ENGSTROM DUMPS OUT WRIGHT, AS CROSS CREATES HISTORY IN COPENHAGEN

Johan Engstrom fought back from the brink to dump out reigning champion Peter Wright on the opening night of the Mr Vegas Nordic Darts Masters in Copenhagen on Friday.
Swedish star Engstrom – a winner of two Nordic & Baltic ProTour titles in 2024 – recovered from 5-3 down to stun the two-time World Champion in the Danish capital, reeling off the last three legs in 13, 15 and 13 darts.
The 47-year-old had impressed on the European Tour in 2024, but his landmark first victory on the World Series stage now sets up an enthralling quarter-final showdown against World Champion Luke Humphries.
“I am really, really happy,” reflected an emotional Engstrom, who pinned six of his nine attempts at double to triumph.
“I don’t have the words for this. Maybe Peter didn’t perform at his best, but my doubles were good, and I did it!
“This is one of the best wins of my career, and hopefully I can do even better tomorrow!”
Friday’s opening night featured eight first-round ties at the Forum Copenhagen, as newly crowned US Darts Masters champion Rob Cross recorded the highest average in Nordic Darts Masters history.
The 2018 World Champion ran out a 6-4 winner in an absorbing contest against Jeffrey de Graaf, averaging 108.19 and defying a trio of 12-darters from the Swedish World Cup star.
“I was very focused tonight and I needed to be,” insisted Cross, who fired in legs of 15, 11, 14, 14 and 13 darts to race into a 5-2 lead.
“In my opinion Jeffrey was the toughest opponent I could have drawn. He’s been in very good form and credit to him, he caused me a lot of problems.
“I’m enjoying my darts and I’ve got a swagger about me right now. I just want to perform and I just want to win, so life is good at the moment.”
Elsewhere, world number one Humphries began his bid for a maiden World Series crown with a whitewash win against Denmark’s Benjamin Drue Reus, averaging over a ton to seal his progress in just over 11 minutes.
“I was a bit sceptical ahead of tonight, but that was a decent performance,” claimed Humphries, the number three seed this weekend.
“Since the Premier League final I haven’t had much time to practice and I didn’t really perform the way I wanted to in New York, but I felt good tonight and hopefully I can improve tomorrow.
“It was an amazing crowd. I expected a hostile atmosphere but after the experience I’ve had over the last few months, I’m used to that now, and I don’t let it affect me like I did at the start of the year.”
Top seed Gerwyn Price put in a stellar display in his 6-2 victory against Latvia’s Madars Razma – the highest-ranked Nordic & Baltic representative in the field.
Price came agonisingly close to lifting the US Darts Masters title in New York last weekend, but the Welshman returned to winning ways in style, averaging 102 and converting a brace of ton-plus finishes to progress.
Michael Smith also registered a ton-topping average in his 6-1 demolition of debutant Paavo Myller, unleashing a blistering barrage in the opening exchanges of the contest.
“I felt so relaxed and so comfortable tonight,” reflected Smith, who was delighted to bounce back following his early exit in New York last weekend.
“Last week was one of the worst feelings I’ve had after a defeat. Today I had to prove a point. I wanted a big performance and luckily enough I got it.”
In the evening’s opener, 2022 champion Dimitri Van den Bergh began his bid for a second title in the Danish capital with an impressive 6-3 success against Dennis Nilsson, as the pair fired in nine 180s between them.
World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall also ran out an emphatic 6-2 winner against Finland’s Marko Kantele, pinning six of his nine attempts at double to cap off a clinical display.
Meanwhile, Stephen Bunting survived a scare on his World Series return, fending off a late fightback from Sweden’s Daniel Larsson, who recovered from 5-2 down to create a last-leg shoot-out.
The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will take place on a bumper evening session on Saturday, as this year’s showpiece reaches a thrilling climax in Copenhagen.
Price will play Van den Bergh in the opening quarter-final, Smith and Aspinall will then renew their rivalry, before Cross meets Bunting and Humphries faces Engstrom.
The Mr Vegas Nordic Darts Masters will be broadcast on ITV3 in the UK, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).
2024 Mr Vegas Nordic Darts Masters
Friday June 7
First Round x8
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-3 Dennis Nilsson
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Marko Kantele
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Madars Razma
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Daniel Larsson
Johan Engstrom 6-5 Peter Wright
Michael Smith 6-1 Paavo Myller
Rob Cross 6-4 Jeffrey de Graaf
Luke Humphries 6-0 Benjamin Drue Reus
Saturday June 8 (1900 local time)
Quarter-Finals
Gerwyn Price v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael Smith v Nathan Aspinall
Rob Cross v Stephen Bunting
Luke Humphries v Johan Engstrom
Best of 11 legs
Semi-Finals
Price/Van den Bergh v Smith/Aspinall
Cross/Bunting v Humphries/Engstrom
Best of 13 legs
Final
Price/Van den Bergh/Smith/Aspinall v Cross/Bunting/Humphries/Engstrom
Best of 15 legs
Photos credit Simon O’Connor/PDC

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