ADRIAN LEWIS, Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld all suffered deciding-leg defeats in a dramatic second round at the German Darts Masters on Saturday.
The three top names were joined in exiting the event by top-ten rivals Andy Hamilton and Justin Pipe on a day of upsets and comebacks at the Glaspalast in Sindelfingen.
Lewis, whose last three tournament victories have come in Germany, saw his hopes of repeating last September's German Darts Masters triumph at the venue ended as he was edged out by Kevin Painter.
Lewis hit five 180s in the game, including one in the decider only to see Painter match his maximum before punishing a pair of misses from the world number three - at double top and ten - to step in and land tops for an 11-darter in sealing the win.
Van Gerwen, the number one seed and a two-time European Tour winner this year, was edged out in another dramatic decider by Wayne Jones, the resurgent Wolverhampton ace who punished three misses for the match from the Dutchman in the final leg by overcoming his own earlier misses by hitting double 16.
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld hit a finish of 160 during his game with Stuart Kellett, the UK Masters finalist who came back from 2-0 down to claim victory in a memorable deciding leg.
Van Barneveld was first to a double as he left 146, but the Dutch star missed double 16 to complete the combination, and Northwich's Kellett took out 88 on the bull for a famous triumph.
"It's the first time I've ever played Raymond, so to beat him is unbelievable," admitted Kellett. "I was probably a bit nervous at the start of the game but I'm so glad that the bullseye went in at the end!
"I hope I can keep it going now and I believe I can go all the way, but I've got to do it now."
World number six Hamilton, meanwhile, was whitewashed by Gary Anderson as the clinical Scot set up a third round clash with Jones courtesy of his triumph.
Pipe was the other member of the world's top ten to exit on Saturday, although he lost to in-form world number seven Dave Chisnall, whose 6-3 triumph means he now faces Painter in the last 16.
World number four Simon Whitlock had fewer problems as he swept aside World Youth Champion Michael Smith 6-2, despite the youngster opening the game with a 145 checkout.
James Wade also continued his return to action in winning fashion as he defeated Paul Nicholson 6-4, and he now meets world number eight Wes Newton in the third round.
Newton, who won the European Darts Open in Sindelfingen at Easter, was a 6-5 winner against Austria's Maik Langendorf earlier on Saturday as he sneaked through a see-saw contest.
Dutch qualifiers Vincent van der Voort and Mareno Michels will also meet in the last 16 following their impressive wins on Saturday,
Van der Voort came from 3-1 down to win 6-3 against Colin Lloyd, who took out 124 and 120 early in their contest only to pay for eight missed doubles in the sixth leg, while Michels was a 6-4 winner against Kim Huybrechts after trailing the Belgian 4-2.
Robert Thornton and Brendan Dolan were impressive winners as they set up a third round clash, with the Scot whitewashing Richie Burnett and the Northern Irish ace seeing off Ian White 6-2.
Steve Beaton was another impressive performer as he followed up his first round whitewash of Mick Todd by dropping only one leg in a heavy win over Paul Amos, and the former World Champion now plays Jamie Caven on Sunday afternoon.
Caven edged out Terry Jenkins to earn his spot in the last 16, coming from 5-4 down to force a deciding leg, which he won in 14 darts.
Peter Wright and Mervyn King will meet in the other third round game after they produced strong displays to defeat Jamie Robinson and Ronnie Baxter respectively.
Sunday's third round will be followed by the culmination of the £100,000 event on in the evening session, which features the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.
The tournament is also the last before the cut-off for places in next month's partypoker.com World Grand Prix, with van der Voort, Jones and Michels all still able to force their way into a qualifying place should they continue their progression on Sunday.
German Darts Masters
European Tour Event Seven
Saturday September 21
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm)
Peter Wright 6-2 Jamie Robinson
Mervyn King 6-3 Ronnie Baxter
Kim Huybrechts 4-6 Mareno Michels
Robert Thornton 6-0 Richie Burnett
Paul Amos 1-6 Steve Beaton
Wes Newton 6-5 Maik Langendorf
Ian White 2-6 Brendan Dolan
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Justin Pipe
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Paul Nicholson 4-6 James Wade
Simon Whitlock 6-2 Michael Smith
Andy Hamilton 0-6 Gary Anderson
Raymond van Barneveld 5-6 Stuart Kellett
Michael van Gerwen 5-6 Wayne Jones
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Colin Lloyd
Adrian Lewis 5-6 Kevin Painter
Jamie Caven 6-5 Terry Jenkins