Belgian star Dimitri Van den Bergh booked his spot in the last eight of the behind closed doors Betfred World Matchplay in Milton Keynes, in his first year at the tournament, defeating Joe Cullen 11-9 in a scrappy all Team Unicorn encounter.

The match began with Cullen, who had match-darts to defeat Gary Anderson in the 2018 Matchplay quarter-final, taking a 3-2 lead in to the opening break despite two ton plus finishes from his opponent.

A further break of throw followed for Cullen as he moved 5-2 ahead before a magical 138 finish from the Belgian closed the gap to two once again.

The 26-year-old former World Youth Champion, retrieved one of the breaks of throw before going on to level the match at 8-8, punishing Culled for missing three at a double to go 9-7 up.

The pair then traded breaks of throw until a scrappy 20th leg eventually saw Van den Bergh break throw and get over the line on double one.

“It wasn’t easy today but I’m so happy to say I am starting to win ugly games, this is very important,” said the Belgian.

Van den Bergh who reached the quarter-final stage of the UK Open in March went on to conclude that the time feels right to make a major step in his career.

“It is time to start being a bit more arrogant on stage. I have dreams and now it’s time to go out and get them, no more excuses.”

Van den Bergh will face two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis in the last eight after the 35-year-old defeated debutant Danny Noppert 11-7.

On Tuesday evening, Team Unicorn talisman Gary Anderson in the last 16, afterthe Scot ran out an 11-8 victory over James Wade in the battle of the former World Matchplay champions.

2018 winner Anderson, who is now the only player left in the field to have lifted the title, threw nine 180s and twice threatened a nine-dart finish by opening the ninth and tenth legs with six perfect darts.

From 3-2 down, Anderson won seven of the next eight legs to move into a commanding 9-4 lead, taking advantage of some uncharacteristic missed double attempts from Wade.

A hat-trick of legs saw Wade fight back to trail 9-7, but Anderson twice found his favourite double top to end hopes of a fightback.

"Tonight was a continuation of how my game has been going recently, some good and some bad," admitted Anderson.

"One minute my throw is fine, the next minute it's all over the place and I'm not quite sure why.

"I found it fine playing the online darts during lockdown, but I'm still finding this very weird playing in front of no fans.

"But, even though I'm not too happy with how I'm playing, I've got that winning feeling so hopefully I can keep it going."

Team Unicorn’s 2019 runner-up Michael Smith became the first player to reach the quarter-finals, coming through a dramatic tie-break with Mensur Suljovic to win 14-12.

Smith, who piled in ten 180s, recovered from deficits of 8-5 and 9-6 to take Suljovic to a second tie-break in as many matches.

The opening four legs of the tie-break were shared, with neither player crafting out a match dart, before Smith struck a vital break of throw to go 13-12 up.

After Suljovic spurned three double attempts to break straight back, Smith landed a timely 110 checkout to book a last eight meeting with Krzysztof Ratajski.

"I wasn't ready to go home tonight, I had to fight really hard for my place in the tournament," said Smith.

"I've showed over the last year or so that I have got the fight to stick in games and come out on top.

"People associate me getting annoyed with myself as a sign that I'm 'giving up' but it's not at all, it's me trying to get myself going.

"I often boss games with my scoring but tonight I wasn't scoring well so I had to make up for it with good finishing, which isn't what I'm known for, but tonight I made the most of my chances."

Everyone at Unicorn wishes Dimitri, Gary and Michael all of the very best for the rest of the tournament.

 

Thursday July 23 (1900)
2x Quarter-Finals - Order of Play
Krzysztof Ratajski v Michael Smith
Simon Whitlock v Gary Anderson

Friday July 24 (1900)
2x Quarter-Finals - Order of Play

Adrian Lewis v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Glen Durrant v Vincent van der Voort