Raymond van Barneveld's PDC World Championship return ended with a 3-1 loss in the second round to former champion Rob Cross.
Van Barneveld, a five-time world champion across the PDC and BDO versions, retired after a first-round loss at the tournament two years ago only to return late in 2020.
He could not have made a better start against 11th seed Cross, the 2018 champion, making three 180s in the opening set and a 170 checkout in the second leg.
But the 54-year-old Dutchman’s form deteriorated thereafter and Cross played well enough to dominate the last three sets, losing just three legs.
Van Barneveld finished with the better three-dart average, but an abysmal 21.4% checkout percentage proved fatal to his chances.
𝗖𝗥𝗢𝗦𝗦 𝗞𝗢𝘀 𝗕𝗔𝗥𝗡𝗘𝗬! ⚡— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) December 23, 2021
Rob Cross comes out on top in the battle of the World Champions, as 'Voltage' hits seven 180s in a 3-1 victory over the returning Raymond van Barneveld!#WHDarts pic.twitter.com/dC7VfO9ZCS
Cross admitted he struggled to handle the atmosphere initially, telling Sky Sports: "It was mental. Twenty-four months with Covid I haven’t had a crowd like this and that first set I just couldn’t settle.
"Fair play to Raymond, he played absolutely brilliant. I think from there I started to settle a little bit more but it was a hard game. I’ve been playing so, so well, I’ve put a lot of time into this. I’m just so glad that I got the win."
Cross will take on Daryl Gurney in the third round after Christmas while there were also victories in the evening session for Danny Noppert and Gabriel Clemens.
Earlier, seventh seed Jose De Souza came from two sets down to defeat Jason Lowe while Alan Soutar won a dramatic clash to knock out Mensur Suljovic, taking an extended final leg 6-4 having trailed by two sets and two legs.