STEVE WEST enjoyed a dream debut at the Unicorn World Grand Prix with the performance of his life to defeat Phil Taylor, as Michael van Gerwen overcame a potential banana skin against Steve Beaton in Dublin.
Waltham Abbey's West had only qualified for the World Grand Prix by reaching the final of the last Players Championship before the cut-off just over a week ago - but showed that he belongs amongst the world's best with an inspired display.
Taylor, the 11-time World Grand Prix winner, hit back from a leg down to take the opening set 3-1, and shared the first four legs of the second set to move a leg away from the win.
West, though, finished 101 for a second time as he took the set to level before winning the decider 3-1 for the biggest win of his career.
"I'm gobsmacked," said West, the world number 52 who now meets Daryl Gurney in Wednesday's second round. "It's the biggest moment in my whole darting life - there's no words for it.
"I'm glad I battled through it and got through. Phil's an absolute legend and no-one can express what he's done for this game - it's an honour to play him even, and to beat him is unreal.
"I believe in myself, I know what I can do and I've just got to carry it on. If I can, I'm going to go far."
Northern Ireland's Gurney, who returned to action on Friday after a month sidelined with a broken bone in his throwing hand, overcame Austria's Mensur Suljovic in a deciding leg as he moved into the last 16 for the first time.
"I'm over the moon and so glad to get through that," said Gurney. "I've not won here before so I'm very pleased because Mensur's a great player.
"My hand's still not 100 percent but maybe I need to break it more often if it helps me get through!"
World number one van Gerwen moved through to a meeting with debutant James Wilson in round two by coming from a set down against Steve Beaton.
Beaton produced an outstanding 135 finish as he claimed the opening set 3-1 from a leg down, but van Gerwen reeled off six straight legs to storm through, sealing the win with a 118 checkout.
"I'm really happy with my performance," said van Gerwen, who averaged an impressive 97 in the double-start format. "Steve did well but I think I produced something really special in the last six legs.
"The format goes up now and it suits me because you don't have to worry about one mistake."
Huddersfield's Wilson also came from a set down, against Ireland's Mick McGowan, as he sealed victory by claiming the decider 3-0 on his debut in the double-start format.
"I took a bit of time to settle in and I was a little bit nervous, but I got into my game," said Wilson, ranked 48th on the PDC Order of Merit. "I want to keep playing the way I am and hopefully things will keep going my way because I'm doing quite well at the minute."
World number five Peter Wright joined Taylor in being knocked out as he lost in straight sets to 2011 World Grand Prix runner-up Brendan Dolan, who now meets 2013 finalist Dave Chisnall.
"It's a very special win because my form hasn't been great this year," said Dolan, who had warmed up for the event with his marriage to Teresa last week. "I got stronger as the game went on and it's a great boost.
"Dave's another Premier League player and he's a brilliant player. He's got to the final of this tournament before so it should be nip and tuck."
Chisnall, meanwhile, overcame a power cut - forcing a 20-minute delay - and the loss of the first set against Robbie Green before he moved into the last 16.
"I didn't turn up for the first set, and the power cut probably helped me," admitted Chisnall. "I wasn't at my best but I got through it and I can look forward now to the next round."
Alan Norris celebrated his World Grand Prix debut with a 2-1 defeat of number eight seed Michael Smith, who took the first set 3-1 but saw his rival take out 156 and 136 on his way to victory as he set up a meeting with Australia’s Simon Whitlock.
Whitlock was another player to win from a set down as he overcame Joe Cullen, winning six of the game's final seven legs to continue his revival, after winning his first ranking title for two years on Saturday.
The second round of the £400,000 double-start tournament begins on Tuesday, with the four matches including World Champion Gary Anderson up against Australia's emerging Kyle Anderson.
World number three Adrian Lewis meets two-time Dublin finalist Raymond van Barneveld, two-time runner-up Terry Jenkins faces young Dutch star Benito van de Pas and Stephen Bunting takes on Kim Huybrechts.
Unibet World Grand Prix
Monday October 3
First Round x8
Dave Chisnall 2-1 Robbie Green
Mick McGowan 1-2 James Wilson
Mensur Suljovic 1-2 Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith (8) 1-2 Alan Norris
Joe Cullen 1-2 Simon Whitlock
Phil Taylor (4) 1-2 Steve West
Michael van Gerwen (1) 2-1 Steve Beaton
Peter Wright (5) 0-2 Brendan Dolan
Tuesday October 4 (7pm)
Second Round x4
Terry Jenkins v Benito van de Pas
Stephen Bunting v Kim Huybrechts
Gary Anderson v Kyle Anderson
Adrian Lewis v Raymond van Barneveld
Wednesday October 5 (7pm)
Second Round x4
Alan Norris v Simon Whitlock
Brendan Dolan v Dave Chisnall
Steve West v Daryl Gurney
Michael van Gerwen v James Wilson
Second Round - best of five sets, best of five legs per set.
ROBERT THORNTON begins his defence of the Unibet World Grand Prix title on Sunday evening as the £400,000 double-start tournament begins at Dublin's Citywest Hotel.
Scottish ace Thornton stunned world number one Michael van Gerwen with a thrilling performance as he claimed the title 12 months ago with a narrow 5-4 win in the final.
