Michael van Gerwen will meet Michael Smith in the last 16 of the 2020 Belgian Darts Championship, as host nation hopes were ended in Hasselt on Saturday.
Both Van Gerwen and Smith saw off Belgian opponents to set up Sunday afternoon’s exciting opening third round match.
World number one van Gerwen missed double 12 for a nine-darter in the final leg of his 6-3 victory over Mike De Decker, while Smith enjoyed a 6-1 win against Ronny Huybrechts.
Belgian number one Dimitri Van Den Bergh came the closest out of his countrymen to reaching the final day but lost out 6-5 to Jamie Hughes, while Kim Huybrechts was beaten 6-4 by Dutch ace Jeffrey de Zwaan.
Danny Noppert produced the performance of the second round as he averaged 108.96 in a 6-2 success over fellow Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena.
Noppert hit five 180s in an outstanding display to reach the last 16, where he will meet World Champion Peter Wright.
Wright was below his best but was untroubled by Andy Hamilton as the Scotsman went on to complete a comfortable 6-2 win.
Noppert’s fellow Dutch talents Dirk van Duijvenbode and Martijn Kleermaker also progressed to the final day with victories against seeded opposition.
Van Duijvenbode moved into the last 16 of a European Tour event for the first time after defeating number two seed Ian White 6-3, while Kleermaker reached the third round stage on his first attempt with a 6-3 success over Joe Cullen.
Kleermaker’s last 16 opponent will be Mervyn King, who produced a stunning performance to defeat number eight seed Glen Durrant 6-4 with an average of 105.98.
Mensur Suljovic defeated Ryan Searle 6-4 in an entertaining encounter, which saw the pair share four three-figure finishes – including checkouts of 170 and 145 by Searle despite defeat.
Steve West will face Suljovic on Sunday after defying a 104.14 average from Jonny Clayton in a 6-2 success over the Welshman.
Gerwyn Price made light work of Dutch qualifier Wesley Plaisier, who completed a fabulous 154 checkout in the only leg he won against the world number three.
Polish star Krzysztof Ratajski kicked off his 2020 European Tour campaign with a 6-2 triumph over Germany’s Gabriel Clemens.
Ratajski will take on Rob Cross in round three after the 2019 European Champion eased past Australia’s Damon Heta 6-1.
James Wade defeated Steve Lennon 6-3 to set up a third round clash with Nathan Aspinall, who produced a pivotal 167 checkout in a 6-3 victory over Steve Beaton.
The Belgian Darts Championship concludes with two sessions on Sunday March 1, with live streaming on PDCTV, as well as through a series of bookmakers’ websites worldwide.
Sunday afternoon will see the remaining 16 players battle it out for places in the evening session, which hosts the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final -where the winner will earn £25,000.
2020 Belgian Darts Championship
Saturday February 29
Michael Smith 6-1 Ronny Huybrechts
Martijn Kleermaker 6-3 Joe Cullen
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Gabriel Clemens
Mervyn King 6-4 Glen Durrant
Rob Cross 6-1 Damon Heta
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3 Ian White
Danny Noppert 6-2 Jermaine Wattimena
James Wade 6-3 Steve Lennon
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Steve Beaton
Gerwyn Price 6-1 Wesley Plaisier
Peter Wright 6-2 Andy Hamilton
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Mike De Decker
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-4 Kim Huybrechts
Jamie Hughes 6-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 Ryan Searle
Steve West 6-2 Jonny Clayton