DEFENDING CHAMPION James Wade was dumped out of the Sky Poker World Grand Prix on the opening night of the 2008 tournament by Tony Eccles.

World number three Wade claimed his second major title at the Citywest Hotel last year, but became the first big-name casualty of this year’s event with a 2-1 defeat to Eccles.

Wade, who hit a 160 finish in the opening set, missed two darts to take a straight sets victory before Eccles levelled and the won the decider with a 125 finish.

“I’ve won big tournaments around Europe during my career but that’s probably the biggest win on TV for me,” said Eccles.

“This was my first time in this format and I didn’t know what to expect but I got into a zone and concentrated on my own game.”

Wade admitted: “I had more than enough chances and it’s disappointing to lose.”

World number two Raymond van Barneveld made his comeback from a two-month break with a 2-1 win over Alan Tabern.

The Dutchman had not played competitively before travelling to Ireland since a disappointing World Matchplay campaign in July, but blew off the cobwebs with a strong display, including a 127 checkout on the bullseye to seal victory.

Two-time World Champion Dennis Priestley, who had not played during September whilst undergoing radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer, took a 2-0 win over Denis Ovens to book his place in the second round.

Colin Lloyd bounced back from first-game defeats in the last three majors to see off Vincent van der Voort in a deciding set, and now meets Kevin Painter in round two.

Painter booked his place in the last 16 with a 2-0 win over Mark Dudbridge, with Wayne Mardle overcoming Northern Ireland’s Felix McBrearty by the same scoreline.

Adrian Lewis sealed a three-set win over Roland Scholten with a 119 finish to set up a second round meeting with van Barneveld on Wednesday.

2008 Sky Poker World Grand Prix
Monday October 6
Tony Eccles 2-1 James Wade
Dennis Priestley 2-0 Denis Ovens
Mervyn King 2-1 Wayne Jones
Colin Lloyd 2-1 Vincent van der Voort
Raymond van Barneveld 2-1 Alan Tabern
Wayne Mardle 2-0 Felix McBrearty
Kevin Painter 2-0 Mark Dudbridge
Adrian Lewis 2-1 Roland Scholten

Tuesday October 7 – First Round (6pm Start)
6.00pm Mark Walsh v Steve Beaton
6.40pm Andy Hamilton v Andy Smith
7.20pm John Part v Chris Mason
8.00pm Jacko Barry v Brendan Dolan
8.40pm Phil Taylor v Ronnie Baxter
9.20pm Robert Thornton v Peter Manley
10.00pm Terry Jenkins v Mick McGowan
10.40pm John MaGowan v Colin Osborne

(0-3, 3-2, 3-1)

TONY ECCLES dumped defending champion James Wade out of the Sky Poker World Grand Prix with a superb 2-1 victory in the tournament’s opening game.

Eccles was staring defeat in the face when Wade missed two darts to take a straight sets victory, only for the qualifier to battle back and claim the biggest televised win of his career.

Wade punished a slow start from Eccles, making his debut in the double-start format, to take the first set.

Eccles missed five darts at the opening double in the first leg, with Wade immediately into his stride to take a 1-0 lead before taking out a brilliant 160 finish with his opponent on a finish in the second.

Wade then landed a 174 score on his way to taking the set on double top for an ideal start.

Eccles led in the second, but a missed double 16 proved costly in the next leg, with Wade hitting a 177 to leave 24 before finishing on double six.

Eccles took leg three before Wade won the fourth to move a leg away from victory.

But the reigning champion missed two darts at double top to seal the win, and Eccles square the match on the same bed.

Eccles then took two successive legs to lead 2-0 in the decider, before Wade hit back with opening scores of 120 and 125 on his way to leg three.

But a missed double top gave Eccles his chance for victory, and he took out 125 to send the world number three packing.

“I’ve won big tournaments around Europe during my career but that’s probably the biggest win on TV for me,” said Eccles.

“This was my first time in this format and I didn’t know what to expect. I probably needed James to show me how to do it in that first leg – but I got into a zone and concentrated on my own game.

“To beat the defending champion is brilliant for me and I can build on this – although I’ve no idea who I play next! I only ever look at one game at once, so I’ll look at that later in the week.”

Wade said: “I had more than enough chances and it’s disappointing to lose, but Tony played better than me over the course of the game.

“I feel I’m playing well but it’s not quite happening for me on stage at the moment. I lost my focus a little bit and it cost me.”

(3-1, 3-1)

DENNIS PRIESTLEY opened his challenge in the Sky Poker World Grand Prix with a straight sets win over Denis Ovens.

The veteran Yorkshireman has made a strong return to the circuit after missing September to undergo radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer – winning Sunday’s Irish Players Championship and producing an assured display to reach the last 16 of the World Grand Prix.

Some solid starting on double top was allied to strong finishing on double ten during the course of the match.

Priestley opened the match with double ten to win the first and third legs, with Ovens levelling on double four but trailing in the fourth as Priestley took out double top for the opening set.

A 13-darter against the throw, and against an Ovens 180, put Priestley in front in set two, and he doubled the lead in 15 darts.

Ovens struck back on double ten, but Priestley sealed the win on tops.

(2-3, 3-1, 3-1)

MERVYN KING came from a set down to book his place in the second round of the Sky Poker World Grand Prix with a 2-1 win over Wayne Jones.

King will now take on Tony Eccles on Wednesday at the Citywest Hotel, following a resolute display against the former World Championship semi-finalist.

Jones came from 2-1 down to win the first set, with King missing five darts across two legs as the Wolverhampton man took the advantage.

