the evening session against Matt Campbell.
PDC World Championship: Saturday's Order of Play
|Afternoon session||Darius Labanauskas vs Matthew Edgar|
|Ryan Meikle vs Yuki Yamada|
|Luke Woodhouse vs Paul Lim|
|Jermaine Wattimena vs Luke Humphries|
|Evening session||Mark McGeeney vs Matt Campbell|
|Jamie Hughes vs Zoran Lerchbacher|
|Raymond van Barneveld vs Darin Young|
|Rob Cross vs Kim Huybrechts|
It's an early start in north London for Darius Labanauskas against Matthew Edgar, who kick off day two on Sky Sports Darts.
Exciting youngsters Ryan Meikle and Luke Woodhouse go up against two of the finest from the Asian Tour with Meikle facing Yuki Yamada and Woodhouse facing the legendary Paul Lim.
Humphries is back to conclude the afternoon session when he faces 18th seed Wattimena.
The action continues on Saturday with a double session live on Sky Sports Darts from 12.30pm and 7pm and the action continues through to the final on New Year's Day. If you are out and about you can follow with regular updates, clips, features & reports at skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and @SkySportsDarts