The 2020 Betfred World Matchplay series continued to take unexpected turns as Michael van Gerwen was dumped out of the competition in the second round.
The top seed struggled once again to find his usual world-class average, as Simon Whitlock strolled to victory at the Marshall Arena, his first over van Gerwen in 16 encounters.
Whitlock was in complete control throughout the tie, sprinting ahead to a 5-0 lead as Mighty Mike's shockingly low doubles conversion rate proved to be his own downfall.
The Australian made easy work of what was expected to be a much closer encounter, and progresses to face Gary Anderson - who edged past James Wade 11-8 - in the quarter-finals.
World number two Peter Wright suffered a similar fate to his fellow William Hill World Championship winner, falling victim to Glen Durrant on night five of the tournament.
The Scotsman and reigning world champion was only just able to squeeze past Jose De Sousa in the opening round, again falling short of his usual standards as Durrant came back from 4-1 down to win five straight legs and lead 6-4 by the end of the second session.
Wright then clawed back to 8-8 with two consecutive bullseye finishes, but Durrant remained calm under pressure and stormed ahead again to claim his spot in the last eight.
Former Matchplay winner Gary Anderson continues to carry the flag for Scotland, though, winning seven legs from eight on the way to an 11-8 victory over James Wade.
Impressing in his first appearance on the Matchplay stage, Dimitri Van den Bergh pulled out two victories in two days, easing to a 10-5 first round win over Nathan Aspinall before an 11-9 triumph against Joe Cullen.
Elsewhere, two-time world champion Adrian Lewis held firm to defeat young talent Danny Noppert 11-7, whilst Polish ace Krzysztof Ratajski saw off Gabriel Clemens - a star of the first round - in a tense tie-break.
A level playing field
With more poor performances across the board from the top seeds, now is the best time for the PDC circuit to gain several new champions.
Van Gerwen and Wright both failed to impress and were dumped out of the tournament - whether or not the lock-down or absence of crowds were a significant impact would be difficult to pinpoint.
As a consequence, however, the quarter-finals could be more interesting for the neutral viewer; Gary Anderson is the only past Matchplay winner featuring in this year's final eight.
Results and fixtures
(21/07 - R1) Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-5 Nathan Aspinall
(21/07 - R2) Michael Smith 14-12 Mensur Suljovic
(21/07 - R2) Gary Anderson 11-8 James Wade
(21/07 - R2) Simon Whitlock 11-4 Michael van Gerwen
(21/07 - R2) Krzysztof Ratajski 12-10 Gabriel Clemens
(22/07 - R2) Vincent van der Voort 11-5 Daryl Gurney
(22/07 - R2) Dimitri Van den Bergh 11-9 Joe Cullen
(22/07 - R2) Glen Durrant 11-8 Peter Wright
(22/07 - R2) Adrian Lewis 11-7 Danny Noppert
(23/07 - QF) Krzysztof Ratajski v Michael Smith
(23/07 - QF) Simon Whitlock v Gary Anderson
(24/07 - QF) Adrian Lewis v Dimitri Van den Bergh
(24/07 - QF) Glen Durrant v Vincent van der Voort