Wednesday was the first of five successive days of competition at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes
Last Updated: 08/07/20 9:42pm
Michael van Gerwen beat Peter Wright to emerge victorious from the first day of competitive darts since mid-March, while all players in the PDC Summer Series field returned a negative test for Covid-19.
Just over six months on from an Alexandra Palace showdown that saw Wright claim the first world title of his career, the two best players in the world again battled it out in a high-class final on Day One in Milton Keynes.
This time, in darts’ first competitive tournament since the coronavirus pandemic, it was the world No 1 who prevailed as Van Gerwen fought off a ‘Snakebite’ comeback to pinch a last-leg decider for an 8-7 victory and claim the £10,000 first prize.
Van Gerwen did not play in any of the recent online tournaments, and did not feature in the PDC’s Home Tour, as he took the time for a break and to be with his second child, who was born earlier this year. In a recent interview with The Darts Show podcast he fired a warning that he would be back better than ever, and he was as good as his word.
The Dutchman had won his first title of the year at the UK Open just before the world went into lockdown, and he picked up where he left off, averaging more than 100 in five of his seven matches, including his dramatic win over Wright in the final.
There were plenty of questions heading into the first of five days of action at the Marshall Arena and play was delayed by two-and-a-half hours until 2.30pm as the PDC awaited the results of Tuesday’s Covid-19 tests.
But, despite concerns about how players’ form may have been affected, some of the sport’s very best made their way through the field to leave a high-quality last eight which included Van Gerwen, Wright, Mensur Suljovic, Gabriel Clemens, Glen Durrant, Krzysztof Ratajski, Dave Chisnall and Danny Noppert.
Just before 1pm a PDC statement confirmed all 229 players, managers, officials and staff in attendance had returned a negative test and the action got under way, with the non-streamed boards featuring losing players scoring the following match.
All 229 tests confirmed negative. Took a little longer than expected but we start today at 1430.
Thanks for all your patience and kinds words – the players especially have been great and totally understanding of the situation.
— Matthew Porter (@MattPorter_PDC) July 8, 2020
Frustrating but out of our hands unfortunately – the results are processed in batches by a machine and until all have been done we aren’t able to receive any of the results. We have around 40 players still to receive their results. https://t.co/V57JdHHNwj
— Matthew Porter (@MattPorter_PDC) July 8, 2020
200+ tests all safely done and being processed now so we can get underway again here at the Marshall Arena tomorrow. Thanks to all the players for their patience and understanding of the system we’ve put in place and well done to our staff who guided them through it today
— Matthew Porter (@MattPorter_PDC) July 7, 2020
Everyone was tested with throat and nasal swabs on arrival at the Marshall Arena and held in quarantine while the results were processed, plenty taking to social media as they awaited the results via an envelope delivery through their hotel room.
They need to let me out this room soon or I’m ringing the fire brigade to get me out hurry up
— Darren Webster (@DEMOLITION180) July 8, 2020
When the action did start, Van Gerwen was the first man to register a win, beating Ciaran Teehan 6-1 before being quickly joined by James Wade, Wright, Durrant, Rob Cross and Michael Smith with early wins.
World no 3 Gerwyn Price survived match darts against Jelle Klaasen to come through, while Dave Chisnall joined Cross in chalking up the early 100+ averages. The only female Tour Card holder, Lisa Ashton, was beaten by Vincent van der Meer.
Nathan Aspinall, the PDC Home Tour champion, was the first big name to fall, suffering a 6-5 defeat to Niels Zonneveld to see his day one hopes over before some of the others had even begun. And he was joined by former world champions Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis, who also fell at the first hurdle.
Matt Clark accounted for Anderson, while Eddie Lovely saw off ‘Jackpot’ and two-time major winner Daryl Gurney was edged out by Andy Boulton in a last-leg decider as the first round came to a close.
Price’s day was halted in the second round by Martijn Kleermaker, who was another to impress during the Home Tour, while Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski and Premier League leader Durrant, both fresh from entering the world’s top 16, smashed in monster 107 averages to advance.
The pair were both to fall at the hands of Wright, who battled his way through to a showdown with Van Gerwen having also accounted for Cross, James Wilson, Dirk Telnekes and Ron Meulenkamp.
MVG for his part, also took out Clemens, Noppert, Jamie Hughes, Callan Rydz and William Borland after his first-round hammering of Teehan and both he and Snakebite produced some of their very best despite the three-month hiatus.
A thrilling contest saw Wright hit back from 5-2 down to move to the brink of victory with five straight legs, only for Van Gerwen to save the game before winning the deciding leg.
Summer Series 1 – Last 16 Results
|Last 16||Danny Noppert 6-3 Stephen Bunting|
|Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Jamie Hughes|
|Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Darren Webster|
|Gabriel Clemens 6-5 Steve Beaton|
|Peter Wright 6-2 Rob Cross|
|Glen Durrant 6-5 Jason Lowe|
|Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Eddie Lovely|
|Dave Chisnall 6-1 Ricky Evans|
|Quarter-Finals||Michael van Gerwen 6-0 Danny Noppert|
|Gabriel Clemens 6-2 Mensur Suljovic|
|Peter Wright 6-3 Glen Durrant|
|Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Dave Chisnall|
|Semi-Finals||Michael van Gerwen 7-3 Gabriel Clemens|
|Peter Wright 7-2 Krzysztof Ratajski|
|Final||Michael van Gerwen 8-7 Peter Wright|
The action continues on Thursday, with the second of the five Players Championship events that signal the resumption in play. Further down the rankings places are up for grabs at the World Matchplay and Rick Evans run to the last 16 took him into the final qualifying spot at the expense of Kim Huybrechts.
At the end of the five days the leader of an Order of Merit will also claim a place at the Grand Slam of darts, and it is a familiar face who sits top of the pile after the first day action following Van Gerwen’s blistering start.
Darts is back on Sky Sports in July, with nine days of coverage from the World Matchplay getting underway on Saturday, July 18, and every day until the final on Sunday, July 26.