Sixteen Left In Hunt For Champs Title
Just sixteen of the eighty-three competitors remain in with a chance of being crowned the 2021 Champion of Champions after a dramatic evening of action unfolded across the four venues.
The revamped format saw players needing to win two games on the night to qualify for Final's Night, which will see sixteen whittled down to one on Sunday, 19th December at the Victory Inn.
2015 Champion John Mann made it through with relative ease at the Fawn winning his two ties 3-0 against Bluebird's Alan Masters and Sam Moyse of the London Inn respectively, notching two maximums, and legs of 11 and 13 in the process.
Joining Mann in qualification from the Greenbank venue was Victory Inn's Danny Allen who also made light work of his night with successive 3-0 victories over Devon player Daniel Belsten and Dylan Webb.
Webb had earlier ended Phil Stewart's chances of adding a second title to his name in the Last 64 stage with a 3-0 win.
Lee Hellings and Andrew Waters made up the quartet but their evenings were slightly more hair raising with the Devon A team player, Hellings, edging Cornwall's Kevin Dunstan 3-2 before making slightly easier work of his encounter with Stephan Jones playing from the King Billy.
Torpoint Cons' Waters also won by the odd leg in five in the Last 64 stage against the talented youngster, Ewan Johnson, in a game that saw the Raffles' player hit a maximum.
Waters then went on to repeat the feat against Cherry Tree's Marc Webber to book his place at Final's Night.
Neil White, who won the competition in 2018, dropped a single leg in his two games at the Hyde Park Social Club with a 3-1 win over St Johnston's Kevin Evans and a 3-0 over Fawn's Alan Brady.
White, who now plays from the Octagon Social Club, showed title winning form with a 73 finish and ten throws of a ton or more; one of which was a maximum.
Victory Inn's star man Mark Gilbery also made it through with some stunning darts in his 3-2 wins over teammate Quinton Taylor and King Billy's Jason Pinkerton.
Gilbery threw a 70 checkout and no fewer than fifteen ton plusses, including a maximum, which aided him to a 16 dart leg.
Joining Gilbery and White from the venue were the two youngest players left in the draw after Cornwall and Devon youth players Jaden Whitting and Frankie Stout navigated their way through the tricky two game stage.
Whitting, who plays league darts for the Fawn, received a bye in the Last 64 stage and made light work of his match with Bluebird's Wayne Oddie to seal a coveted spot in the Last 16.
Firkin Scholar's Stout also played only one game due to competitors not turning up but showed his undoubted class when ousting his much older opponent, Victory Inn's Steve Ebsworth, 3-2.
Both players had 180s in the tie and Ebsworth also took a leg with a fine 73 finish, but it was Stout who booked eventually won through.
Another youngster making it through to Final's Night was St Johnston's Kieran Burns who had a comfortable night with two 3-0 wins over Indian's Kev Bridgeman and King Billy's Bayleigh Webb at the King Billy.
Undoubtedly one favourite left in the draw is King Billy's Andy Bates, who took out 2013 Champion Dan Johnson 3-1 in a game, which Johnson hit a maximum.
In the Last 32 stage, Bates then won through 3-0 against Hyde Park's James Duke with Bates taking a leg in 15 and outshots of 121 and 117.
Victory Inn's Andrew Cook also looked in fine fettle with a 13 dart leg, 140 checkout and two maximums as he won 3-1 against Fawn's Fred Goldsmith and Victory stablemate Paul Gavican with both opponents hitting maximums against Cook.
Completing the King Billy lineup of qualifiers was 2019 semi finalist Mike Nancholas, who is still in with a shout of going one better than the last staging of the event, after a 3-0 win over Hyde Park teammates Lee Hunter and Ross Paxton-Denny.
Victory Inn's Mark Shears certainly set his title stall out with his performance at the Indian Inn, coming through a tough tie against King Billy's Billy Evans and fellow Victory player, Paul Goundry 3-2 and 3-1 respectively.
Evans threw a maximum and 100 checkout but it wasn't enough to defeat the imperious Devon man who notched four maximums and a 117 checkout overall on the night.
Kings Arms player, Paul Palmer, survived a Last 64 scare against Fawn's Steve Brocklesby 3-2 but made light work of his Last 32 tie against Indian's Stephen Hopley 3-0.
Palmer, who enjoying a welcomed return to form just at the right time, notched a maximum and 104 checkout to book his place at the Victory Inn.
Completing the lineup were Raffles' Danny Bull and Victory Inn's Scott Cook with Devon's Bull winning a final leg decider against Fawn's Kyle Burden.
Burden himself looked in good form putting his name in the maximum column of the sheet on the night.
Cook made much lighter work of his outings, aided by two maximums, with 3-1 and 3-0 wins over King Billy duo Anthony Pearn and Kevin Lofthouse.