Five former champions were eliminated on a hectic opening day of the 2021 Ladbrokes UK Open in Milton Keynes on Friday as two-nine-darters were landed and history was made by Lisa Ashton.
Day One of the multi-board tournament saw the opening four rounds take place across two session, with the 151 players whittled down to 32 after play across eight stages simultaneously.
Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen made it safely through to Saturday afternoon’s fifth round with a hard-fought 10-8 win over Scott Mitchell, while world number one Gerwyn Price cruised through with a 10-5 defeat of Peter Hudson.
It was a less straightforward evening for 2017 UK Open winner Peter Wright, who continued his slow start to 2021 in going down 10-5 to Dave Chisnall.
Two-time champion Raymond van Barneveld’s return to a televised PDC stage ended in a 6-3 defeat at the hands of impressive Scottish debutant Alan Soutar in round two, who followed up with victories over Mickey Mansell and Stephen Bunting as he moved into the last 32.
Nathan Aspinall made his big breakthrough at the 2019 event, but was left disappointed following a 10-5 loss to Krzysztof Ratajski, who averaged 102.6 in a clinical display.
2018 champion Gary Anderson and 2014 winner Adrian Lewis also fell at the first hurdle at the hands of Dirk van Duijvenbode and Ryan Searle respectively, both of whom averaged over 100.
Van Gerwen is joined by James Wade as the only former winners remaining in the tournament after the 2008 and 2011 champion came through a last-leg decider against Ryan Joyce.
Rising star John Brown is the last player standing from those who started in round one on Friday morning as the £450,000 tournament began.
The 21-year-old son of fellow-Tour Card Holder Steve Brown has enjoyed a dream debut so far with triumphs over Gavin Carlin, Nathan Rafferty, Chas Barstow and Mark McGeeney.
The afternoon session saw the first three rounds take place on a typically dramatic opening session of the annual festival of darts, before an open draw was conducted for the fourth round.
Two nine-darters were hit in the opening two rounds, firstly by 17-year-old Polish debutant Sebastian Bialecki in his round one win over Jim McEwan, before Dutchman Jitse van der Wal achieved perfection against Bialecki in a second round defeat.
History was made by Lisa Ashton on the Main Stage, as the four-time Women’s World Champion averaged 100.3, the highest ever recorded by a woman in a televised event, in a 6-2 win over Aaron Beeney.
It was also Ashton’s first win on a TV stage in the PDC and the first victory for a woman in the tournament since Deta Hedman achieved the feat in 2005, although he progress was later halted by Darius Labanauskas in the third round.
The draw for the fifth round was made live on the Main Stage at the conclusion of Friday night’s action, with Van Gerwen to continue his title defence against Mensur Suljovic.
That game is pencilled in to take place on the Main Stage, along with Price against Ricky Evans, Michael Smith’s meeting with Grand Slam champion Jose de Sousa and 2019 finalist Rob Cross’ tie with Wade.
Meanwhile on Stage Two, Brown will look to continue his fairytale run against Chris Dobey and in-form players collide as Masters winner Jonny Clayton faces Van Duijvenbode, the 2020 World Grand Prix finalist.
At the conclusion of the fifth round, the draw will be made for the sixth round – which will take place on Saturday evening across two stages.
Sunday’s final day of play will see the remaining eight players return to compete for the £100,000 title.
2021 Ladbrokes UK Open
Friday March 5
Martin Schindler 6-5 Berry van Peer
Danny Baggish 6-3 Brett Claydon
Kirk Shepherd 6-3 Gordon Mathers
Boris Koltsov 6-1 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Jim Williams 6-5 Zoran Lerchbacher
Geert Nentjes 6-5 Richie Burnett
Rhys Griffin 6-5 Sean Fisher
Nathan Rafferty 6-3 Matt Jackson
Kevin McDine 6-5 Keelan Kay
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-4 Brian Raman
Niels Zonneveld 6-2 Geert De Vos
Maikel Verberk 6-4 Martin Lukeman
Scott Taylor 6-4 John Michael
Jack Main 6-2 Shane McGuirk
Jason Heaver 6-2 Lorenzo Pronk
Lewis Williams 6-3 Luc Peters
Sebastian Bialecki 6-2 Jim McEwan – Sebastian Bialecki hits nine-dart finish
Chas Barstow 6-4 Lukas Wenig
Joe Murnan 6-2 Matthew Dennant
Kevin Doets 6-3 Joe Davis
Gino Vos 6-4 Adam Gawlas
Damian Mol 6-4 Ritchie Edhouse
Dom Taylor 6-5 Jake Jones
Peter Hudson 6-1 Ryan De Vreede
John Brown 6-3 Gavin Carlin
Byes: Robert Collins, David Evans, Andrew Gilding, Michael Rasztovits, Martin Thomas, Scott Mitchell, Jitse van der Wal.
