You wouldn't have thought it from looking at him, but Co Stompe doesn't half like to live dangerously. Last night saw Stompe, 4-1 down against a Martin Philips on top form, come roaring back to take the match 5-4. Judging from his darts, if I'd had to go to work on Stompe's tram in Amsterdam years ago I'd have spent most of the journey in mortal terror of imminent death, before he pulled on the brakes and screeched to a halt at my stop.
Stompe threw some terrific darts, including what I'm fairly sure is the first successful 132 checkout of Bull, Bull, Double 16 I've ever seen, to defeat an unfortunate Philips, who apart from missing two doubles for the match in separate legs really did very little wrong. It was a winner takes all match, and how much it meant to the Dutchman can be seen from his reaction when the last dart went in: the last time I saw a man do that, he was waving a sword over his head and shouting "By the power of Grayskull!".
Now, I knew that the scientists at CERN had just succeeded in trapping antimatter (the fuel for the Starship Enterprise, among other things), but what I didn't know was that they were using it to power Scott Waites' throwing arm. The way Scott Waites played in the first 3 legs against Adrian Lewis could have seen the Jackpot sitting in an armchair in a corner of the Dundartin nursing home gibbering "Too good... Three ton plus checkouts" into his tea.
It wasn't just the successive checkouts of 161, 137 and 127, the 5 180s or the fact that at one point he was running a 3 dart average of 120; Scott Waites just looked so deeply "in the groove" it was a wonder he could see daylight. If Scott Waites can keep up this form, it would be no surprise to me if we got a rerun of last year's result (Waites lost in the final), albeit with a slightly altered ending. Adrian Lewis threw great darts, and over a longer format might have pulled off an upset, but Waites' early form rendered Lewis effectively irrelevant to the proceedings. When Waites did descend to a more human level later on in the match, it was just too late for Lewis to peg him back and he exited the tournament, losing 5-3.
Phil Taylor abandoned the specs (nuts! - having the world's greatest darts player in glasses would have been a bit of a boost for us speccies everywhere :o) ), seemingly to good effect as he posted an average of 108 to beat Wes Newton 5-3 and avoid the upset of the tournament by going out in the groups stages. He didn't look quite as radar-guided on his doubles as he normally is, but by the end of the match it was clear that the Power was on his way back to form once more.
In other matches, Steve Beaton and Ronnie Baxter were both on scintillating form, defeating Arron Monk and Paul Nicholson respectively. Mighty Mike van Gerwen looked a little more mighty against Ted Hankey but still ended up in Vincent van der Voort's car, heading for Harwich/Hull/Newcastle (probably Hull, from Wolverhampton) to get the ferry to Holland, after losing 5-4 to a less-assured-than-previously Hankey, and in the first match of the evening Colin Lloyd eased past Tricia Wright 5-1.
Raymond van Barneveld v. Darryl Fitton was a match that promised much, but turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. Darryl Fitton didn't play anywhere close to his best, whilst Barneveld, although not really doing anything wrong, didn't provide the sparkling darts to light up the match. Barney won 5-1, and moves on to the next round.
Just thought I'd add: yesterday I put 3 darts into the treble for the very first time! I don't think the fact that it was the treble 1 should be allowed to take the edge off my sense of achievement :o)