STEVE BEATON rolled back the years once again to knock out World Champion Rob Cross in round one of the Unibet World Grand Prix in Dublin.
Former semi-finalist Beaton dropped just one leg as he ran out a comfortable 2-0 winner, dumping out the world number three in the opening round of the double-start event for a second successive year.
Making his 15th appearance at the Citywest Convention Centre, the 54-year-old proved more clinical on both starting and finishing doubles to seal his passage to the last 16 of the £400,000 tournament.
“Knowing I’d beaten him at this stage last year was an advantage for me, I was determined to win again,” said Beaton, who will take on Gerwyn Price in round two.
“We had a bit of banter in the practice room that the last time I beat him here he went on to become World Champion!
“It sounds strange to say it but Rob is more experienced than me at the moment, in terms of his big stage play in 2018 so that makes the win all the more satisfying.”
Superior scoring saw passionate Welshman Price roar his way to a 2-0 win over debutant Danny Noppert.
Having wrapped up the opening set, the world number 12 became embroiled in a second set battle as Noppert missed two darts to take the tie to a deciding set before Price punished with double five to finish the job.
The game of the evening saw former runner-up Adrian Lewis edge past Michael Smith in a high-class encounter which saw 13 maximums thrown between the pair.
Lewis took the opening set before Smith fought back to level and set up a tense third set. The tie looked set to go all the way to a deciding leg, only for Smith to miss three darts at double 12 before the two-time World Champion punished him with a 45 checkout.
“I felt a bit edgy towards the end so I’m glad to get over the line in that one,” said Lewis, a Dublin finalist in 2010.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game, Michael has been playing well for a few years now, so it’s a big confidence-booster for me to get through that one.
“If I can get my pace of play right then I know I will be able to march back up the rankings, back into the top four in the world where I feel I belong.”
Lewis will meet James Wilson in the second round after the Yorkshireman battled his way to a hard-fought 2-1 win over last year’s runner-up Simon Whitlock.
Defeats for Whitlock and Cross made it six years since all eight seeded players survived the opening round, but number two seed Peter Wright had no such problems in his 2-0 whitewash of Steve West.
The Scot was in ruthless mood as he produced the performance of the night, averaging 98.02 and denying West a dart at a finishing double to begin his quest for a first Dublin title.
“It was a really tough game as I knew it would be, Steve has beaten some of the best players in the world on TV,” said Wright.
“I knew I had to be on top of my game because if I wasn’t then I would’ve been going out early doors.
“Last year I was disappointed to go out at the quarter-final stage but this year I feel ready to go two steps further.”
Wright will now meet Dutch debutant Jermaine Wattimena, who took no time to adjust to the double-start format, missing just two darts at a starting double as he blew away former finalist Mervyn King 2-0.
Mensur Suljovic reached the semi-finals of last year’s tournament and continued his good form on the Dublin stage as he cruised to a 2-0 victory over two-time winner James Wade.
The Austrian will now take on world number ten Ian White, who staved off a late Josh Payne rally to defeat the debutant 2-0.
The Unibet World Grand Prix continues on Tuesday with four second round games, which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports and worldwide through the PDC’s series of international broadcast partners, as well as at PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers.
Following his impressive display, Wright is now the 5/1 joint second-favourite with sponsors Unibet for success at the Citywest Convention Centre.
Michael van Gerwen, who takes on Darren Webster on Tuesday, is the 11/10 favourite, while World Matchplay winner Gary Anderson, who plays Jeffrey de Zwaan, is also rated 5/1 as he aims for a maiden double-start title.
Unibet World Grand Prix
Monday October 1
Jermaine Wattimena 2-0 Mervyn King
Ian White 2-0 Josh Payne
Gerwyn Price 2-0 Danny Noppert
Peter Wright 2-0 Steve West
Steve Beaton 2-0 Rob Cross
Mensur Suljovic 2-0 James Wade
James Wilson 2-1 Simon Whitlock
Adrian Lewis 2-1 Michael Smith
Tuesday October 2 (7pm)
Dave Chisnall v Raymond van Barneveld
Gary Anderson v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Daryl Gurney v Ron Meulenkamp
Michael van Gerwen v Darren Webster
Wednesday October 3 (7pm)
Mensur Suljovic v Ian White
Steve Beaton v Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright v Jermaine Wattimena
James Wilson v Adrian Lewis
Unibet World Grand Prix
Outright Winner Odds
11/10 Michael van Gerwen
5/1 Gary Anderson, Peter Wright
10/1 Mensur Suljovic
18/1 Adrian Lewis
22/1 Daryl Gurney
28/1 Jeffrey de Zwaan, Raymond van Barneveld
33/1 Gerwyn Price, Ian White
50/1 Dave Chisnall, Steve Beaton
80/1 Darren Webster, James Wilson
100/1 Jermaine Wattimena
125/1 Ron Meulenkamp
Tuesday Match Odds
Dave Chisnall 11/10 v Raymond van Barneveld 8/11
Gary Anderson 4/11 v Jeffrey de Zwaan 21/10
Daryl Gurney 2/5 v 2/1 Ron Meulenkamp
Michael van Gerwen 2/13 v 9/2 Darren Webster