HEADING TO THE NITTY GRITTY AT LEICESTER AS VAN GERWEN FALLS

INSPIRED DOBEY DUMPS OUT REIGNING CHAMPION VAN GERWEN

Chris Dobey produced an inspired performance to dump reigning champion Michael van Gerwen out of the BoyleSports World Grand Prix on Thursday.

Day Four of the unique double-start event saw the second round action conclude in Leicester, and Dobey stole the show with a remarkable comeback victory over the six-time champion.

Van Gerwen was imperious in the opening exchanges, missing the bull for a double-start nine-darter twice in the space of three legs, as he aimed to land the first perfect leg at this event since 2014.

Dobey defied the Dutchman’s blistering barrage to draw first blood, only for Van Gerwen to reel off back-to-back sets and move to the cusp of a place in the last eight.

Despite missing three set darts for a 2-1 lead, the Masters champion regained his poise to force a deciding set, surviving a match dart at bull from Van Gerwen in a dramatic conclusion to set four.

Dobey then seized control of the deciding set with consecutive legs of 14 and 15 darts, before conjuring up a spectacular 156 checkout to complete one of the finest wins of his career.

This caps off a memorable 24 hours for Dobey, who was at St James’ Park on Wednesday to watch his beloved Newcastle United dispatch Paris Saint Germain 4-1 in the UEFA Champions League.

“What a game! We [Newcastle] are on a good run of form, and so am I!” quipped Dobey, who crashed in six 180s and pinned 61% of his darts at a starting double to stun Van Gerwen.

“I’ve owed Michael a couple from the last few times I’ve played him here, but after I beat him for the first time [last year], I’m not afraid of him anymore.

“I have played Michael so many times now, and it’s something special playing him on the big stage. I loved every minute of that, and I’m so glad to get another win.”

Dobey – through to his third World Grand Prix quarter-final in four attempts – now meets Joe Cullen, who stormed to a 3-1 success against European Champion Ross Smith in a high-quality encounter.

The pair crashed in 17 maximums between them, but it was former Masters champion Cullen who turned on the style in the closing stages to continue his bid for a second televised crown.

Cullen – aided by a 160 checkout – won the opening four legs to strike the first blow, before Smith punished rare misses from the Yorkshireman to level proceedings at one set apiece.

However, Cullen recovered to close out a tightly contested third set, before rallying from 2-0 down in the fourth, reeling off consecutive legs of 13, 15 and 11 darts to triumph with a set average of almost 109.

“It was a good performance,” reflected Cullen, who averaged 94 and registered eight 180s to reach back-to-back televised ranking quarter-finals.

“I knew that I had to be on my game, because Ross has turned me over a couple of times on TV now, so I was bang up for it tonight.

“Ross is a great guy and a quality player. I know how well he can play, and I knew I had to capitalise on any mistakes he made tonight, and I think I did it well.”

Earlier in the night, Peter Wright produced a trio of sensational ton-plus checkouts to topple Ryan Searle and avenge his defeat to the Somerset star at the same stage of July’s World Matchplay.

Searle started strongly to clinch the opening set, but Wright responded magnificently, following up a sensational 167 leveller with finishes of 158 and 121 to seize the initiative in set three.

Searle fought back to force a third-set decider, although after squandering six darts to regain the lead, he saw Wright rattle off the last four legs without reply to cap off an impressive display.

“I struggled with my throw throughout the whole match,” revealed Wright, a runner-up at the World Grand Prix in 2018.

“I’m happy with the result, not the performance, but if I can get through a scrappy game like that against a world-class player like Ryan Searle, I will take it!”

Wright’s reward is a quarter-final showdown against sixth seed Luke Humphries, who recorded a straight-sets victory over Luke Woodhouse in the evening’s opener.

Humphries won each set in a fifth and decisive leg to progress to a maiden World Grand Prix quarter-final, as debutant Woodhouse paid the price for spurning darts to win two of the three sets.

“It was a flattering scoreline because it could easily have been 3-0 to Luke [Woodhouse],” admitted Humphries, assessing a contest which saw 11 of the 15 legs won against throw.

“My scoring performance wasn’t up to scratch, but if I can keep doubling-in like I have been and I find my scoring power, I am definitely going to be tough to beat.”

The World Grand Prix quarter-finals will take place on Friday evening, as Van Gerwen’s conqueror Dobey faces Cullen, while Wright and Humphries also lock horns.

Elsewhere, world number one Michael Smith plays UK Open champion Andrew Gilding for a place in the last four, while 2020 champion Gerwyn Price meets German star Martin Schindler.

The BoyleSports World Grand Prix will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay, and on PDCTV (excluding UK, Germany, Austria & Switzerland based subscribers).

2023 BoyleSports World Grand Prix

Thursday October 5

Second Round x4

Luke Humphries 3-0 Luke Woodhouse (3-2, 3-2, 3-2)

Peter Wright 3-1 Ryan Searle (1-3, 3-1, 3-2, 3-0)

Chris Dobey 3-2 Michael van Gerwen (3-1, 0-3, 2-3, 3-2, 3-0)

Joe Cullen 3-1 Ross Smith (3-0, 2-3, 3-2, 3-2)

Friday October 6 (1900 BST)

Quarter-Finals

Gerwyn Price v Martin Schindler

Michael Smith v Andrew Gilding 

Peter Wright v Luke HumphriesChris Dobey v Joe Cullen

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