Michael van Gerwen produced an imperious performance to end the hopes of Germany’s new superstar Ricardo Pietreczko and move through to the Machineseeker European Championship quarter-finals.
Four-time European Champion Van Gerwen averaged 104 to defeat a spirited Pietreczko on Day Three in Dortmund, with a blistering mid-game burst catapulting the Dutchman to an impressive 10-7 victory.
Pietreczko stunned Van Gerwen on his way to lifting the German Darts Championship title earlier this month, and he made a dream start to Saturday’s repeat fixture, raising the roof at the Westfalenhalle with a magnificent 167 finish in the opening leg.
The 29-year-old German led 3-2 at the first interval, but Van Gerwen responded with a brutal five-leg barrage to seize the initiative, averaging 117 during a spell which featured a ten-darter and a 140 combination.
Pietreczko, roared on by a huge crowd at the Westfalenhalle, reduced the deficit to 6-7 at one stage, only for Van Gerwen to follow up a 145 checkout in leg 14 with a clinical 110 kill to seal the deal.
“It wasn’t easy,” admitted Van Gerwen, who hit eight 180s and converted three ton-plus checkouts to continue his bid for a first European Championship success since 2017.
“After the first break I came back like a new Michael van Gerwen. I had a couple of good finishes and I scored really well, but I think there is more in the tank.
“I feel good, I feel comfortable, so I need to make sure I do this for the rest of the tournament.”
Saturday’s double-session saw eight last 16 encounters take place in Dortmund, with former champions Peter Wright and James Wade joining the likes of Gerwyn Price and Luke Humphries in the quarter-finals.
In the afternoon’s headline act, Wright continued his bid for a second European Championship crown with a thumping 10-4 victory against World Champion Michael Smith.
Smith – a runner-up in Dortmund 12 months ago – was left shell-shocked as a merciless Wright punished his opponent’s doubling woes to storm into a 8-0 lead.
World number one Smith threatened an unlikely fightback with a run of four straight legs, although Wright regained his poise with legs of 14 and 13 darts to cap off a fine performance.
“I didn’t feel comfortable at all,” revealed Wright, who recorded 107, 117 and 155 finishes in setting up a quarter-final clash against Chris Dobey.
“Michael isn’t the World Champion and world number one for nothing, but he didn’t bring his game at all, and I just did enough.
“I’m still in the tournament and I can only improve, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow now.”
Masters champion Dobey defied a late onslaught from Stephen Bunting to celebrate a dramatic 10-8 success, despite the St Helens man landing 11 maximums in defeat.
Dobey conjured up a magical 170 checkout on his way to a commanding 7-2 lead, before fending off a valiant fightback from his opponent to seal a place in his third consecutive TV ranking quarter-final.
Price, meanwhile, powered his way through to the last eight with a resounding 10-5 victory over Nathan Aspinall, winning the last five legs without reply to dump out the World Matchplay champion.
There was nothing to separate the pair after ten legs, but a blistering late burst from the Welshman – featuring back-to-back 11-darters – saw him triumph with a 102 average and seven 180s.
“I’m definitely happy with the way I played towards the end of that game,” reflected Price, who will now take on 2022 UK Open champion Danny Noppert.
“Nathan is a great player. Even when he’s not at his best he keeps pushing you, but towards the end of the game I produced some good darts.
“If I can perform like that tomorrow then I will be difficult to beat, and if I get better round by round, then that trophy will be coming to Wales!”
Noppert reeled off five straight legs to seal a 10-7 success against two-time European Champion Rob Cross, as he moved through to a third consecutive European Championship quarter-final.
The Dutch number two, who averaged 106 in his opening round whitewash of Andrew Gilding, produced a hat-trick of 15-dart legs and a 12-dart break in the closing stages to complete the turnaround.
Elsewhere, World Grand Prix champion Luke Humphries maintained his bid for back-to-back televised titles by disposing of Poland’s number one Krzysztof Ratajski 10-5.
Ratajski, who claimed his first win on the European Championship stage at the sixth attempt on Friday, opened his account with a 118 checkout and led 5-4 at one stage.
However, Humphries came roaring back with a sequence of six straight legs to prevail with a 96 average, four 180s and a 42% success rate on the outer ring.
“I was incredibly frustrated throughout that game,” conceded Humphries, who will lock horns with 2018 champion Wade in Sunday’s quarter-finals.
“I think Krzysztof played well, but I was really pumped up after the second break, because I felt I should have been 7-3 up, but I didn’t let it affect me.
“I think this is something new in my game now. When I’m not playing at my best, I’ve got that mental strength to come out and not let it impact me, and I’m really proud of how I played in those last six legs.
Wade – aided by superb 144 and 160 checkouts in the opening exchanges – demolished an out-of-sorts Jose de Sousa 10-1 to secure a place in his first PDC Premier quarter-final in over 18 months as he continued his challenge to repeat his 2018 success in Dortmund.
In the evening’s other tie, Dutch youngster Gian van Veen claimed a hard-fought 10-6 win over Daryl Gurney to set up a mouth-watering showdown against his compatriot Van Gerwen.
Despite making a subdued start, Van Veen found his range in the latter stages, firing in five 180s and producing two ton-plus finishes to progress to a maiden PDC Premier quarter-final.
Following Sunday afternoon’s quarter-finals, the semi-finals and final will take place in a decisive evening session, as the sport’s biggest names battle it out for the £120,000 top prize at the Westfalenhalle.
2023 Machineseeker European Championship
Saturday October 28
Chris Dobey 10-8 Stephen Bunting
Danny Noppert 10-7 Rob Cross
Gerwyn Price 10-5 Nathan Aspinall
Peter Wright 10-4 Michael Smith
Gian van Veen 10-6 Daryl Gurney
James Wade 10-1 Jose de Sousa
Luke Humphries 10-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Ricardo Pietreczko
2023 Machineseeker European Championship
Sunday October 29
Afternoon Session (1300-1700 CET)
Chris Dobey v Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price v Danny Noppert
Luke Humphries v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen v Gian van Veen
Best of 19 legs
Evening Session (1900-2300 CET)
Dobey/Wright v Price/Noppert
Humphries/Wade v Van Gerwen/Van Veen
Best of 21 legs
Best of 21 legs