World no 4 Michael Smith crashed out of the PDC World Darts Championship as the final night before the Christmas break delivered its biggest shock, with debutant Jason Lowe stunning Bully Boy with a brilliant 3-1 victory.
For the second year in succession, after a 2019 final defeat to Michael van Gerwen on the Alexandra Palace stage, Smith fell at his first hurdle to join 2018 winner Rob Cross and two-time champion Adrian Lewis in suffering a second-round exit.
All the credit goes to Lowe, the 46-year-old world no 81 who only secured his Tour Card for the first time in January, as he produced a brilliant final set and sensational 101 finish to send Smith packing and himself into a date with Devon Petersen in the last 32.
It capped a dramatic final evening that also saw Nathan Aspinall fight back from 2-0 down to beat Scott Waites as the line-up for the last 32 was confirmed – with the field poised to return on December 27 for the third round.
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Wednesday evening’s second round results
Lowe shocks Bully Boy to keep major wait going
Smith’s major dreams are over after Jason Lowe delivered a spectacular performance on his Alexandra Palace debut to inflict another second-round defeat on Bully Boy – and leave the Premier League, World Championship and World Matchplay runner-up still waiting for an elusive first televised title.
An out-of-sorts Smith managed just two darts at a double in the opening set as Lowe swept into the lead and rode out some early missed doubles of his own to win three legs without reply from his fellow Englishman.
Lowe has enjoyed an impressive debut year on Tour, winning his place at the Worlds on the back of his Pro Tour performance and took his tally to five legs on the bounce with Smith having no answer and crucially lacking his trademark scoring power to be in position to punish the errant darts at double from Lowe.
Astonishingly Lowe swept into a 2-0 lead with a sixth leg in succession, Smith managing just two darts at double, and missed them both, while Lowe had 18 and could afford to miss 12 of them.
Smith’s first maximum came in the seventh leg and fighting for his life he dug deep to forge a 2-0 lead in the third set but the inconsistency remained as a remarkable sequence of events saw Bully Boy give Lowe chances in each of the next two legs which the debutant took to stand on the brink of a stunning upset.
Smith’s classy 74, with Lowe poised on double 14 for the match, gave the world no 4 a set but a stunning display from Lowe in the final set saw him reel off 14, 13 and 15-dart legs with a nerveless 101 sealing the biggest win of his darting life.
Aspinall fights back to stun Waites in classic
Aspinall has never failed to reach the semi-final at the World Championship, and he survived a monumental scare after launching a brilliant fight to win a last-leg shoot-out against a devastated Waites.
The pair served up a cracker on the final night before the Christmas break, which featured a sensational 125 finish from Waites, one of six three-figure outshots, and one that looked to have broken the Asp challenge.
However, Waites, on his Ally Pally debut after winning his Tour Card in January, could not calm himself down and missed four darts to reach the last 32 in the very next leg with Aspinall pouncing and then wrapping up a 3-2 win in the decider.
The Asp, beaten by Michael van Gerwen and Michael Smith in the last four over the last couple of years, underlined his status as a contender for the title after fighting back from 2-0 down.
Waites, the Lakeside champion in 2013 and 2016, also won the Grand Slam of Darts 10 years ago and he produced some magic to win the opening set with a pair of 13-darters along the way.
Aspinall vs Waites…the numbers
Scotty 2 Hotty took out 101 to stay perfect on the outer ring before he missed his first dart at a double to give Aspinall a chance to get on the board – a chance he took on double six.
But the Asp continued to play catch up. A brilliant 160 finish took the second set into a deciding fifth leg – where Waites underlined his class with a sensational 13-darter for a 2-0 lead.
Aspinall’s response was to up the ante, riding out Waites’ classy 103 finish to stay in front and land a tide-turning break on double eight. With a set in the bag, Aspinall added a 104 finish to maintain the momentum and level the match after Waites’ doubling deserted him.
A sensational contest was to have a remarkable finish, as Aspinall took the opening leg of the decider with a stunning 150, only to be trumped by Waites who broke throw with a bullseye-25-bullseye finish.
On the brink of his biggest PDC win, Waites faltered missing four darts for the match and Aspinall, never one to turn down an opportunity, grabbed the final two legs and a third-round showdown with Vincent van der Voort.
Live World Darts Championship
December 27, 2020, 12:00pm
Chizzy too strong for dogged Brown
Dave Chisnall rallied from a set down to see off a stubborn Keegan Brown and win through to a showdown with Holland’s Danny Noppert in the last 32.
With five defeats in major televised finals behind him, Chizzy has never gone beyond the last eight at the World Championship but he averaged 97 and fired in six maximum 180s on his way to a 3-1 win that wasn’t as comfortable as it should have been.
Former world youth champion Brown, who has spent much of this year as an NHS key worker in a laboratory on the Isle of Wight, defied a 108 average from Chisnall to pinch the first set in a deciding leg.
Chizzy had missed a dart for the first set and missed one for the second as early doubles at crucial junctures looked like they may cost him. But when Brown missed the opportunity to take the set and double his advantage, Chisnall pinned double 10 for a level contest.
The world no 8 bossed the third set and finished it with a 144 flourish as he looked to take control but Brown dug deep to take the fourth set all the way, Chizzy mopping up 96 to force a third set to go the distance.
Brown missed double top to force a deciding set and Chisnall pinned double 12 to seal his third-round spot.
Machine Gun fires to dazzle Kenny
Jermaine Wattimena set up an intriguing clash of styles with Dimitri Van den Bergh after a 3-1 win over impressive debutant Nick Kenny.
Rapid-fire Wattimena needed a little over eight minutes to claim the first set, clinical finishes of 56, 50 and 92 did for Welshman Kenny, who kept pace with the 24th seed when he claimed the second set with a brilliant 14-darter.
However, the match seemed to swing back in the Machine Gun’s favour when Wattimena took out a stunning 156 to break Kenny’s throw. The Welshman, playing on the Alexandra Palace stage for the first time, hit back with a break of his own only to see Wattimena take out the very next leg with the third dart in hand for a 2-1 lead.
Wattimena’s pace was taking him all over the board, as he mixed power scoring with missed doubles, but Kenny could not keep up and it was the Dutchman who won three of the final four legs to cross the finish line.
The considered approach of Van den Bergh is next for Wattimena and the clash of styles will make for an interesting watch when the tournament resumes after Christmas.
Don’t miss the thrilling conclusion to the World Darts Championship after Christmas as the arrows resume on the dedicated Sky Sports Darts channel from Sunday, December 27 with the winner crowned on January 3.
Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts
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