ST HELENS darter Dave Chisnall produced a stunning comeback to reach the quarter-finals of the Unibet Masters.

Dave Chisnall produced an incredible fightback from 8-0 down to edge a thrilling Unibet Masters opener with Robert Thornton with a 10-9 triumph.

Thornton made an ideal start with a 14-dart finish, ending on tops, and then punished missed double from Chisnall in three successive legs by checking out 100, 78 and 80 as he took a 4-0 lead.

He then took out 122 to win the fifth - despite bursting his score on the same finish in the previous visit - punished further misses from Chisnall in leg six and took out 60 and 97 for an 8-0 advantage.

Chisnall finally got off the mark in leg nine, with his 15th dart at a double, before finishing 101 to continue his revival.

A pair of third-dart doubles - at tops and double ten - saw Chisnall pull back to 8-6 before Thornton steadied his nerves with double 12 to claim his first leg in seven and edge 9-6 up.

The pair traded 180s in the 16th leg before Chisnall punished a missed match dart from the Scot to land double 16 and stay in the hunt, and double six then saw the St Helens ace pull back to 9-8.

Chisnall's seventh 180 helped to set up double eight as he forced a decider, and when Thornton missed double top and ten to close out victory, the world number ten completed his amazing comeback by landing tops.

"Robert was playing well at the start and I missed a few doubles," said Chisnall. "I don't know what happened but I never gave in and I had nothing to lose.

"I thought I was going to lose because it's hard to come back from 8-0 down, but I took it leg by leg. He'd won eight legs in a row so there was no reason why I couldn't and he let me in.

"That's probably one of my best comebacks but I've got to improve on Sunday."

Thornton said: "I hardly missed a double in the first eight legs and I can't put my finger on what went wrong just yet.

"I was still focused but all of a sudden my darts started going into the ones and fives, and I was dropping short going for tops and missing double ten by miles.

"It might be lack of match practice, but when you're playing at this level that shouldn't matter when you're that far in front. I've not got too long to dwell on this because the Premier League starts on Thursday, and I won't make the same mistake again."

Michael Smith marked his Unibet Masters debut with a first-ever televised win over Raymond van Barneveld as a 10-7 victory saw him move into the quarter-finals at ArenaMK.

The former World Youth Champion avenged his World Championship defeat to the Dutchman by finishing the stronger, taking six of the final eight legs after finding himself 5-4 down before turning the game around.

Smith kicked off the game with a 180 in a 13-darter, and after the first four legs were shared the youngster added another 13-dart finish and an 88 checkout to move 4-2 up.

Last year's runner-up Van Barneveld replied with a brilliant ten-darter and levelled before finishing a 14-dart leg to edge 5-4 up, only to see Smith respond with four successive legs as he took an 8-5 lead.

The St Helens ace then fired in two 180s in the 14th leg, only to be stunned by a superb 138 finish as van Barneveld hit back with a 12-darter.

Smith, though, added another maximum as an 11-darter restored his breathing space before following up double ten from his rival with a sixth maximum and tops to secure a quarter-final berth.

"I'm happy with the win but not with how I played, but I'll take the win," said Smith. "Raymond's 138 was outstanding but he was more patchy than I was and maybe I was trying too hard.

"It's my first win over Raymond on TV and I wanted to correct what happened at the World Championship because I thought I threw that game away. Neither of us got going and I was thinking too much about trying to beat Raymond.

"I showed I can still battle, and now I can win ugly. I'm into another quarter-final now and I'll go up there on Sunday afternoon, have fun and hopefully play better than this."

He will meet number one Michael van Gerwen in the last eight after he began his defence of the Unibet Masters title with a 10-1 annihilation of Windle thrower Stephen Bunting at ArenaMK on Saturday.

World number one van Gerwen needed less than 18 minutes of playing time as he produced a 112.20 average and set up a possible nine-dart finish on three occasions, including a missed double 15 for a perfect leg in an astounding display.

Van Gerwen had also averaged 112 in last year's final, and is in confident mood as he challenges to retain the £60,000 title on Sunday, which will feature the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in Milton Keynes.

"I felt absolutely fantastic on stage and my confidence was there," said van Gerwen. "I'm fresh and this is a fantastic start of the season, so I hope I can keep this going now.