Lisa Ashton 6-2 Aaron Beeney
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-4 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Alan Soutar 6-3 Raymond van Barneveld
Keane Barry v Geert Nentjes
Martin Atkins 6-3 Bradley Brooks
Martijn Kleermaker 6-3 Wayne Jones
Scott Mitchell 6-5 Lewis Williams
Ciaran Teehan 6-5 Danny Baggish
Nick Kenny 6-5 Ryan Meikle
Martin Schindler 6-1 Jeff Smith
Andy Hamilton 6-5 Damian Mol
Jim Williams 6-1 Kirk Shepherd
Peter Jacques 6-2 Michael Rasztovits
Peter Hudson 6-1 Jesus Noguera
Scott Waites Bye (Steve Brown timed out)
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-3 Kevin McDine
David Evans 6-4 Steffen Siepmann
Derk Telnekes 6-2 Niels Zonneveld
Gino Vos 6-5 Alan Tabern
Kai Fan Leung 6-3 Joe Murnan
Andrew Gilding 6-1 Jon Worsley
Jack Main 6-4 Robert Collins
Rhys Griffin 6-4 Mike De Decker
Scott Taylor 6-5 Maikel Verberk
Karel Sedlacek 6-0 Harald Leitinger
Gary Blades 6-0 Dom Taylor
John Brown 6-5 Nathan Rafferty
Chas Barstow 6-1 Martin Thomas
Krzysztof Kciuk 6-2 Ryan Murray
Kevin Doets 6-4 William Borland
Sebastian Bialecki 6-3 Jitse van der Wal – Jitse van der Wal hits nine-dart finish
Eddie Lovely 6-5 Jason Heaver
Max Hopp 6-3 William O’Connor
David Evans 6-1 Damon Heta
Alan Soutar 6-3 Mickey Mansell
Mark McGeeney 6-5 Steve Beaton
Callan Rydz 6-5 Ross Smith
Darius Labanauskas 6-2 Lisa Ashton
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Krzysztof Kciuk
Keegan Brown 6-1 James Wilson
Scott Waites 6-4 Martin Atkins
Luke Woodhouse 6-2 Keane Barry
Adam Hunt 6-0 Scott Taylor
Ron Meulenkamp 6-2 Eddie Lovely
Kai Fan Leung 6-5 Nick Kenny
Madars Razma 6-2 Jim Williams
Jason Lowe 6-1 Steve West
Andy Boulton 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Steve Lennon 6-4 Kevin Doets
Karel Sedlacek 6-0 Rhys Griffin
Peter Jacques 6-1 Ciaran Teehan
John Henderson 6-5 Matt Edgar
Andy Hamilton 6-1 Gary Blades
Martijn Kleermaker 6-5 Martin Schindler
John Brown 6-3 Chas Barstow
Brendan Dolan 6-1 Maik Kuivenhoven
Peter Hudson 6-1 Gino Vos
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-5 Josh Payne
Darren Webster 6-4 Ted Evetts
Ryan Searle 6-5 Jack Main
Scott Mitchell 6-3 Andrew Gilding
Sebastian Bialecki 6-3 Derk Telnekes
Byes: Ryan Joyce, Luke Humphries
Daryl Gurney 10-8 Jason Lowe
Ryan Searle 10-7 Adrian Lewis
Max Hopp 10-6 Vincent van der Voort
John Brown 10-6 Mark McGeeney
Callan Rydz 10-6 Jermaine Wattimena
Jonny Clayton 10-7 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Darius Labanauskas 10-5 Darren Webster
Michael Smith 10-9 Joe Cullen
James Wade 10-9 Ryan Joyce
Michael van Gerwen 10-8 Scott Mitchell
Gerwyn Price 10-5 Peter Hudson
Ricky Evans 10- 7 Ian White
Alan Soutar 10-5 Stephen Bunting
Brendan Dolan 10-7 Kai Fan Leung
Dave Chisnall 10-5 Peter Wright
Rob Cross 10-8 Andy Hamilton
Martijn Kleermaker 10-8 Jamie Hughes
Simon Whitlock 10-7 Karel Sedlacek
Krzysztof Ratajski 10-5 Nathan Aspinall
Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-9 Gary Anderson
Devon Petersen 10-5 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Luke Woodhouse 10-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Peter Jacques 10-9 Andy Boulton
Mensur Suljovic 10-6 Sebastian Bialecki
Gabriel Clemens 10-4 Adam Hunt
José de Sousa 10-9 Mervyn King
Ron Meulenkamp 10-7 Steve Lennon
Madars Razma 10-6 David Evans
Scott Waites 10-6 Keegan Brown
Chris Dobey 10-6 John Henderson
Danny Noppert 10-6 Glen Durrant
Luke Humphries 10-8 Kim Huybrechts
Saturday March 6
Afternoon Session (1230 GMT start)
Rob Cross v James Wade
Gerwyn Price v Ricky Evans
Michael Smith v Jose de Sousa
Michael van Gerwen v Mensur Suljovic
Darius Labanauskas v Simon Whitlock
Daryl Gurney v Gabriel Clemens
Chris Dobey v John Brown
Jonny Clayton v Dirk van Duijvenbode
Luke Humphries v Ryan Searle
Callan Rydz v Martijn Kleermaker
Alan Soutar v Ron Meulenkamp
Luke Woodhouse v Brendan Dolan
Peter Jacques v Max Hopp
Scott Waites v Devon Petersen
Krzysztof Ratajski v Madars Razma
Dave Chisnall v Danny Noppert
Evening Session (1900 GMT start)
Main Stage & Stage Two
Sunday March 7
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT start)
Evening Session (1900 GMT start)
Semi-Finals & Final