Florian Hempel delighted the home crowd at the Interwetten German Darts Open with a memorable win over James Wade as the PDC European Tour event began in Jena on Friday.
Hempel produced one of the stand-out displays of the first round, finishing six doubles from eight attempts in a high-quality tie.
Wade played his part, hitting back from 2-0 down to level before three legs in a row moved Hempel clear, with a 101 finish from the left-hander bettered by a 115 checkout from the German which sealed victory.
Hempel now plays second seed Damon Heta in Saturday’s second round as the 16 seeded stars enter the action at the Sparkassen-Arena.
Ricardo Pietreczko moved a step closer to securing qualification for next month’s BoyleSports World Grand Prix with his 6-4 win over fellow German Daniel Klose, meaning he now faces Luke Humphries.
However, German hopes in the event took a blow when World Championship semi-finalist Gabriel Clemens was edged out 6-5 by Luke Woodhouse, who averaged 98.45.
Clemens landed an early 11-darter to lead 2-1 and finished 115 as he moved into a 5-3 advantage, but he missed one match dart in each of the next two legs as Woodhouse forced a decider, which he won with a 71 finish.
Gian van Veen continued to impress in a convincing win over former European Champion Simon Whitlock, with the Winmau World Youth Championship finalist racing to a 6-1 victory.
Van Veen will now play World Matchplay champion Nathan Aspinall in a tasty second round tie in Jena on Saturday, after taking out 156 and 120 in seeing off the veteran Australian.
Ricky Evans continued his resurgence by following up Wednesday’s qualification for the Jacks.nl World Series of Darts Finals with a brilliant 6-0 whitewash of Alan Soutar.
Evans opened the tie with a sensational 160 checkout and added two 14-darters, finishing six doubles from nine attempts and punishing Soutar for 13 misses of his own.
Daryl Gurney faces German favourite Martin Schindler on Saturday following his strong 6-2 win over Ireland’s Steve Lennon.
Brian Raman will meet recent European Darts Grand Prix winner Rob Cross in round two after silencing the German crowd in a 6-3 win over Nico Kurz, pulling away for victory after sharing the opening six legs.
Irish left-hander Dylan Slevin sealed a 6-4 win over Jeffrey de Graaf with a superb 142 checkout, which sets up a tie with former UK Open champion Danny Noppert.
America’s Jules van Dongen meets former World Youth Champion Josh Rock following his fine 6-3 success against Connor Scutt, where he finished six doubles from 13 attempts.
Dutch newcomer Roy van de Griendt won the battle of two European Tour debutants with a 6-3 success over Germany’s Danny Tessmann, and now plays fellow countryman Dirk van Duijvenbode in the last 32.
Wesley Plaisier impressed with a 99.81 average and 6/9 double attempts in his 6-4 win over George Killington, as the Dutchman moves into a second round tie with European Champion Ross Smith.
Latvia’s Madars Razma was in clinical mood as he swept aside Stephen Burton 6-1, creating a second round meeting with UK Open champion Andrew Gilding.
Kevin Doets, a Players Championship runner-up in Barnsley earlier this week, overcame European Tour debutant Callum Goffin 6-2 with the aid of an 11-darter and a 104 finish.
Belgium’s Mike De Decker needed just seven legs to see off Patrik Kovacs as he moved through to face Jose de Sousa on Saturday, taking out 130 and 120 in a strong display.
Scotland’s Cameron Menzies was a narrow 6-5 winner against Darius Labanauskas as he set up a clash with reigning German Darts Open champion Peter Wright.
Stephen Bunting landed two 12-darters in his 6-4 win over Mickey Mansell, which sets up a tie with former Masters champion Joe Cullen on Saturday.
Saturday’s second round of the £175,000 event will see 16 ties played across two sessions at the Sparkassen-Arena, with the winners progressing to Sunday’s final day of action.
The tournament is being broadcast live on Viaplay, DAZN and PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and through bookmakers’ websites worldwide.
2023 Interwetten German Darts Open
Friday September 8
Kevin Doets 6-2 Callum Goffin
Madars Razma 6-1 Stephen Burton
Wesley Plaisier 6-4 George Killington
Roy van de Griendt 6-3 Danny Tessmann
Jules van Dongen 6-3 Connor Scutt
Dylan Slevin 6-4 Jeffrey De Graaf
Mike De Decker 6-1 Patrik Kovacs
Cameron Menzies 6-5 Darius Labanauskas
Stephen Bunting 6-4 Mickey Mansell
Ricky Evans 6-0 Alan Soutar
Brian Raman 6-3 Nico Kurz
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Steve Lennon
Florian Hempel 6-3 James Wade
Ricardo Pietreczko 6-4 Daniel Klose
Luke Woodhouse 6-5 Gabriel Clemens
Gian van Veen 6-1 Simon Whitlock
Saturday September 9
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Andrew Gilding v Madars Razma
Jose De Sousa v Mike De Decker
Krzysztof Ratajski v Ricky Evans
Josh Rock v Jules van Dongen
Ryan Searle v Kevin Doets
Danny Noppert v Dylan Slevin
Rob Cross v Brian Raman
Joe Cullen v Stephen Bunting
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Roy van de Griendt
Peter Wright v Cameron Menzies
Damon Heta v Florian Hempel
Luke Humphries v Ricardo Pietreczko
Dave Chisnall v Luke Woodhouse
Nathan Aspinall v Gian van Veen
Martin Schindler v Daryl Gurney
Ross Smith v Wesley Plaisier