Brothers Rowby-John and Rusty-Jake Rodriguez were amongst three home favourites to win through to the second round of the Austrian Darts Championship on a dramatic opening day of the PDC European Tour event in Vienna.
The £140,000 tournament at the Multiversum Schwechat began with 16 first round ties on Friday, with the Rodriguez brothers holding their nerve alongside Dietmar Burger to join fellow Austrian Mensur Suljovic – one of the 16 seeds – in the last 32.
Rowby-John won a tense battle of former World Youth Championship finalists against Josh Payne 6-5, coming from 4-1 down to lead 5-4 before surviving three missed match darts in the deciding leg.
He pinned double 16, to the delight of his home crowd, to set up a second round tie with Daryl Gurney.
Younger brother Rusty-Jake had earlier defeated Development Tour Order of Merit leader Ted Evetts 6-3, with the 18-year-old former JDC Junior World Champion now playing number two seed Ian White.
Burger, meanwhile, landed six doubles from seven attempts in a fine 6-3 win over Norway’s Cor Dekker to set up a clash with Dave Chisnall, this year’s Danish Darts Open winner.
Hannes Schnier came agonisingly close to being a fourth Austrian to win through to the second round before losing out 6-5 to former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown.
Brown led 5-3 before the Host Nation Qualifier took out 120 to save the game and 155 to force a decider, but an 89 finish moved the Isle of Wight ace through to face UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall.
The other two Austrian qualifiers, Alex Steinbauer and Christian Goedl, also suffered defeat as they went down to Kirk Shepherd and Jeffrey de Zwaan respectively.
Shepherd’s 6-4 win over Steinbauer set up a tie with Ricky Evans, while De Zwaan now takes on Darren Webster after pulling clear from two-all to see off Goedl 6-3, missing double 12 for a nine-dart finish in the game’s final leg.
The opening day’s most impressive display came from Czech teenager Adam Gawlas, as the 17-year-old qualifier celebrated his European Tour debut with a 6-5 win over Ross Smith, surviving two missed match darts from the UK Open quarter-finalist.
Gawlas, 17, won through last weekend’s East Europe Qualifier and has only been playing for six months, but impressed with finishes of 88 on the bull, 108 and a 14-darter as he shared the opening six legs.
Smith produced superb legs of 12 and ten darts to move 5-3 up, with Gawlas responding with legs of 14 and 13 darts to force a decider before capitalising on his opponent’s two misses at double 16 to hit the same bed for victory.
Luke Humphries produced an impressive 12-darter in the deciding leg of his tie against June’s Czech Darts Open winner Jamie Hughes, and he now meets Joe Cullen on Saturday.
World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh recorded the day’s highest average of almost 102 as he saw off Mark Webster 6-3, securing a clash with Peter Wright in round two.
Fellow Belgian Mike De Decker edged out Chris Dobey 6-5 and now plays Jonny Clayton, while German youngster Christian Bunse’s reward for a deciding-leg win over Jermaine Wattimena is a tie against two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis.
Australia’s Kyle Anderson set up a second-round clash with World Champion Michael van Gerwen by seeing off Stephen Bunting 6-4, with the former Lakeside Champion battling back from 2-0 down to level and 5-2 down to threaten to take the tie to a decider.
Vincent van der Voort won the meeting between former Austrian Darts Open winners against Justin Pipe 6-4 to create a second round clash with Simon Whitlock, and James Wilson meets Steve Beaton following a 6-3 win over Derry’s Gavin Carlin.
Cameron Menzies’ reward for a 6-1 defeat of Germany’s Kevin Munch is a tie against World Championship finalist Michael Smith, while Brendan Dolan now takes on Grand Slam of Darts winner Gerwyn Price following a 6-4 defeat of William O’Connor.
Following Saturday’s second round, the tournament concludes on Sunday with the third round in the afternoon session before the decisive quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in the evening session.
The Austrian Darts Championship will be broadcast through PDCTV-HD at video.pdc.tv for all subscribers worldwide, as well as through a series of bookmakers’ websites.
2019 Austrian Darts Championship
August 30-September 1, Multiversum Schwechat, Vienna
Friday August 30
Brendan Dolan 6-4 William O’Connor
James Wilson 6-2 Gavin Carlin
Adam Gawlas 6-5 Ross Smith
Rusty-Jake Rodriguez 6-3 Ted Evetts
Cameron Menzies 6-1 Kevin Munch
Dietmar Burger 6-3 Cor Dekker
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Justin Pipe
Christian Bunse 6-5 Jermaine Wattimena
Kirk Shepherd 6-4 Alex Steinbauer
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-3 Mark Webster
Luke Humphries 6-5 Jamie Hughes
Keegan Brown 6-5 Hannes Schnier
Mike De Decker 6-5 Chris Dobey
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-5 Josh Payne
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-3 Christian Goedl
Kyle Anderson 6-4 Stephen Bunting
Saturday August 31
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Steve Beaton v James Wilson
Simon Whitlock v Vincent van der Voort
Gerwyn Price v Brendan Dolan
Dave Chisnall v Dietmar Burger
Ricky Evans v Kirk Shepherd
Michael Smith v Cameron Menzies
Ian White v Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Adrian Lewis v Christian Bunse
Evening Session (1915 local time, 1815 BST)
Nathan Aspinall v Keegan Brown
Daryl Gurney v Rowby-John Rodriguez
Jonny Clayton v Mike De Decker
Peter Wright v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Mensur Suljovic v Adam Gawlas
Joe Cullen v Luke Humphries
Michael van Gerwen v Kyle Anderson
Darren Webster v Jeffrey de Zwaan
All games best of 11 legs