Misses from Jones allowed King to lead in the second set, which he took 3-1 to send the match into a decider.

Double nine put Jones in front, but King landed a 180 in coming through to level, and made Jones pay for a missed double 16 for a 106 checkout by landing double 18 to lead 2-1.

Misses at double 16 and double eight in the next from Jones gave King his chance for victory, and he swiftly landed double eight to book his second round spot.

(3-0, 0-3, 3-0)

COLIN LLOYD banished his first round blues with a 2-1 win over Vincent van der Voort in the Sky Poker World Grand Prix.

Lloyd has fallen at the first hurdle this year in the UK Open, Las Vegas Desert Classic and World Matchplay, but gained a confidence-boosting win in Dublin.

The 2004 World Grand Prix winner enjoyed a successful night opening on double top, although missed doubles cost him the second set before he regained his touch to seal victory.

Van der Voort missed two darts to win the game’s opening leg, with Lloyd taking out double top to lead and then defying a maximum from the Dutchman to win the second leg on double nine.

Two further misses from van der Voort, on double 16, let Lloyd in to win the set on double top.

The second set took the opposite pattern, with Lloyd this time losing his range on the finishing doubles as the Dutchman took three successive legs.

Both failed to close out the opening leg before van der Voort hit double one, while Lloyd missed double darts in the second and a further seven in the next as the UK Open champion levelled matters.

But Lloyd landed double top to settle any nerves in the deciding set’s opener, and a missed dart for the bullseye in the next let the Englishman back in for double nine.

He trailed in the third leg, but a 180 put pressure on van der Voort, and two missed darts at double ten allowed Lloyd back to seal the win on double top.

(3-1, 0-3, 3-1)

RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD made a confidence-boosting return to the big stage with a 2-1 win over Alan Tabern in the Sky Poker World Grand Prix.

The Dutchman has had two months away from darts since a disappointing quarter-final loss at the World Matchplay.

However, he showed some of his most confident form of 2008 to book his place in the second round of the double-start tournament with a deciding set win.

After the first two legs of the opening set were shared, the Dutchman traded maximums with Tabern in the third before landing double ten to lead, and took the set on double top.

Tabern hit back to lead in the second set, and a 13-darter against the throw put him 2-0 up before he won the third leg to level matters.

Van Barneveld landed his third maximum of the game to lead in the decider, before double eight saw Tabern level.

However, the St Helens-based star missed the bullseye for a 167 finish in leg three, and a key double five put van Barneveld a leg away from victory.

He then sealed the win with a superb 127 checkout, finishing on the bullseye to seal his second round berth.

(3-2, 3-0)

WAYNE MARDLE overcame the challenge of newcomer Felix McBrearty to book his place in the second round of the Sky Poker World Grand Prix.

Northern Ireland’s McBrearty booked a debut on the big stage with victory in the Ireland Open Classic Players Championship in his home town of Dromore last month, and threatened another big upset when he started strongly at the Citywest Hotel.

He punished missed doubles from Mardle to win the first leg, and double top saw him level at two-all before Mardle sneaked the decider.

A nerve-settling double top put Mardle ahead in the second set, and a miss at the same bed from McBrearty in the next allowed the Englishman to move a leg away from victory.

Mardle, whose best run in the World Grand Prix came to the quarter-finals three years ago, then wrapped up the win on double eight to ensure a last 16 berth.

“I was so nervous before the game because I didn’t know what to expect,” said Mardle.

“As soon as I lost the first leg I was fine, I settled down pretty quickly and got through it and felt quite comfortable.

“Felix played pretty well but I was really pleased with my own performance. I’ve got Dennis Priestley next, which will be very tough because he’s playing some superb darts, but if I can get through that anything could happen this week.”

(3-1, 3-2)

KEVIN PAINTER defeated Mark Dudbridge in straight sets to progress to the second round of the Sky Poker World Grand Prix.

Painter now meets Colin Lloyd in Wednesday’s second round following a polished performance.

The pair shared the first two legs before missed doubles from Dudbridge allowed Painter to pull clear with back-to-back legs to take the first set.

The duo punished each other’s misses to also trade the first two legs in set two, before Dudbridge produced a fine third leg, opening with a 160 and taking out double top to lead 2-1.

Dudbridge landed a maximum in the fourth leg, but missed double 12 for a 144 finish to give Painter his chance, with double top levelling the set.

Dudbridge also missed two doubles to win the set’s deciding leg, allowing Painter to return to take out 111 for the match.

(3-2, 2-3, 3-1)

ADRIAN LEWIS edged a three-set thriller with Roland Scholten to move into round two of the Sky Poker World Grand Prix.

The Stoke youngster looked to have squandered his chance of victory when he wasted four match darts in the second set, allowing Scholten to level.

But he regained his composure to lead 2-0 in the decider before closing out the win.

Lewis took the game’s first two legs on double ten before Scholten, aided by an opening score of 160, took the third on double top and then levelled the set.

But two missed doubles in the decider cost the Dutchman, with Lewis landing double ten to lead.

Lewis also led 2-0 in the second set, but Scholten won the third leg on double four and then made the youngster pay for misses at double top, ten and two for the win to square the set on double 12.

Double ten gave Scholten the set in the deciding leg to send the match into the third set – only for Lewis to find an extra gear.

He landed a 180 in taking the first leg on double 16 and also score 177 in the second as he moved 2-0 up.

Double ten kept Scholten in the contest, but Lewis took out 119 to seal the win.

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