So many matches, so little time :o)
However, just thought I'd bung up a few observations on last night's proceedings, in no particular order...
Reece Robinson - now there's a lad who's well worth watching, and I'd be very surprised if he wasn't a future star in the making (although given my record on making predicitions (see posts passim here) he's now almost guaranteed to crash and burn in a veritable orgy of disappointing performances, but hey ho... :o) ).
19 year old Reece, who put in a stonking performance at last year's UK Open (see here and here), played another blinder in his first round match, going for Barrie Bates like Dominique Strauss-Kahn for a chamber maid. Bates, a seasoned veteran, got tonked 4-0. Not content with this, Robinson then strolled out for his second round match and casually nailed Wayne Mardle to the wall. Hawaii 5-O rapidly became Hawaii 4-0, and poor old Wayne's hopes of a comeback were sadly turned to dust; still, I quite like Mardle as a commentator - I just wish he didn't sound exactly like Rod Harrington :o)
Peter 'Rock' Hudson, in his second round match against Magnus Caris (a man with a darting pedigree stretching back to Bristow and Wilson), pulled off a comeback from 3-1 down akin to the aforementioned DSK becoming the next President of France. Caris, having dumped out Kevin McDine in his previous match, had multiple darts for the match in a nervy 5th leg, but Hudson clung on by his fingernails and stayed alive.
Hudson, in a performance his namesake Rock would have been proud of, took the next leg and then threw a magnificent 10 darter (against a Caris who was throwing back-to-back ton forties) to snatch the last leg against the throw and win the match. Caris, in the 7th leg, was on 164; Hudson was not on a finish. Caris made the questionable decision to attempt treble 20, treble 18, Bull for a swift and glorious finish, rather than setting himself up for 3 darts at an easy double, and it cost him dearly as he missed two subsequent attempts to polish off 9, double 8 and Hudson capitalised. In the commentary box, it sounded like Eric Bristow needed all his composure to stop himself walking out on stage and slapping Caris for his schoolboy error :o) Nothing should take credit from Hudson though, and for me this was the match of the evening.
'Mighty Mike' van Gerwen was on decent form, which is good to see. James Wade came through both of his matches seemingly comfortably, though there was a little bit of argy-bargy at the end of his second round match when Dave Prins at first refused to shake his hand. "A bit ungentlemanly" and "Just not cricket" I hear you cry, and I'd be inclined to agree; not sure what it was all about (and neither was Wade), but it seems to have sorted itself out.
That great character Andy 'Pieman' Smith managed a back-to-back whitewashes of his opponents - always good to see him on form - whilst Dennis 'the Menace' Priestly (gradually :o) ) overcame his opponents to book a place in the Third Round.
'Bronzed Adonis' and former World Champion Steve Beaton made his way through too - he came closest to a 9 darter, throwing 6 perfect darts before missing his 7th at the treble 20. Colin Lloyd v. Jelle Klaasen was the biggest first-round bill; neither man pulled off anything spectacular, but Lloyd did what he had to do, before going on to end youngster Arron Monk's dreams of glory in the Second Round. Monk Senior - Colin; a very nice chap, but possibly the scariest looking man in darts :o) - fell at the first hurdle.
So, 32 survivors take on the 32 big shots this evening - and what fun it promises to be :o)