- World Darts Championship
Brilliant Barney lays down marker at Ally Pally
Raymond van Barneveld, the 2007 PDC world champion, succeeded where he failed last year by advancing to the second round at Alexandra Palace on Sunday.
Van Barneveld fell at the first hurdle 12 months ago, but there never threatened to be a repeat as he produced a red-hot display of darts to beat Michael Smith 3-0.
The Dutchman arrived at the tournament off the back of his first major title in over five years at the Grand Slam of Darts. The confidence from that win marked his performance against Smith, who was never allowed into the match.
The opening leg went to the underdog, but he was immediately answered by an 11-darter from Van Barneveld who took the first set with an average of 107. Another 11-darter sealed set two, before he closed out the match with a 111 checkout.
Last year's runner-up Andy Hamilton made a less-than-comfortable start to his 2013 campaign, coming from behind to defeat giant-killer James Richardson 3-1. Hamilton was on fire at Alexandra Palace last year, losing to Adrian Lewis in the final, and he will hope to go one better 12 months later.
Richardson came with a reputation, having beaten Van Barneveld 3-0 in the first round of last year's competition, and he was at it again as The Hammer started poorly. Hamilton lost the first leg against the darts and then dropped the set as he struggled to find a double.
He had to wait until his ninth dart at a double before he finally delivered a leg, and that sparked Hamilton into life as he hit back for 1-1. Richardson tried to halt his charge with a 78 against the darts and had a shot at the bull for set three - eventually taken by Hamilton.
And Hamilton managed to limp across the finishing line - sealing the match in unconvincing manner as Richardson missed a chance to force a deciding set.
It was also a struggle for Gary Anderson, who secured a 3-1 win over Jani Haavisto, winner of a preliminary match earlier in the night. Anderson matched Van Barneveld's effort by storming to the first set with an average of 107, but was then shocked as Haavisto hit back. A tight third set was snatched by Anderson, who eventually hit double-tops to end a gruelling contest.
The first match of the night went the way of Brendan Dolan, who beat Mark Jones 3-0 to reach the second round. The 39-year-old, who has reached the last-16 in two of the last three years, stole an important leg in the second set before strolling to victory.
The first stanza was a scrappy affair, sealed 3-0 by Dolan who boasted a 50 per cent checkout success rate in the match. Jones missed an easy 43 finish to hand Dolan the second set, and the Northern Irishman completed victory by nailing a 120.