Mark McGeeney beats Matt Campbell to set up Ricky Evans meeting at World Darts Championship
Mark McGeeney swept aside Matt Campbell to mark a successful World Darts Championship debut.
A 3-1 success against Campbell, who was also making his World Championship bow, sets up a second round tie against Ricky Evans for McGeeney.
The pair settled in well at the Alexandra Palace; Campbell's 15-darter to open was countered by a cool 126 finish from McGeeney.
A former BDO World Darts Championship finalist, McGeeney is no stranger to the big occasion, and looked in the zone as he snatched a break, following up with a first 180 and a cool 66 finish to claim the opening set 3-1.
The Gladiator rode his luck at the start of set two, with Canadian qualifier Campbell missing two darts for a break.
Another pair of missed attempt at the double were punished in the second leg, as McGeeney checked out 110 to double his advantage.
Campbell fought back with a break of his own, and missed tops for a 160 checkout to force a decider, but the Pro Tour qualifier reversed the tide instantly to take a 2-0 lead in sets.
Gladiator survives a blow
McGeeney, evidently enjoying the famous Ally Pally atmosphere, looked at home on stage. His ruthless finishing contrasted with the profligate Campbell, with the outer ring proving the CDC star's undoing in the first portion of the game.
Such wasteful darts weren't evident at the start of the third set. After unusually leaving himself 34 for the fist leg, Campbell checked out with the first dart to hold. And with McGeeney's form seemingly abandoning him, an opening appeared for the man who claimed two CDC titles in 2019.
But Campbell failed to capitalise, and McGeeney pounced to keep the set on throw. With the Englishman threatening a key break, the Ninja came out of nowhere was a stunning 147 checkout. That prompted a power shift in the set, leading to Campbell sealing it with tops.
McGeeney won the opening leg of set four with ease and looked likely to break, but Campbell struck back by scoring 340 in six darts, and landing double 10 at the second attempt for a hold.
Having had no 180s until the last leg of the third set, Campbell found a maximum three times in three legs to pile on the pressure. But after Campbell missed the big number twice when on 66 for a 2-1 lead, McGeeney found double five to hold, to his visible relief.
Campbell wasn't daunted by the match hanging in the balance; after McGeeney spurned double 10 for the match, the Canadian landed a pivotal double five and forced a decider.
Nervousness marred the opening exchanges of said decider, before Campbell edged in front. 80 was needed to save the set, but a wayward first dart offered McGeeney tops for the match. And he made no mistake, striking the red bit with his first dart to confirm a second round clash with fellow Englishman Evans.
PDC World Darts Championship 2020 schedule
Saturday 14 December, evening session
Mark McGeeney (93.66) 3-1 (88.33) Matt Campbell (R1)
Jamie Hughes vs Zoran Lerchbacher (R1)
Raymond van Barneveld vs Darin Young (R1)
Rob Cross  vs Kim Huybrechts (R2)