MICHAEL VAN GERWEN and James Wade romped into the BetVictor World Matchplay quarter-finals with comfortable wins over Ian White and Richie Burnett on Tuesday, as Dave Chisnall and Simon Whitlock joined them in the last eight in Blackpool.
World Champion van Gerwen progressed to the last eight for a third successive year at the Winter Gardens with a 13-4 win over White, the number 16 seed who suffered his third straight defeat in the second round of the tournament.
Van Gerwen capitalised on a slow start from the Stoke ace to power into an 8-1 lead, and though White pulled back to 11-3 at one stage, the Dutchman finished 123 to restore his cushion and went on to seal a comfortable victory.
"It was much easier than I expected, but I got the win and that's what's important," said van Gerwen, who is now the 7/4 favourite with sponsors BetVictor. "I didn't feel comfortable early on, but he didn't hit his doubles and I took advantage.
"I'm quite happy with the performance but sometimes I get frustrated with myself and I think I need to raise my game. I want to outscore and dominate my opponent in every game. but I did what I had to do.
"I'm really looking forward to playing Dave. I've got a good record against him in the last year and he's a fast player, so it should be a great game.
"At some points you need to be tested, and I've not been tested too much yet."
Van Gerwen will now meet Dave Chisnall in the last eight, after the 2013 World Grand Prix finalist defeated Andy Hamilton 13-10 in a thriller.
After a tight opening to the game, Chisnall pulled clear at 7-4 - after his opponent missed six darts to level in leg ten - only for Hamilton to reply with an 11-darter before taking out 160 and 132 as he pulled back to 8-7.
Chisnall finished a fine 134 to win his ninth leg, before Hamilton took out 120 as the pair continued to trade big finishes - but the Stoke ace was never able to draw level as the St Helens man secured his quarter-final place.
"It was a good game and a battle and I'm happy that I came out on top in the end," said Chisnall. "I knew it was going to be tough because I've played Andy before, at the World Championship, and he smashed me 4-0 in sets!
"Andy's a good finisher and I know what I can do, but after he hit the 160 and the 132 finishes I took out the 134 and that was a big shot because he was on a double to level the game."
Chisnall added: "I like playing Michael and I'm looking forward to the quarter-final. He beat me last year but it was a good game and I had my chances, so hopefully this time I can take my chances."
2007 World Matchplay champion James Wade maintained his incredible Winter Gardens record as he reached the quarter-finals for a ninth straight year by sweeping aside Richie Burnett 13-2.
Burnett shared the game's opening two legs, but Wade finished 104 and 102 as he took command at 4-1, and also checked out 98 and 70 as he moved seven legs clear before the Welshman took out 90 to hit back.
Wade, though, replied with a 180 as he regained his cushion and fired in an 11-darter before sealing a comfortable win with a 114 checkout.
"I'm really happy with that," said Wade. "I was always confident that I was going to win the game, but I didn't expect to have that margin of victory.
"Maybe I was lucky because he didn't play well, but I like to think I didn't allow him to play well so I'm happy.
"I've not been tested yet but I'd quite happily not be tested and win the tournament! It doesn't matter how you play if you win, and if I play how I can then I should come through the quarter-finals.
"I'm getting back to my best and I'm enjoying my darts again - I'm not saying I'm going to win the tournament, but I'll have a good go."
Wade will meet Simon Whitlock in the quarter-finals for a second successive year, after the Australian came from 4-0 down to defeat Raymond van Barneveld 13-8 in a bizarre contest.
Van Barneveld began the game using a new set of darts after changing from the set he had used to defeat Vincent van der Voort in the first round, but after seeing Whitlock come back to lead 9-6 then changed back to his original set.
Whitlock, though, had taken out finishes of 128, 120 and 111 in clawing his way back into the game, and though van Barneveld finished 132 as he pulled back to 11-8, another 120 checkout helped the number four seed to complete the win.
"I'm really happy to be through but I know I'll need to improve on that performance to beat James Wade," said Whitlock. "I was terrible for the first five legs but I came back well and my finishing was what got me through.
"I knew Raymond had changed and it messed my head up a bit at the start of the game, but when it came to the crunch and the pressure darts, it didn't work for him.
"I've been very confident lately but James is a great player and I will need to be somewhere close to a 100 average to beat him, finishing well and outscoring him. We've had so many battles over the last four or five years and I know what I've got to do to beat him."
The second round concludes on Wednesday with the remaining four games, including reigning champion Phil Taylor taking on Michael Smith, the former World Youth Champion who claimed victory when they met last December in the World Championship.
2013 World Matchplay finalist Adrian Lewis - who averaged 110 in his first round whitewash of Andrew Gilding - takes on Mervyn King, Paul Nicholson faces local favourite Wes Newton and Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting meets Gary Anderson.