Michael van Gerwen had to survive a scare and four match-darts against Kyle Anderson on day one of the New Zealand Darts Masters presented by Burger King and TAB, setting up another quarter-final clash with Gary Anderson in the process.
The PDC’s first trip to the Claudelands Arena in Hamilton also saw New Zealander Ben Robb defeat Simon Whitlock to progress to the last eight.
The story of the night came from the penultimate game of the session though, as Anderson missed four opportunities to defeat world number one van Gerwen.
Anderson, who won the corresponding event in Auckland in 2017, started the better of the two in what was a sloppy beginning to the match but missed darts to go 3-0 up and was punished by Van Gerwen who tied it up at 2-2.
The pair then traded holds of throw, with the Dutchman taking out 164 in the ninth leg to take the game to a decider.
The drama then came in the eleventh with Anderson missing four darts to end a nine-match losing streak to the World Champion who progressed on double ten.
“I’m not proud of anything I did today. I feel sorry for everyone who is watching because I let myself down tonight and I always want to put on a show for everyone in the crowd and watching at home.
“I made so many mistakes tonight but I will be back tomorrow and play much better than this.”
The Premier League champion will now face Gary Anderson in a repeat of their quarter-final encounter a week earlier in Melbourne, which saw Van Gerwen come out the victor.
Anderson booked his spot in the last eight having to battle through toothache to overcome Haupai Puha.
The Scot who had been suffering during the day still managed to see off his New Zealand opponent in a 6-3 win.
Ben Robb became only the second man from New Zealand to win on his home stage on the World Series after beating Simon Whitlock 6-4.
Mark McGrath was the first in 2018, when he defeated Michael Smith in Auckland and Robb repeated the feat a year later.
Whitlock began the stronger of the pair, breaking in the second leg for a 2-0 lead, but a run of four consecutive legs put Robb firmly in control.
Whitlock did manage to draw level again though, courtesy of a 127 finish before the Kiwi took out 16 and 80 to seal the win.
“Two weeks ago I didn’t play my game at all,” Robb said.
“It feels like all that hard work has paid off. All that practice that no one sees, when everyone else is in bed and I am working hard. am just glad to have done it in front of my friends and family.”
Robb will now face Rob Cross in the quarter-finals after the former World Champion averaged 99.84 in his 6-2 victory over Warren Parry.
Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld began his final competitive tournament in New Zealand with a 6-5 victory over home favourite Cody Harris, surviving a match-dart at the bull to progress.
Poor finishing was the story in the first half of the match but two moments of quality took the game all the way to the deciding leg.
First Van Barneveld took out 161 to move 5-4 up and seemingly on his way to the last eight but Harris then produced a moment of magic of his own, checking out 150 to level at 5-5.
The New Zealander began the deciding leg with a 180 but wasn’t able to capitalise as he missed a dart at the bullseye before Van Barneveld pinned double 16 for a dramatic win.
“Wow, that was tough,” said Van Barneveld after the game.
“After going up 3-1 I just kept missing and missing and gave him a chance.
“After the 161 I felt good and thought I had the match but he hit the amazing 150 finish. I am just very happy to get the win and come back tomorrow.
I want to give the crowd a lot more against Daryl on Saturday, they have been amazing to me this year.”
The Dutch ace will now take on Daryl Gurney after the world number three raced in to a 5-0 lead against former World Championship qualifier David Platt before eventually getting over the line in a 6-2 win.
James Wade produced a superb comeback to recover from 5-3 down and beat Craig Caldwell to claim a spot in the quarter-finals in Hamilton.
Caldwell, who was beaten by Wade in the 2015 Sydney Darts Masters, set the early pace and took out 142 in the second leg to delight the Hamilton crowd.
The first break came in the fifth leg with Caldwell punishing Wade for some poor scoring and missing a dart at double.
However, at 5-3 and with the New Zealander sat on 96, Wade took out 116 on double 18 to hold throw.
A break followed in the next leg with the Englishman pinning double ten for a 140 finish to level the match, before going on to find tops to move in to a quarter-final match with Peter Wright who convincingly defeated Brisbane champion Damon Heta 6-1.
“I’ve got to be better tomorrow against Peter but I feel like I’ve been a little unlucky with the qualifiers this trip. They keep hitting big checkouts against me at the right times,” joked Wade after the win.
“Fair play to Damon over the last couple of weeks he deserved to win and today I had to dig deep to get the win. The guys over here are improving every year.”
Wright though, despite the convincing 6-1 scoreline against Heta, was unhappy with his performance.
“I struggled, I wasn’t playing Damon, I was playing myself.
“I was trying a new set of darts out but I felt confident taking a new set of darts up on stage but for some reason the trebles looked really small.
“I probably need to play someone who is hitting lots of 180s and doubles to get the best out of me. I just kept saying to myself why are you playing this bad?”
The final day of the 2019 NZ Darts Masters will take place at the Claudelands Arena in Hamilton on Saturday with a limited number of tickets still available via this link.
The event will be broadcast worldwide through the PDC’s international broadcast partners, as well as via PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers (outside of the UK, Ireland & Netherlands).
UK TV coverage on ITV4 will be from 7pm BST on each day.
2019 NZ Darts Masters, presented by Burger King & TAB
(1) Peter Wright v Damon Heta
James Wade v Craig Caldwell
(4) Daryl Gurney v David Platt
Raymond van Barneveld v Cody Harris
(2) Michael van Gerwen v Kyle Anderson
Gary Anderson v Haupai Puha
(3) Rob Cross v Warren Parry
Simon Whitlock v Ben Robb
Schedule of Play
Friday, August 23 (1800 local time)
James Wade 6-5 Craig Caldwell
Ben Robb 6-4 Simon Whitlock
Daryl Gurney 6-2 David Platt
Rob Cross 6-2 Warren Parry
Gary Anderson 6-3 Haupai Puha
Peter Wright 6-1 Damon Heta
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Kyle Anderson
Raymond van Barneveld 6-5 Cody Harris
Best of 11 legs
Saturday, August 24 (1800 local time)
Peter Wright v James Wade
Daryl Gurney v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson
Rob Cross v Ben Robb
All best of 15 legs