Daryl Gurney is out of the PDC World Championship after a gutsy display that forced Rob Cross to be at his brilliant best in a 4-3 third-round win.
The 2018 champion Cross was 3-1 up at one stage but Gurney rallied, taking the fifth set with an average of 102 and then somehow surviving several match darts to tie it up at 3-3.
A brilliant contest swung Cross's way in the decider though as he won the decisive set 3-1 to progress to the last 16 and send the Derryman home.
"I just couldn't get away from Daryl, he's a phenomenal player and he's back to his best," said Cross, who will face Gary Anderson or Ian White in round four.
"I didn't actually feel like I played well tonight. I should've finished the job earlier but I showed my class in the end.
"I believe I'm a better player than I was when I won it [the World Championship]. I've got the experience now, I know what I'm doing and I've got the game."
Another former winner went through to the last 16, with world number two Peter Wright overcoming Australia's Damon Heta 4-2.
Wright averaged over 110 in the last four sets to blow away his Australian opponent and set up a fourth-round meeting with Ryan Searle.
"I got away with it tonight," Wright admitted. "I tried out a new set of darts, they didn't quite work so I went back to the ones I know do work.
"I'll have to play a lot better than that to have a chance of winning the title."
Three-time world champion Michael van Gerwen had to withdraw after testing positive for Covid, meaning Chris Dobey got a bye.
Martijn Kleermaker's dream debut continued as he fought off a Joe Cullen fightback to win 4-3 in a thriller.
Dutch star Kleermaker cruised into a three set lead but Cullen stormed back before eventually losing out in seventh set tie-break.
Kleermaker raced into a two-set lead as Cullen struggled to hit doubles, taking 11 attempts to finally hit one.
That advantage became three sets when the Yorkshireman missed two darts to win the third set, allowing his opponent to pin double top.
Cullen raced through set four with three unanswered legs and survived a match dart in the fifth set, as he came back from 2-0 down to claim it with a 111 checkout.
The 13th seed then levelled the match after another three leg burst, but the deciding set reached a tiebreak at 2-2 and Kleermaker went on to win the two legs he needed – sealing a hard-fought victory with an 88 finish on the bull.
Earlier Carlow's Steve Lennon made his exit after being well beaten 4-0 by Mervyn King.
Lennon, 28, who had reached the last 32 of the tournament for the first time, just couldn't find finishing doubles and was duly punished by the experienced Englishman King.
Ranked 52nd in the world, Lennon beat Latvia's Madars Razma in the first round before knocking out 12th seed Krzysztof Ratajski in the last round with a 91.34 three-dart average. However, this was a bridge too far.
𝗔 𝗪𝗛𝗜𝗧𝗘𝗪𝗔𝗦𝗛 𝗪𝗜𝗡! 👑— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) December 28, 2021
Mervyn King breezes his way through to the fourth round, WHITEWASHING Steve Lennon in a clinical performance and he sets up a last 16 clash with Raymond Smith!#WHDarts pic.twitter.com/ZgaR54fwWP
Wednesday sees the third round action conclude before the start of the last 16, with world number one Gerwyn Price continuing his title defence against Dutch aubergine farmer Dirk van Duijvenbode.