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MICHAEL VAN GERWEN’s bid to to defend his William Hill World Darts Championship title ended in a dramatic semi-final defeat to eventual winner Rob Cross at London’s Alexandra Palace.

World number one Van Gerwen progressed the furthest of ZWA’s stars, with many enjoying an encouraging campaign over the festive period. 

The two-time World Champion, who had defeated Christian Kist, James Wilson, Gerwyn Price and Raymond Van Barneveld en route to the last four, was punished for missing six match-darts in a thrilling affair which went all the way down to a sudden-death leg.

Van Gerwen’s Dutch compatriot Vincent Van der Voort impressed during the tournament as he claimed back-to-back straight sets victories over Dave Chisnall and Steve Beaton before losing out to Van Barneveld in the last 16.

Spanish star Toni Alcinas also reached the third round, enjoying his best ever run at the World Championship. Alcinas began with a win against World Cup teammate and fellow ZWA ace Cristo Reyes before beating Germany’s Kevin Munch by four sets to one. He was denied quarter-final place by Darren Webster.

Recent signing Jeff Smith claimed a preliminary round win over Luke Humphries before losing out to double World Champion Gary Anderson, but Players Championship finalist Jonny Clayton was a first round casualty as he was beaten by eventual semi-finalist Jamie Lewis.