European Championship 2020: Jose de Sousa fires first nine-darter as Rob Cross exits
Michael van Gerwen eases into second round in Oberhausen as he chases first TV title since March, Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright win through to blockbuster second-round showdown and top-seed Joe Cullen crashes out; Defending champion Rob Cross sent packing by Martijn Kleermaker
Last Updated: 30/10/20 10:53am
A bumper day of first-round action at the European Championship was headlined by Jose de Sousa's brilliant nine-dart leg in victory over Jeffrey de Zwaan, while Rob Cross was sent packing by Martijn Kleermaker.
All 16 matches were played in one continuous session in Oberhausen, and De Sousa took the headlines despite the stellar cast on show.
Just a fortnight on from his first European Tour victory at the European Darts Grand Prix, when he beat Michael van Gerwen in a thrilling final display, De Sousa lived up to his 'Special One' nickname.
A 6-3 win over De Zwaan in Oberhausen saw him through to a second-round date with Jonny Clayton but the highlight came in the second leg when he scored 180 and 177 before taking out 144, pinning double 12 to achieve perfection for the first time in a televised event.
"It is amazing to hit my first nine-darter on the television," said De Sousa.
"This feeling is very special but it is more important to win. I am very proud today - this is fantastic for me. I am always trying to improve but I am enjoying my game and I will do everything to get better."
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Reigning champion Cross was among the high-profile exits on day one as a busy month of action on the PDC circuit gets under way.
This week's European Championship will be followed by next weekend's World Cup of Darts in Salzburg, five days of Winter Series action, the Grand Slam of Darts and Players Championship Finals all before the end of the month.
Former world champion Cross has his work cut out to improve on a run of form that has now seen him beaten in the first round of the World Matchplay, the World Grand Prix and on Thursday the tournament he won so impressively last year.
'Voltage' suffered a 6-3 loss to debutant Kleermaker who will face Devon Petersen after the South African came through his match with Andy Hamilton.
Joining Cross on the list of surprise early exits was top-seed Joe Cullen, beaten 6-3 by Ireland's William O'Connor who is only in the field because of a positive coronavirus test for Premier League champion Glen Durrant.
O'Connor came from 2-1 down to win five of the next six legs in taking victory over 'The Rockstar', and he will face Jamie Hughes who provided another surprise with victory over Dave Chisnall.
European Championship - Second Round
|William O'Connor vs Jamie Hughes|
|Nathan Apsinall vs James Wade|
|Devon Petersen vs Martijn Kleermaker|
|Michael van Gerwen vs Ian White|
|Gerwyn Price vs Peter Wright|
|Mensur Suljovic vs Steve West|
|Jose De Sousa vs Jonny Clayton|
|Michael Smith vs Dirk van Duijvenbode|
Four-time winner Michael van Gerwen averaged 103 and perhaps more importantly showed an improved display on the outer ring, finishing 50 per cent of his darts at a double, in a classy 6-1 win over Darius Labanauskas.
Consistency had been missing for the world No 1 but having reached the last two European Tour finals, he looks like he may be running into form at a crucial time of the year.
"I feel like I did pretty well today," said Van Gerwen who next faces Ian White.
"I've not been working on anything specific but I know I've not been playing my A game or even my B or C game so I know I need to improve.
"The pressure is always on my shoulders and people expect me to do well all the time but that is because of how well I have done in the past so that is okay. Feeling good like I am now, I'm going to be dangerous."
Gerwyn Price's bid to claim a second successive TV ranking title began in outstanding fashion as he hit six doubles from seven attempts to see off Kim Huybrechts 6-1, averaging 103.68 in the process.
The Welshman now takes on Peter Wright, after the Scot averaged 104.73 in an impressive 6-3 win over Gabriel Clemens, after sitting out the last two weekends of European Tour action
Thursday's First Round results
Jamie Hughes 6-5 Dave Chisnall
Steve West 6-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
Ian White 6-2 Mervyn King
Jose de Sousa 6-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan - De Sousa hits nine-dart finish
James Wade 6-5 Steve Lennon
Devon Petersen 6-1 Andy Hamilton
Michael Smith 6-5 Ross Smith
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-0 Danny Noppert
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Maik Kuivenhoven
William O'Connor 6-3 Joe Cullen
Martijn Kleermaker 6-3 Rob Cross
Jonny Clayton 6-5 Max Hopp
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Darius Labanauskas
Gerwyn Price 6-1 Kim Huybrechts
Peter Wright 6-3 Gabriel Clemens
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 Daryl Gurney
Darts is back on Sky Sports with a bumper double header in November. Three days and six sessions of action will crown this year's World Cup of Darts champions, coverage begins from 12pm on Friday November 6. Nine days of Grand Slam of Darts action gets underway on Monday November 16