Lim rolls back years to stun Scots
All but one of the match favourites, according to the bookies, went through on Day 1, but the one upset of the night was arguably the biggest shock in World Cup of Darts history.
Singapore, led by 63-year-old Paul Lim – who famously threw the first-ever World Championship 9-darter way back in 1990 – tore top seeds Scotland apart 5-2 to reach the second round.
PDC worlds number two Gary Anderson and three and Peter Wright, runners-up in 2015, never got going, unlike Lim, who fired in 180s and took out a ton finish to wrap up the match.
Scotland’s early exit smashed the top side of the draw wide open, as remaining seeds Australia, Wales and Belgium all have higher hopes now of reaching their second final.
Read on below for Sam Barnard‘s 2017 World Cup of Darts Day 1 report in further depth…
Darting minnows Greece and Thailand kicked off the tournament, and it was a nail-biting encounter for both.
PDC world number 67 John Michael and his European team were slow to start, as they slipped 3-1 behind and it could have been 4-1, but they eventually picked up the pace to rattle off the next four legs to win the match.
Michael’s finishing was the difference, but a special mention goes to Thanawat Gaweenuntawong, who hit a fantastic five 140s.
It’s Greece’s first time in the second round in their second appearance, while Thailand are still winless in four World Cups.
The first 180 of the 2017 tournament was hit by Royden Lam, who helped Hong Kong to a thrilling run to the quarter-final in 2015, but it was Russia who went through on this occasion.
It was also the first time they’ve reached the second round since all the way back in the inaugural 2010 World Cup.
The confident Boris Koltsov lead the way with some fine finishing, which included a 110 checkout to break early, and he was very ably assisted by unorthodox thrower Aleksandr Oreshkin, who hit a number of big scores.
In yet another close encounter, but much higher-averaging affair, the Republic of Ireland edged out Poland to reach the second stage for the sixth time in seven appearances – though they’ve never gone further.
William O’Connor has played in all of them, but it was the older Mick McGowan who produced the goods with some top scoring in particular.
Poland boasted in-form Krzysztof Ratajski and Tytus Kanik, who hit a fabulous 144 checkout, and at one stage it looked as though they would be going through being a break up when 3-2 ahead.
Spain looked down and out in their match with Japan too, and were very below their usual standards, but eventually ground out a win much to their relief – more than joy it seemed.
Japan’s ever-present World Cup player Haruki Muramatsu showed his class throughout, and debutant Yuki Yamada, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself, played very consistently too – even hitting a maximum.
But Muramatsu crucially missed three darts to set up a deciding set, and 2010 semi-finalists Spain go through to the second round, after narrowly going out to eventual champions England last year, despite out-averaging them.
The first seeded team of the night Belgium took to the oche next in Frankfurt, Germany, and made relatively light work of New Zealand, who now face a huge trip back home.
It was a nervy start by both nations, but Kim Huybrechts produced the performance of the night up to this point to guide his side to the second round for the sixth year in succession.
Half-brother Ronny took a longer to get going, but eventually found his aim to round off the match, while Kiwi pair Cody Harris and Rob Szabo’s performances diminished.
While the previous match started in shaky fashion, it was the end of the Australia v Denmark battle that became very nervy.
An off-key and apparently injured (wrist) Simon Whitlock had to be carried by Kyle Anderson for much of the match, and the latter ultimately hit the winning double in a deciding leg to see them beat the Scandinavian nation for the second year running.
Danish veteran Per Laursen looked as though he’d lead his team into the second round at one stage, but missed a dart on double 16 to do so.
Many expected top seeds Scotland to win this year’s World Cup of Darts, but veteran Paul Lim had other ideas as he opened with a 180 and finished the first leg against throw by hitting double 10.
Singapore broke Anderson and Wright twice more, including the final leg, with the elder Lim taking out a fine 100 finish to win 5-2 and send shockwaves throughout the rest of the field.
Wales were nearly victims of that after-effect, and survived two match darts against Finland to scrape through to the last 16.
Former BDO world champion Mark Webster may have been the more experienced player of the British team, who at one stage had seven perfect darts on the board, but he has much to thank 2017 UK Open runner-up Gerwyn Price for.
Price really kept Wales in the match with great scoring, though it was Webster that finally kept his cool at the end to hit double 5 with his last dart in hand.
Thailand 3-5 Greece
Hong Kong 3-5 Russia
Republic of Ireland 5-3 Poland
Japan 3-5 Spain
Belgium 5-2 New Zealand
Australia 6-5 Denmark
Scotland 2-5 Singapore
Wales 5-4 Finland
Top half second round fixtures
Afternoon session – Saturday (2pm local time, 1pm BST)
Belgium v Greece
Wales v Republic of Ireland
Australia v Russia
Singapore v Spain