The title-holder John "Boy" Walton crashed out of the Embassy World Championship in Frimley Green last night with a 3-2 defeat to Colin Monk.
The Yorkshireman, who demolished his five opponents on the way to the crown last year, was faced with a battle for the first time on the Lakeside stage since his rise to prominence and could not deliver the goods.
Monk, 34, a builder from Basingstoke, dug deep and took full advantage of Walton's failure to hit top form.
It was the first surprise of the tournament, with all eight seeds having reached the second round, and one that hardly looked likely when the world No 1 coasted through the first set. But then Monk hit back to lead 2-1 as the Walton began to struggle, with the 40-year-old Sheffield-based player shaking his head with disappointment as he persistently pulled his third dart.
The fourth set went to a decider and Monk had a double 18 for the match, only to miss and allow Walton to take the contest the full distance. Instead, however, of letting the wasted opportunity affect him, Monk, a semi-finalist four years ago, regrouped superbly and a 116 check-out put him one leg away from victory.
A maximum 180 at the start of the next leg compounded Walton's misery and the pugnacious Monk held his nerve for the match-winning double 10.
In the last eight, Monk will meet the eighth seed Wayne Mardle, who recovered from a slow start to beat Sweden's Stefan Nagy 3-1. Nagy began like a house on fire as he raced to the opening set, but then the fast-throwing 28-year-old from Dagenham moved into overdrive.
It was ultimately straighforward for Mardle also known as 'Hawaii Five-O-One' because of the colourful shirts he dons although he admitted he had feared the worst when the Scandinavian got off to a flyer.
"The first set was a washout for me because Stefan slowed me down so much to the point where I thought I just couldn't play against him," Mardle said.
"People have said I'm just a front-runner but I've proved them wrong tonight.
Raymond Barneveld took just 21 minutes to prevail over the Belgian Erik Clarys and reach the quarter-finals.
The Dutchman, who became only the second man to win the tournament in back-to-back years in 1998 and 1999, sped to a 3-0 victory, losing only two legs. However, the former postman from The Hague could have been made to sweat had Clarys had taken his chance in a pivotal second-set decider. The 33-year-old from Antwerp did not even have a shot at a double in the opener as Barneveld showed the form that won him November's World Masters title.
Clarys held his own in the second set and, with the advantage of throwing first, found himself with three darts at double eight to level at 1-1, only for his finishing to let him down badly. His first dart hit double 16 and bust his score, handing Barneveld the set and an unassailable lead.Reuse content