MICHAEL SMITH came out on top in a thrilling battle against Mervyn King, as Benito van de Pas and Ian White joined him in the last 16 of the William Hill World Darts Championship after the second round began on Friday with a double session at Alexandra Palace.
Smith fought off the tenacious King in an epic seven leg contest, which saw the St Helens ace fire in 14 180s to reach the third round for the fourth consecutive year.
The former PDC Unicorn World Youth Champion missed five darts to take a more comfortable 4-1 victory before King hit back to force a deciding set tie-break, where Smith finally prevailed.
"I should have seen Mervyn off earlier," said Smith, who went on to reach the quarter-finals at Ally Pally last year.
"He just wouldn't leave me alone. He was like a cat with nine lives. Mervyn is a fighter and he nearly got me there.
"Credit to him but I'm happy that I got the job done. That's the main thing and whoever I play next has to play me, not the other way round."
Smith will take on the winner of the post-Christmas second round match between James Wade and Steve Beaton.
Holland's Van de Pas also came through a nail-biting encounter and survived a missed match-dart from veteran star Terry Jenkins.
Van de Pas, who has won a trio of PDC ProTour titles in 2016, produced a gutsy 110 checkout in the tie-break to help him progress to round three for a third time.
"What a game," said the 23-year-old, who recently reached the quarter-finals of the World Grand Prix and World Series of Darts Finals.
"I'm a real fighter and I know how to finish games. The pressure was high but I was very relaxed.
"I'm playing better and better on the stage and step by step, I'm moving closer to achieving my goals."
White claimed a comfortable triumph against Wales' Jonny Clayton, who failed to recover from losing the first three sets, eventually going down 4-1.
Number 14 seed White hit eight 180s to follow up his first round success against Kevin Simm with another convincing victory.
White will take on Peter Wright or Jamie Lewis in the last 16 as he bids to he match his previous best run at the World Championship, having reached the quarter-finals in 2014.
Friday's evening session opens as 2010 finalist Simon Whitlock meets Darren Webster, with World Champion Gary Anderson then facing Andrew Gilding before two-time champion Adrian Lewis comes up against Joe Cullen.