Daryl Gurney, Rob Cross and Glen Durrant booked their place in the knockout stages of the Grand Slam of Darts, but world No 95 Ryan Harrington stole the headlines.
Harrington, son of two-time Matchplay winner Rod, came through qualifying in Wigan last Monday and he battled his way past Wayne Warren to set up a fairy-tale last-16 clash with Dave Chisnall.
The 29-year-old has featured very little on the TV stage in his career so far and is battling to retain his Tour card but Peter Wright set up the opportunity that he took, and then celebrated on stage with his dad.
It was three more high-profile names that took the other spots on offer on day three in Wolverhampton as major winners Gurney and Cross were joined by three-time BDO world champion Durrant in moving on.
Cross missed eight match darts but eventually found a way to silence the crowd and send local favourite Jamie Hughes packing despite a valiant effort from the man from down the road in Tiptree.
Voltage had powered out of the blocks and into a 4-1 lead and looked to be heading for an early finish until his doubling deserted him and Hughes found his trademark scoring power to claw back the arrears and force a deciding leg.
But it was Cross that prevailed thanks to double 10 and he joins Chisnall in advancing from Group E. In-form Chizzy was too strong for Lisa Ashton, a 5-1 win meaning he topped the group and Ashton’s debut at the event ending with three defeats.
Group H had been billed as the toughest of the first-round group stage and eventually it was Glen Durrant who advanced thanks to a 5-0 win over Nathan Aspinall.
The Asp missed all six darts he had at a double, and despite being far from clinical on his finishing doubles himself, Duzza did enough to prevail and take second spot behind Michael Smith.
Bully Boy, a 2015 semi-finalist, had booked his place in the knockout stage with a game to spare with a near-flawless performance on Sunday but he quickly fell 3-0 down against Martin Schindler.
Smith rallied to trail by one before a 136 finish from Schindler left him on the brink of a confidence-boosting victory but, with the finishing line in sight, both men frittered away chances with Bully Boy standing firm.
Gurney battled back from 2-1 down to reel off four legs in succession and win his shoot-out with Brendan Dolan to book a place in the second round.
Superchin, a quarter-finalist on his only previous appearance at the Grand Slam in 2017, was full of emotion after a huge win as he tournament turned knockout before anyone else.
Both Gurney and Dolan had won lost and lost one of their weekend group matches, but it was Gurney who prevailed with a brilliant 161 finish in the sixth leg for a 4-2 lead that followed a crucial break of throw.
The two-time major champion then sealed the win and the runners-up spot in Group G after missed darts from the history maker to extend the contest,
Germany’s Gabriel Clemens took top spot and maintained his 100 per cent record with a barnstorming performance against Richard Veenstra.
Clemens fired in five 180s on his way to a 110.3 average and his five of his seven darts at double to leave Veenstra, the BDO No 2, winless on his Grand Slam debut.
In Group F, Peter Wright became the fourth player on the night to wrap up a perfect record in the group stage, he beat Danny Noppert 5-2 in a match that eliminated Wayne Warren but opened the door for Harrington.
Like Clemens, the 29-year-old came through the qualifying tournament last Monday and one week on he took to the stage with the biggest opportunity of his career looming.
A nervy first leg eventually went the way of Harrington after Warren missed a couple of darts to take the opener, and the world no 95 followed up with the next two for a 3-0 lead.
Warren stopped the rot but despite plenty of nerves on display it was Harrington who kept his composure and claimed the biggest win of his career and a place in the knockout stages.
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