Luke Humphries and Luke Littler will renew their rivalry on Saturday after progressing to the quarter-finals of the TOTO Dutch Darts Masters.
World Champion Humphries showed his class with a ruthless 6-0 whitewash of Jermaine Wattimena to begin his bid for a maiden World Series title at De Maaspoort in Den Bosch.
He will now meet Littler in the quarter-finals to open Saturday’s final day of action – with the pair clashing for the first time since he took victory in their epic World Championship final on January 3.
Meanwhile, Littler’s bid to win a second successive World Series title began with a convincing 6-2 win over Dirk van Duijvenbode.
The 17-year-old landed a nine-darter on his way to glory at the Bahrain Darts Masters a week ago, and opened this tie with one of four 180s before taking out a brilliant 150 finish to seal his quarter-final spot.
“I’m just happy to win my first game,” admitted Littler. “In practice nothing was really going but I thought I played well.
“I’m happy to win tonight and I can’t wait to play again.”
Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld will clash in a meeting of Dutch legends in the quarter-finals, after they also progressed in Den Bosch.
Van Gerwen – last week’s Bahrain Darts Masters runner-up – won the opening three legs without reply against best friend Vincent van der Voort, landing a 12-darter in the process – before back-to-back checkouts of 96 and 94 sealed his spot in the last eight.
“I’m glad it’s over, it’s done now, I won the game and I’m glad with that,” said Van Gerwen. “I had to beat him and today wasn’t too bad and I did ok.
“It wasn’t fantastic but I did the right things at the right moments. Anyone who comes on my path I have to beat and I have to make sure I’m there tomorrow.”
Van Barneveld delighted the Dutch crowd with a narrow 6-5 win over Rob Cross, who spurned two match darts in a dramatic deciding leg.
Cross raced into a 2-0 lead with legs of 12 and 13 darts, only for Van Barneveld to win four of the next five as the five-time World Champion edged ahead.
Finishes of 61 and 110 moved Cross back in front at 5-4, but double 18 saved the game for Van Barneveld before missed darts at double 18 and nine in the deciding leg allowed the Dutchman to delight the capacity crowd on double 12.
“It’s always so special,” said Van Barneveld, who finished six doubles from eight attempts in a clinical display.
“We don’t have many events in Holland and it’s fantastic to be in Holland again. I believed in myself and I think the crowd helped me.”
Gerwyn Price shone with a 103.43 average in a high-quality 6-3 win over 2022 Dutch Darts Masters winner Dimitri Van den Bergh, who hit back from 4-0 down only to see the Welsh star progress.
Dutchman Kevin Doets produced the biggest win of his career to date as he overcame two-time World Champion Peter Wright 6-2 to set up a quarter-final tie with Price.
“It’s incredible,” said Doets. “To win in front of my home crowd is the best feeling. I love playing on stage, I was the better player and I still feel like I could play a lot better.”
Dutch duo Danny Noppert and Gian van Veen will also clash in the quarter-finals after enjoying memorable wins over Nathan Aspinall and Michael Smith respectively.
World number seven Noppert was a 6-2 winner in a clash of former UK Open champions with Aspinall in the tournament’s opening tie.
2023 Development Tour Order of Merit winner Van Veen, meanwhile, produced a strong display to defeat former World Champion Smith 6-3, winning five of the game’s final six legs.
The tournament concludes on Saturday with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in one bumper session at De Maaspoort.
The 2024 TOTO Dutch Darts Masters will be broadcast on Viaplay and RTL7 in the Netherlands, with the action getting underway from 1900 local time.
For UK viewers, coverage on Saturday will be broadcast on ITV3 from 1800 GMT, while global coverage is also available on DAZN in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and on PDCTV.
2024 TOTO Dutch Darts Masters
Friday January 26
Danny Noppert 6-2 Nathan Aspinall
Kevin Doets 6-2 Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price 6-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Gian van Veen 6-3 Michael Smith
Raymond van Barneveld 6-5 Rob Cross
Luke Littler 6-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Luke Humphries 6-0 Jermaine Wattimena
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Vincent van der Voort
Best of 11 legs
Saturday January 27 (1900 local time, 1800 GMT)
Luke Littler v Luke Humphries
Gerwyn Price v Kevin Doets
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
Gian van Veen v Danny Noppert
Best of 11 legs
Littler/Humphries v Price/Doets
Van Gerwen/Van Barneveld v Van Veen/Noppert
Best of 13 legs
Littler/Humphries/Price/Doets v Van Gerwen/Van Barneveld/Van Veen/Noppert
Best of 15 legs