In-form Dave Chisnall reached the last eight of the BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts at the Aldersley Leisure Village on Wednesday, averaging 102 in a 10-3 win against Ryan Harrington.
Chisnall made the early running with a pair of 14-darters and also finished 104 to move 4-0 up before a superb 154 checkout got Harrington off the mark.
Legs of 13, 14 and 11 darts helped Chisnall into a 7-1 lead before Harrington hit back with a 13-darter and an 87 finish to pull back to 7-3.
Chisnall, the 2014 finalist, restored his cushion with a 14-darter before pinning double six and double four to secure his last eight spot in a fourth successive televised event.
The 39-year-old has reached the World Grand Prix final this autumn to follow up three ranking victories - and is now hoping to go all the way to a maiden TV title.
“I’m happy to be through,” said Chisnall, who now meets Wright in Friday’s quarter-finals. “I’m playing okay and I hit some good shots - it could have been closer but that’s the game.
“Luckily for me I’m starting to play well again and hitting my doubles, and I can look forward to Friday now.”
Harrington had won through the qualifiers before wins over Danny Noppert and Wayne Warren saw him progress from Group F to reach the last 16 of a televised event for the first time, where he averaged 96 in defeat.
“Ryan played well and can take the positives,” added Chisnall. “He’ll be full of confidence now and I hope he gets his career up and running.
“He missed a few bulls early on and could have been 3-2 up when it was 4-1 to me, and he had some chances to stay in it, but he should be proud of himself.”
Ruthless Peter Wright also powered through to the quarter-finals in superb fashion alongside Michael Smith and Glen Durrant.
Wright produced a relentless performance to see off Rob Cross 10-3 at the Aldersley Leisure Village, ending the world number two’s hopes of a third televised title of 2019.
Cross had remained in touch with Wright at 3-2 despite an early barrage from the Scot, who then won six straight legs to move into a 9-2 advantage before closing out a heavy win.
Wright had won all three group stage matches and is now the 8/1 second favourite with tournament sponsors BoyleSports, behind 10/11 favourite Michael van Gerwen, to lift the Eric Bristow Trophy on Sunday.
“It’s nice to get into the knockouts so well and to beat Rob Cross is a bonus because he’s such a great player who’s done fantastically well this year,” said Wright.
“I’m happy and I was confident coming into this. I’m using the heavier, 26 gram darts, like when I reached the World Championship final in 2014, but I’ve changed the stems and it’s working for me.
“I’m aiming every dart and throwing properly and it’s a pace I feel comfortable with. I feel good and I know there’s lots more to come with the darts, and hopefully that’s in this tournament.”
Glen Durrant came back from 3-0 and 7-4 down to book his place in the quarter-finals for a second time in three years after edging out Germany’s Gabriel Clemens 10-9 in a thriller.
Wolverhampton debutant Clemens looked set to continue his impressive march after dominating the contest, but ultimately paid the price for one missed match dart.
Durrant showed his battling qualities to force a deciding leg in which he landed a 177 to be first to a finish, and double eight for a 14-darter completed his gutsy fightback.
“It’s a super win,” admitted Durrant. “It was a huge game and very emotional, and it’s a fantastic win for me.
“I was never in front until the last dart but I’ve got real fight, determination and bottle and I’m a great match player. I’m not the biggest scorer but I fight and I’m delighted to win.
“I’m not starting as quickly as I’d like to so maybe I have to look at that, but I found something inside me and I knew when it got to nine legs each that I could take my chance.”
Clemens landed an early 12-darter on his way to a 3-0 lead, which was cancelled out as Durrant finished 132 on the bull and 87 in squaring the game.
The German ace hit finishes of 110 and 106 on his way to a 7-4 lead, with Durrant again levelling as he took out 107 and 80 in successive legs.
Clemens moved 8-7 and 9-8 up as the tension mounted, but missed one match dart at tops in leg 18 as Durrant pounced on double ten before prevailing in the decider - leading for the first time as he celebrated victory.
Durrant now plays Michael Smith, who averaged 101.56 in his impressive 10-7 defeat of Daryl Gurney to reach the last eight for the first time since 2015.
Northern Irish ace Gurney made a strong start to land a trio of 14-darters as he took an early 3-1 lead, before Smith landed a pair of 11-dart finishes and a 100 checkout as he hit back to level at four-all.
Smith then finished a 13-darter and a 110 checkout to take his run to four straight legs as he took a 6-4 advantage and extended that cushion to 8-5 before holding his nerve to seal the win.
“Any win over Daryl is a good win so I’m really happy,” said Smith. “Every time I play Daryl it’s a good game and I dug deep.
“I had to keep believing in myself and I know I can step it up when I have to. Hopefully I can keep winning and be the Grand Slam champion at the end of the week.
“As long as I don’t stop believing, I’ll get there. If I don’t believe in myself, nobody will and I believe that I can win any tournament that I play in, but I’m trying so hard.
“I’ve not won a TV title yet, but I’m getting to the back end of tournaments and as long as I keep knocking, one day I’ll get through that door and keep winning.”
The second round concludes on Thursday with the remaining four matches, including reigning champion Gerwyn Price taking on Darren Webster.
World number one Michael van Gerwen meets Ian White, while an all-Scottish clash sees Gary Anderson play Robert Thornton and James Wade faces Adrian Lewis