8 has been whittled down to 4 at the Alexandra Palace following the conclusion of quarter-finals. Nathan Aspinall was the first man to make it through to book his place in a second consecutive world semi-final. ‘The Asp’ had to endure a dogged fight with the now two-times quarter-finalist Dimitri van den Bergh, who averaged 91. Alarm bells were no doubt ringing for the Stockport man when DvdB raced to a 1 set lead, winning all of the opening 3 legs against his off-the-ball opponent. However, a break of throw in the 4th leg of the second set levelled proceedings at 1 all and the next set went to the number 12 seed on the same scoreline, taking him 2-1 ahead. Double trouble for the Belgian meant he felt two sets behind before falling short in the deciding leg of 5th set to take the deficit to three. What followed however was glimpses of the grit and determination which has saw him reach two World Championship quarter-finals against the odds, as he clawed his way to 2-4 and then 3-4. And he continued the comeback, taking Aspinall to yet another deciding leg in the eighth set. It wasn’t to be, though, as Aspinall rolled off a 13 dart leg to send Dimitri packing and reach the last 4.
The 28-year-old will face the world number one Michael van Gerwen, who overcame Darius Labanauskas in his quarter-final. It was MvG on the ropes after the Lithuanian cleaned up set one, taking it on double 10 in the fifth and deciding leg. The match looked to be getting even more interesting after Labanauskas broke van Gerwen to lead 2-1 in set 2 with Darius having a dart for a 2-0 lead from 124 at the bull. It fell into the 1 segment, however, and the game was never really out of the Dutchman’s grasp after that. An unfortunate incident with a falling dart followed for the increasingly unlucky D, who had to receive a medical timeout to plaster a point-shaped hole in his finger. With the deficit now at 2 sets, the former BDO World Championship quarter-finalist was able to bring the game to 2-3, capitalising on some checkout problems from the defending world champion. In the sixth set, things got even stranger as, whilst Labanauskas was on 141 for a nine-darter, MvG attempted the checkout himself despite being way behind on 444. He went one better than Labanauskas, hitting treble 20 and treble 19 before missing double 12. The defending champion has been criticised on Twitter by some for gamesmanship and it is uncertain if it affected the Lithuanian or not. Regardless, MvG motored on to the sixth set before narrowly avoiding an eighth, closing out the match on double 8 to win 5-2.
Semi-final number 1 this evening will feature Scotsman Peter Wright, who got the better of ‘Cool Hand’ Luke Humphries. Wright had suffered with a lack of energy in his clash against Jeffrey de Zwaan but he looked full of beans (quite literally according to Dan Dawson) against the Berkshire thrower, who was in his second World Championship quarter-final. He closed off set one in style with a 124 out before quickly doubling his lead to 2 sets. Humphries battled on, however, taking set 3 to a deciding leg before getting a much needed set on the board via double 8, after Wright missed double top for a 144 finish. But Snakebite, who, at 105.86 registered the best average of the tournament so far, was scoring too strongly for the 24-year-old, and took another set to lead 3-1 despite some problems consolidating an early break. 3-1 soon became 4-1 but the PDC World Youth champion rallied on, taking the next set 3-1 to reduce the deficit to 2 sets. And it looked as if the Scotsman was in trouble as Humphries broke throw in the next set and won 3-0. The eighth set continued on throw until Wright was leading 2-1, Humphries with the darts, as the 2014 finalist benefitted from a few poor visits and a missed dart at double 15 for 2-2 by Humphries to break and win the match.
He will face Welshman Gerwyn Price, who lengthened his best run at a PDC World Championship to the last 4 after defeating 3-times BDO World Champion Glen Durrant. Price was near unplayable early on as Duzza needed two 100+ outs in set 1 to keep the event’s second favourite at bay. It didn’t stop Gerwyn from taking the set and things got worse for the Middlesbrough man in set 2 as he was broken in the first leg. Despite another flashy checkout, this time 146, this led to a 2-0 lead for Price before Glen capitalised on some poor doubling to halve the deficit. The normal order of the tie was soon restored though as Price went to 3-1 in sets with help from another opening leg break. Unfortunately for the 49-year-old, who has had a phenomenal opening year on the PDC circuit, he seemed to be either a dart or two behind Price or unable to take his chances when needed, and 3-1 soon became 4-1. Eyeing up a first Worlds semi-final, Gerwyn was not messing around, breaking once again at 1-1 to lead 2-1 before winning leg 4 in 15 darts to win 5-1.
A final featuring the two Gerwy/ens seemed a very likely outcome at the beginning of the event, and although the two have faced bumps along the way, they enter the semi-finals in a strong position. But Nathan Aspinall will be determined to go one better than his last 4 appearance last year, a game he was unlucky to lose, and with Peter Wright playing some of his best darts for a long time in this championship, nothing is certain yet.
Image Credits: PDC