Raymond van Barneveld and Brendan Dolan both crashed to shock defeats in the first round of the PDC World Championships this evening.
Dolan lost his first round match 3-0 against Belgian Kim Huybrechts. He never looked comfortable as he missed nine doubles while losing the first two sets without taking a leg.
The Belcoo man fought back in the third, but Huybrechts improved his scoring over the course of the match and eventually edged the set 3-2 to take the verdict, hitting a double six to win the decider.
The loss was a disappointing one for Dolan, who had a nine-dart finish when reaching the World Grand Prix final in Dublin in October.
Unheralded Englishman James Richardson ended van Barneveld's tournament. Richardson, the world number 85 from Rushden in Northamptonshire, ran out a 3-0 winner in an enthralling encounter played out before a disbelieving Alexandra Palace crowd.
Five-time world champion Van Barneveld from Holland had his moments, including a 180 with his first three darts and an 11-darter at the start of the third set, but 37-year-old Richardson had plenty of eye-catching moments of his own.
Richardson, who is in his first season in the PDC, enjoyed two 145 checkouts on his way to a victory that sets up a clash with Huybrechts in the last 32.
"I'm genuinely lost for words after what's happened," Richardson told pdc.tv.
"I'm a bricklayer whose just beaten the five-time World Champion in the most important tournament in darts."
Van Barneveld's 130 checkout secured the first leg of the match before moving 2-0 up on a double four.
But Richardson got one over on the Dutchman with double top at the second attempt, before taking the fourth leg with his first 145 checkout and sealing the set in the next.
Richardson won the opening two legs of the second set to make it five in a row, before a double nine got Van Barneveld back on the scoreboard. A 120 checkout sealed the second set for Richardson.
Van Barneveld retorted with two maximums in his 11-darter in the opening leg of the third set, and he made it 2-0 with a 14-dart effort in the next.
But as he did in the first set, Richardson roared back, snatching a close third leg before another 145 checkout drew him level. Van Barneveld had chances to take the decider but threw them away as Richardson sealed victory with a double 16.
"When the draw came out I really fancied the task and believed I could beat Raymond," Richardson added.
"Tonight has capped off what has been a fantastic 2011 for me."
Dave Chisnall, another Alexandra Palace debutant, also booked his place in round two after a straight-sets win over Mark Dudbridge (3-0, 3-1, 3-2). Chisnall will now play Phil Taylor in the next round.
In the final game of the night, Mark Walsh recovered from a set down to see off Warren French, who had earlier posted a 4-3 win over Connie Finnan in the preliminary round.
French showed his battling qualities to fight back from 2-0 and 3-1 down against Finnan, and began in much the same spirit in his first-round encounter against Walsh as he eased to the opening set 3-1 on the back of some solid darts.
But Walsh fired back in emphatic fashion over the next three sets, dropping just two legs while winning nine to ensure his place in the next round.