Michael van Gerwen eased into the second round of the BetVictor World Matchplay with a 10-4 win over Stephen Bunting on Monday night, as Adrian Lewis, Simon Whitlock and Rob Cross also enjoyed Winter Gardens wins.
Reigning champion van Gerwen began his bid for a third successive Blackpool triumph in dominant fashion, winning the opening seven legs without reply.
The Dutchman punished missed doubles from Bunting in three legs and landed back-to-back 13-darters at one stage as he took control, before the former Lakeside champion took three of the next four.
Van Gerwen, though, moved 9-3 up on double four, and after missing three match darts at double 19 as Bunting claimed a fourth leg, but the world number one sealed the win in style with a 160 checkout.
Whitlock won the all-Australian clash with Kyle Anderson 10-5 with some superb finishing as he moved through to the last 16.
Although Anderson – making his third successive Blackpool appearance – took out 105 and a spectacular 10-dart leg in the early stages, Whitlock’s clinical doubling helped him into leads of 4-1 and 7-2.
Anderson won three legs in a row to pull back to 7-5, but saw Whitlock edge the 13th on double 10 before punishing misses from his compatriot in the next two to complete victory.
Lewis made a winning return to action following a month out as he defeated Steve Beaton 10-7.
The Stoke ace had required an operation on a torn muscle in his lower back at the start of the month and revealed that he has struggled to practice for extended periods.
However, Lewis hit back from a leg down to take out 110 as he led 3-1, only to see Beaton win four of the next five legs as he took a 5-4 advantage.
Lewis, though, took out 78 and a 13-darter to retain the lead, and though Beaton took out 98 and 100 it was the 2013 finalist who sealed the win with an 11-darter.
Newcomer Cross made a winning debut by seeing off Ian White 10-7.
The game’s opening six legs were shared before Cross claimed three in a row before moving into a 7-4 lead.
White responded and pulled back to 8-7 but Cross regained his range on the doubles and punished two misses from White by taking out 70 to complete a memorable debut.