The world number seven will open up his challenge to retain the £100,000 title against Stephen Bunting when the 32-player event commences on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
Having also hit a nine-dart finish two years ago, an achievement made more memorable with the need to both begin and end every leg with a double, Thornton has fond memories of the Citywest Hotel as he prepares to face Bunting.
"It meant everything to me to win last year and it is really good tournament for me because my big strength is double top," he added.
"My form hasn't been the best since winning it but I'm sure it will come back in Dublin because I feel so comfortable there.
"I can give anybody a game on my day and I'm quietly confident it can all click together for me again."
Sunday's opening session also features World Champion Gary Anderson taking on Jamie Caven, world number three Adrian Lewis up against Jelle Klaasen and two-time champion James Wade meeting Terry Jenkins in a repeat of the 2007 final.
Two other former finalists, Mervyn King and Raymond van Barneveld, face off, while Gerwyn Price faces Benito van de Pas, Ian White plays Kim Huybrechts and Australia's Kyle Anderson takes on fellow debutant Cristo Reyes.
Monday sees the first round conclude with the remaining eight matches, including 11-time World Grand Prix winner Phil Taylor meeting Dublin debutant Steve West.
Taylor won last week's Champions League of Darts event in Cardiff, and said: "I'm really looking forward to this, my confidence is high after last week and I've had a good preparation."
World number one van Gerwen, the pre-tournament favourite with sponsors Unibet, begins his bid to win a third World Grand Prix title against Steve Beaton in another big clash on Monday.
"I don't like not having this title and I want it back," said the Dutchman. "It is a very special one for me because it was the first one I ever won in the PDC.
"Robert Thornton got the better of me in the final last year but I have waited to put that right. I'm in great form and I am only thinking about winning. That is my only aim and I will be very disappointed with any other result."
World number five Peter Wright meets Northern Ireland's Brendan Dolan, the 2011 runner-up who is on a high coming into the event following his marriage to partner Teresa on Wednesday.
"With all the excitement in my life at present, there will maybe be less pressure on my shoulders and I can relax a little bit," said Dolan.
"I suppose darts has taken a bit of a back seat over the last month or two with the preparations for the wedding but I've given every event my best shot and I'll continue to do that.
"Peter's the number five in the world and playing well at the moment so he'll be hard to beat, but the format is short and a lot of it is about coming out of the blocks quickly and putting pressure on your opponent."
2013 finalist Dave Chisnall opens Monday's action against debutant Robbie Green, Austria's Mensur Suljovic - a semi-finalist last year - plays Northern Ireland's Daryl Gurney, Joe Cullen plays Simon Whitlock and Michael Smith faces Alan Norris.
Unibet World Grand Prix
Schedule of Play
Sunday October 2 (7pm)
First Round x8
Kyle Anderson v Cristo Reyes
Ian White v Kim Huybrechts
James Wade (6) v Terry Jenkins
Gerwyn Price v Benito van de Pas
Adrian Lewis (3) v Jelle Klaasen
Robert Thornton (7) v Stephen Bunting
Gary Anderson (2) v Jamie Caven
Mervyn King v Raymond van Barneveld
Monday October 3 (7pm)
First Round x8
Dave Chisnall v Robbie Green
Mick McGowan v James Wilson
Mensur Suljovic v Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith (8) v Alan Norris
Joe Cullen v Simon Whitlock
Phil Taylor (4) v Steve West
Michael van Gerwen (1) v Steve Beaton
Peter Wright (5) v Brendan Dolan
11/10 Michael van Gerwen
4/1 Phil Taylor
6/1 Gary Anderson
20/1 James Wade
22/1 Adrian Lewis
25/1 Dave Chisnall, Peter Wright
28/1 Mensur Suljovic
40/1 Raymond van Barneveld
50/1 Kim Huybrechts, Michael Smith
66/1 Jelle Klaasen
80/1 Stephen Bunting, Robert Thornton, Ian White, Simon Whitlock
100/1 Joe Cullen, Daryl Gurney, James Wilson, Benito van de Pas
150/1 Kyle Anderson, Mervyn King, Alan Norris
200/1 Jamie Caven, Brendan Dolan, Robbie Green, Terry Jenkins, Gerwyn Price
300/1 Steve Beaton
400/1 Cristo Reyes, Steve West
750/1 Mick McGowan
First Round: Best of three Sets. Best of five Legs per Set. All Legs must begin and end with a double.
First Round Match Odds
13/25 Kyle Anderson v 6/4 Cristo Reyes
Evs Ian White v 4/5 Kim Huybrechts
3/10 James Wade v 5/2 Terry Jenkins
6/5 Gerwyn Price v 4/6 Benito van de Pas
13/25 Adrian Lewis v 6/4 Jelle Klaasen
9/10 Robert Thornton v 9/10 Stephen Bunting
1/5 Gary Anderson v 18/5 Jamie Caven
7/5 Mervyn King v 5/9 Raymond van Barneveld
2/5 Dave Chisnall v 2/1 Robbie Green
8/5 Mick McGowan v 1/2 James Wilson
1/2 Mensur Suljovic v 8/5 Daryl Gurney
3/5 Michael Smith v 13/10 Alan Norris
9/10 Joe Cullen v 9/10 Simon Whitlock
2/19 Phil Taylor v 11/2 Steve West
1/9 Michael van Gerwen v 11/2 Steve Beaton
3/10 Peter Wright v 51/20 Brendan Dolan
Odds courtesy www.unibet.co.uk and correct at time of writing. Subject to fluctuation.