Ted Hankey, the winner of the Embassy World Championship in 2000 and the runner-up 12 months ago, had his title hopes laid to rest for another year last night in Frimley Green.
Hankey, nicknamed "The Count" because of his fondness for Dracula, took the first two sets of his second-round match against Wayne Jones of Wolverhampton but succumbed to a stunning fight-back and lost 3-2.
The No 2 seed Martin Adams progressed with a 3-1 victory over Steve Coote, while Bob Taylor reached the last eight for the first time, beating Co Stompe of the Netherlands by the same scoreline.
Hankey's defeat was the main talking point of the fifth day at the Lakeside Country Club, especially as he looked to be cruising through at 2-0 with his opponent yet to win a leg. But suddenly the contest turned as Jones, 36, started to find the sweet spot while Hankey's game suffered.
Jones, throwing rapidly in contrast to Hankey's languid style, began to pick off the doubles at will and, with the momentum on his side, stormed ahead with his 33-year-old Rhyl-based rival unable to respond.
"I'm amazed after the first two sets I thought I might not win a leg all match," said the former World Masters finalist. "But then they started going in and Ted threw a lot of slack darts.
"I had about seven pints before I went out there to psyche myself up and when I'm like that I play great."
Hankey paid tribute to Jones' recovery and predicted he could win the tournament. "Wayne's a great lad and played superbly," said the world No 7.
"He must have been nervous at first, but then his confidence came and he went crazy. If he keeps playing like that he's got a good crack at the title. But I'll be back to win this another two or three times."
Jones' next opponent will be Adams, who dropped the first set to the Bolton fireman Coote but gradually got on top and ran out a comfortable winner.
"Steve came out with all guns blazing in the first set, but I got my act together and I was very pleased with my performance," said Adams, the England captain. "I hit 140s and 180s and my finishing was clean. I can now have a right good drink tonight and then have a day's rest before my match against Wayne."
Taylor produced his most convincing performance since first appearing at the Embassy in 1991 to beat Stompe.
The Scot had only once reached the second round before and described his record in the tournament as "disastrous", but put the years of disappointment behind him with a 3-1 victory over the Dutchman.Reuse content