World number nine Wayne Mardle fought back from a set down to see off the brave challenge of America’s Ray Carver on the opening night of the Ladbrokes.com PDC World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace in England.
Carver threw seven maximums in the match, including one in the deciding leg of the opening set, which he won 3-2.
Essex-based Mardle then raced into the lead before Carver, the world 51, levelled at two each.
But the Englishman, three times a semi-finalist in the tournament, sealed the final set with a double six to claim a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
“I’m over the moon to get through that game,” Mardle said afterwards.
“I’ve been playing great on the circuit this year but been atrocious in the TV events. I want to change that and believe I can win this.”
Earlier, world number 30 Mark Walsh won by the same margin against fellow Englishman Adrian Gray, ranked three places below him.
Walsh raced into a 2-0 lead an appeared on course to cruise into the second round before Gray edged the third and found top form to level the match.
But Walsh completed checkouts of 97 and 110 in the final set as he clinched a thrilling victory.
St Helens player Alan Tabern had the honour of claiming the tournament’s opening win as he saw off Danish qualifier Per Laursen 3-1.
World number 18 Tabern, who fought through to the quarter-finals last year, was pegged back after taking the opening set but eventually came through at a canter with the help of several legs against the throw.
“I wasn’t too happy because I can play much better than that,” said Tabern afterwards.
“I’m waiting for the day that I take my performances from the floor tournaments onto the stage.
“I was hoping for a good performance but getting through is the main thing and I would have taken that before I came.”