"I was still disappointed with a couple of moments because you look to perfection, but overall I'm really happy and I will be ready for tomorrow.

"The nine-darter would have been nice but I still won the leg and winning the games is the most important thing. If I play my game I know I can beat anyone, but I just need to keep doing that."

In a shock World Champion Gary Anderson went out 10-7 to Vincent van der Voort as the Dutchman avenged his recent World Championship loss with a high-quality performance.

"It's a great victory for me," said van der Voort.

"Gary embarrassed me in the World Championship - he smashed me 12-1 and that hurt me, big time - and now I've won one so it's good for me.

"I know Gary didn't play his best but you still have to beat the World Champion and that's a massive achievement."

Anderson praised the Dutchman's performance, saying: "Vincent played well. A few times when I needed to break him he kicked off legs with a 180 and that makes it quite hard to catch up.

"It's been three weeks [since I've played] but it feels like three months and it's hard but there's plenty of time this year and it's a long road ahead."

Number three seed Adrian Lewis was also knocked out as Kim Huybrechts bounced back from his first round exit at the World Championship with a superb 10-4 victory which featured three ton-plus checkouts in a key spell in mid-match.

"I've been practising really hard on finishes between 60-110, those as massive in games and you really hurt opponents with them, and that's what I did today so I'm happy the practice worked out," said Huybrechts.

"I was obviously very disappointed to lose in the first round at the World Championship and I said things had to change. I've totally changed my life to be honest.

"I'm practising really hard, being healthy, working out and doing my best to be a professional, and I had no doubt that I'd win today. I'm going to work hard, do my best and see what happens."

Huybrechts now takes on 2014 Masters champion James Wade, who overcame Terry Jenkins 10-8 in a close contest.

"I made it hard work but I came through it," said Wade. "They are the hard games to win, when you're in the corner getting beaten up and I just about managed to punch my way out of the corner."

Phil Taylor, the inaugural Masters champion in 2013, averaged 102.03 in a superb start to his challenge for a second title in the event as he defeated Jelle Klaasen 10-6.

The Dutchman had won when they met in the World Championship recently, but never recovered from seeing a rejuvenated Taylor take a 6-0 lead early on.

"I started off brilliantly but then I went a bit nervous," said Taylor. "Jelle was coming back and pushing me, and I'm glad of the match practice - I was enjoying the game.

"I'm in it to win it, and I know by my practising that I can play properly and give the lads a proper game. I can go out with a little more confidence, and each time I play with these new darts I'm going to get a little more confident.

"I'm practising better than ever with the new darts and I'm enjoying it. The three weeks I've had have given me a little bit of time to re-evaluate - I had a tough year but I can relax now and enjoy my career, and that makes me dangerous."

Taylor's quarter-final opponent will be Peter Wright, who also averaged over 100 as he defeated Ian White 10-7.

"I've put a lot of hard work in since the World Championship and at the back end there I won the legs that I needed to win," said number five seed Wright.

"I've got to do better than this but my game's better than this in practice and my darts have been going great. I'm pretty happy but there's loads more to come."

The £200,000 event, televised live on ITV4, will conclude on Sunday with the quarter-finals in the afternoon session and the semi-finals and final in the evening session.

2016 Unibet Masters.

Saturday January 30.

First Round.

Afternoon Session.

Robert Thornton 9-10 Dave Chisnall.

James Wade 10-8 Terry Jenkins.

Peter Wright 10-7 Ian White.

Michael Smith 10-7 Raymond van Barneveld.

Evening Session.

Adrian Lewis 4-10 Kim Huybrechts.

Phil Taylor 10-6 Jelle Klaasen.

Gary Anderson 7-10 Vincent van der Voort.

Michael van Gerwen 10-1 Stephen Bunting.

Sunday January 31.

Afternoon Session (12.45pm).


Kim Huybrechts v James Wade.

Vincent van der Voort v Dave Chisnall.

Phil Taylor v Peter Wright.

Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith.

Best of 19 legs.

Evening Session (7pm).


van der Voort/Chisnall v Huybrechts/Wade.

van Gerwen/Smith v Taylor/Wright.

Best of 21 legs.


Best of 21 legs.