PAUL LIM caused a huge sensation at the William Hill World Darts Championship as the legendary 63-year-old defeated former Lakeside Champion Mark Webster in an epic first round clash on Monday night.
Lim is a huge name in darts thanks to his nine-dart heroics way back at the 1990 World Championship, but he rolled back the years to win a new generation of fans at Alexandra Palace with a thrilling 3-2 success over the Welshman.
The veteran had earlier beaten Kai Fan Leung 2-0 in the preliminary round, but few gave him a chance of returning and being able to live with a former World Champion on the big stage.
Lim made his first World Championship appearance way back in 1982 - before both Leung and Webster were born - but will not have played better as he hit six 180s and averaged 95.98 in a scintillating performance that had the Ally Pally crowd jumping.
It was always a tight affair, but the longer it went on the stronger Lim seemed to get, and Webster had to dig deep and take out some real pressure doubles to save himself in the fourth set and extend the match.
The first four sets all went the distance, with Lim missing a dart for the match in the fourth, but far from fading the veteran upped his performance in the deciding set, which he won 3-0 to set up a second round tie with Gary Anderson on Friday.
"It's been an unbelievable night," said Lim. "I could feel that the crowd were for me and it's so great to feel that.
"I know the PDC World Championship is the cream of all darts tournaments and to be part of it really is an honour. To play well with the crowd like that is a different story, I think the way the crowd were really played a part in me winning.
"I had to dig deep. It's tough though, I'm running out of stamina!"
Northern Ireland's Daryl Gurney showed that he can be a real challenger for the £400,000 title with an impressive showing during his 3-1 win over Ronny Huybrechts.
The World Grand Prix Champion and fourth seed for the tournament dispatched the experienced Belgian expertly as he finished with an average of 100, landing seven 180s and a maximum 170 checkout along the way.
Gurney's start was almost perfection as he hit back-to-back 180s and only missed on the treble 19 of a possible nine-darter - instead having to settle for a ten-dart leg to get underway, and his level hardly dipped from there.
"I played really well the first two sets and then I was probably trying too hard in the third set to try and close it out 3-0," said Gurney.
"The way I played in the first two sets, taking my chances out, that's the way I have been playing but I haven't taken it up on the stage and that's what I need to do if I'm to continue in this competition."
Mensur Suljovic was a straight sets winner over Kevin Painter in their first round contest, with the Austrian fifth seed looking like a different player after his Champions League of Darts success in September.
"I'm happy I'm here," said Suljovic. "This is brilliant playing on that stage with this crowd it's amazing."
Tuesday's action sees former World Champions Raymond van Barneveld and Adrian Lewis in action, with the Dutchman meeeting debutant Richard North and the two-time winner up against either Russia's Aleksandr Oreshkin or Germany's Kevin Munch.
The night's other tie sees Scottish ace John Henderson - a World Grand Prix semi-finalist in October - taking on Finland's Marko Kantele.
William Hill World Darts Championship
Preliminary & First Rounds
Monday December 18
Kai Fan Leung 0-2 Paul Lim (P)
Mensur Suljovic 3-0 Kevin Painter
Daryl Gurney 3-1 Ronny Huybrechts
Mark Webster 2-3 Paul Lim
Tuesday December 19 (7pm)
Aleksandr Oreshkin v Kevin Munch (P)
John Henderson v Marko Kantele
Raymond van Barneveld v Richard North
Adrian Lewis v Aleksandr Oreshkin/Kevin Munch
Preliminary Round - Best of three sets
First Round - Best of five sets