Michael van Gerwen failed to end a 10-year wait for a nine-darter on Sky TV – twice missing the bullseye after eight perfect darts across only three legs.
The three-time champion of the world missed the bullseye for a rare perfect leg in the double-in double-out format at the Morningside Arena in Leicester on Thursday – only to do the same in the following set.
The 34-year-old took on Chris Dobey for a place in the quarter-finals and was two-nil down in the opening set as he pinned a perfect 160 start before a maximum of 180. 161 required, Mighty Mike hit the treble 20 and treble 17 to leave the bull – but dragged his effort into the 25.
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Losing the first set 3-1, Van Gerwen opened up the second set with another 160, before opting to hit three treble 19s to leave 170. Back-to-back 60s followed to again leave the central target – but this time the Dutchman's final dart slipped down into the top of the single three column.
The crowd were just as gutted as the world No. 2 on both occasions, with Dobey going on to rally from 2-1 down to win 3-2 and book a spot against Joe Cullen in the last eight.
Will Michael van Gerwen retire as the greatest player of all time? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
Reacting on social media, one fan posted: "I genuinely can’t believe this. It’s madness." A second added: "How is he playing so bad yet so good at the same time."
A third said: "I’m watching it and still don’t believe it, incredible!" A fourth agreed: "Oh my word that would have been sensational."
A fifth concluded: "How the f*** does he do it, in terms of ways to go for a 9 it would have been the greatest ever."
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In terms of televised nine-darters, only three players have ever managed it at the World Grand Prix, the only televised event to require a double to start the leg.
Brendan Dolan, who took on the nickname of the History Maker, was the first to hit a nine-darter at the tournament back in 2011. James Wade and Robert Thornton are the only others – doing so against each other in 2014.
Van Gerwen, who has hit nine televised nine darters including against Luke Humphries in the World Series Finals in September, hasn't managed one live on Sky since the PDC World Darts Championship in 2012.
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