Karel Sedlacek and Dalibor Smolik carry home nation hopes into second round of Czech Darts Open
Karel Sedlacek and Dalibor Smolik flew the flag for the home nation after reaching the second round of the Czech Darts Open in Prague.
Karel Sedlacek celebrated a dramatic comeback victory in his home town on day one of the Gambrinus Czech Darts Open, as Ross Smith, Jose de Sousa and Steve Beaton also progressed in Prague.
The opening day of the £175,000 event saw 16 first round ties take place in the Czech capital, with Sedlacek one of two host nation representatives to seal a spot in Saturday's second round.
Sedlacek raised the roof at the PVA Expo with a deciding-leg win over Dutch debutant Jeffrey Sparidaans, conjuring up a spectacular 170 checkout in leg six, before rallying from 5-4 down to prevail.
The 44-year-old will be joined in round two by his compatriot Dalibor Smolik, who pinned six of his seven attempts at double to deny Richard Veenstra and set up a showdown against World Youth Champion Josh Rock.
However, UK Open semi-finalist Adam Gawlas was unable to deliver on home soil, succumbing 6-3 to Madars Razma, who produced a trio of ton-plus checkouts to silence the partisan home crowd.
Host nation qualifiers Filip Sebesta and David Pisek were also sent packing in the afternoon session, losing out to Dylan Slevin and Geert Nentjes respectively.
European Champion Ross Smith produced the performance of the day in Prague, defeating Finnish debutant Jani Laurila 6-3 to set up a second round tie against reigning champion Luke Humphries.
Smith fired in seven maximums to kick off his campaign in style, averaging 99 and boasting a 60% checkout success rate to cap off an accomplished display.
"Fair play to Jani, he played really well, especially on his debut," reflected Smith, who was averaging over 108 for periods of the contest.
"I was chatting to him before the game and he's a really nice guy. His finishing was fantastic. I'm sure we will see a lot more of him.
"I've not been feeling great this week, but I will take that performance any day and I'm confident going into tomorrow now."
Steve Beaton produced a superb display of combination finishing to dump out Darius Labanauskas, converting 117, 110, 77 and 76 checkouts in the closing stages to recover from a 4-2 deficit.
Vincent van der Voort ran out an emphatic 6-1 winner against 2019 champion Jamie Hughes in his opener, punishing Hughes' doubling woes to create a tie against UK Open champion Andrew Gilding.
Kim Huybrechts breezed through to round two in similarly comprehensive fashion, dispatching an out-of-sorts Callan Rydz to wrap up his first European Tour victory of 2023.
Jose de Sousa was another high-profile winner on Friday, averaging 98 and landing five 180s to defeat Bradley Brooks 6-4, which sets up a second round meeting with former UK Open champion Danny Noppert.
Martijn Kleermaker will face Austrian Darts Open winner Jonny Clayton for a place in round three on Saturday evening, after racing to an impressive 6-3 victory against Stephen Bunting in Friday's finale.
Elsewhere, Brendan Dolan defied a late Jelle Klaasen fightback to set up a clash with world number three Peter Wright, rounding off a clinical display to dump out the resurgent Dutchman.
Belgian duo Mario Vandenbogaerde and Mike De Decker also moved through to round two in the Czech Republic, after celebrating 6-4 wins against Matt Campbell and Ian White.
Vandenbogaerde defied a 170 checkout from Campbell before rallying from 5-3 down to triumph, while De Decker crashed in four 180s to fend off a spirited rally from Stoke-on-Trent star White.
Meanwhile, Martin Lukeman kicked off Friday's action with a 6-2 success against Hungary's Patrik Kovacs, while Swiss star Stefan Bellmont saw off Rowby-John Rodriguez to continue his emergence.
The 16 seeded players enter the tournament in Saturday's second round, with top seed Humphries and three-time World Champion Van Gerwen amongst the names set to take centre stage.
2023 Gambrinus Czech Darts Open schedule and results
Friday May 12
Martin Lukeman 6-2 Patrik Kovacs
Stefan Bellmont 6-4 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Geert Nentjes 6-5 David Pisek
Mario Vandenbogaerde 6-5 Matt Campbell
Dylan Slevin 6-3 Filip Sebesta
Dalibor Smolik 6-4 Richard Veenstra
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Jelle Klaasen
Mike De Decker 6-4 Ian White
Jose de Sousa 6-4 Bradley Brooks
Vincent van der Voort 6-1 Jamie Hughes
Ross Smith 6-3 Jani Laurila
Steve Beaton 6-4 Darius Labanauskas
Madars Razma 6-3 Adam Gawlas
Kim Huybrechts 6-1 Callan Rydz
Karel Sedlacek 6-5 Jeffrey Sparidaans
Martijn Kleermaker 6-3 Stephen Bunting
Saturday May 13
Andrew Gilding v Vincent van der Voort
Josh Rock v Dalibor Smolik
Damon Heta v Dylan Slevin
Ryan Searle v Steve Beaton
Dave Chisnall v Geert Nentjes
Martin Schindler v Kim Huybrechts
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Mario Vandenbogaerde
Nathan Aspinall v Martin Lukeman
Danny Noppert v Jose de Sousa
Rob Cross v Madars Razma
Peter Wright v Brendan Dolan
Michael van Gerwen v Mike De Decker
Joe Cullen v Karel Sedlacek
Luke Humphries v Ross Smith
Jonny Clayton v Martijn Kleermaker
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Stefan Bellmont