Saturday morning was the opening night of the Japan Darts Masters, a tournament that in recent times has brought the best out of the top European seeds. This year they were joined by 8 Japanese qualifiers, 2 of which made it into the second round of the World Cup of Darts earlier this month.
Katsuyo Aiba was the closest of all the Asian players to make it through to the second round, Aiba took 4 legs off former World Champion Raymond Van Barneveld including a break of throw in the forth. The Dutchman showed his class in the later legs despite struggling for the most part.
The final visitor to the stage, Peter Wright, put on the most impressive performance of the night with a 6-1 victory over Japan number one Haruki Murumatsu. He hit a tonne plus average which included an 11-darter in the third leg. Murumatsu got the crowd off their feet with a 180 but couldn’t stop ‘Snakebite completing his 5 leg triumph.
Stephen Bunting opened the night with the 6-1 demolition of Shitaro Inoui. Bunting set the tone for the evening with a scintillating checkout ratio of 75%. Something that couldn’t be matched by the semi-professional Inoui. He did give the home crowd something to cheer about with a fantastic 118 checkout in the second leg.
Home favourite Morihiro Hashimoto nicked 2 legs away from James Wade, but never really put Wade under enough pressure to break his methodical rhythm. Wade didn’t give Hashimoto a sniff on his throw, hitting the doubles with ease, and looking like he was in control throughout the match.
Yuki Yamada put in an excellent performance against World Champion Gary Anderson despite getting just two legs on the board. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was certainly not taking Yamada easily, hitting consistent high scores to ease past the Japanese qualifier. Yamada scored his second leg with an exhilarating 121 checkout, but even this couldn’t stop Anderson romping to a 6-2 win.
World number one Michael Van Gerwen whitewashed Chikara Fujimori 6-0 in his opening round match. The Dutchman made it look easy against the lacklustre Fujimori, he put a show on for the crowd leaving the bull to get the crowd cheering. Van Gerwen was left disappointed with last weekend’s European tour exit in Riesa and will hope to regain his form with a win in Yokohama.
Adrian Lewis trounced Sho Katsumi 6-0 in the third match of the night. Lewis opened the game well, but was a bit patchy on his doubles at times. Lewis’ superior scoring was enough to see off Katsumi.
Masumi Chino put up a valiant effort against 16 times World Champion Phil Taylor. The man from Stoke took the opening three legs before Chino broke in the forth, Taylor professionally rounded off the first round victory giving Chino very few opportunities to make him pay.