REIGNING champion Michael van Gerwen crashed out of the Cash Converters Players Championship Finals with a second round defeat to Terry Jenkins at the Butlins Minehead Resort on Saturday, as Phil Taylor continued his bid to win the title for a fourth time.
World number one van Gerwen had defeated Taylor to claim last year's title in Minehead and had opened his defence with a superb win over Raymond van Barneveld on Friday night.
However, he was outplayed by nine-time major finalist Jenkins in the last 16 as the 51-year-old avenged October's loss to the Dutchman in the European Championship final.
Van Gerwen had hit back from an early 2-0 deficit to draw level and shared the next four legs before Jenkins, aided by finishes of 71, 97 and a 13-darter, took four of the next five to move 8-5 up.
World Champion van Gerwen cut the gap to 9-7, but Jenkins fired in his sixth 180 before taking out 84 on double 11 to seal the win and move through to a quarter-final with Wes Newton.
"In the European Championship final I let Michael get ahead of me, and that's when he relaxes so this time I wanted to get ahead," said Jenkins. "I punished him every time he slipped up and I kept the pressure on him.
"It's a brilliant feeling for me but I know the next game will be just as hard, so I can't get carried away. Wes isn't an easy player to beat, but I'm looking forward to it."
Jenkins now meets Wes Newton in the quarter-finals, after the Fleetwood ace continued his return to form with a 10-5 defeat of Brendan Dolan.
The game's opening half proved even as Dolan - aided by two 13-darters - held a slender 4-3 advantage before Newton embarked on a run of six successive legs to push clear, landing a pair of 13-dart legs of his own in moving 9-4 up.
Dolan finished 67 to hit back, but that was bettered by a 68 checkout as Newton moved through to the last eight of the Players Championship Finals for a second successive year.
"I've had two good games against players who are very hard to beat so I'm really happy," said Newton. "It's always a hard game against Brendan and, like Justin Pipe yesterday, he's a slower player but you've got to deal with it.
"I've struggled with the pace in the past because I prefer to play a quick player, but I had to get my head down and get the job done and I've done that again today.
"Brendan didn't play as well as he can do, but I ground the win out and I'm happy to be in the quarter-finals.
"I've had a really tough year, I struggled after the Premier League and I've had a bad three or four months but I've made a few changes and hopefully things are coming right for me at the right time."
Three-time Players Championship Finals winner Taylor continued his challenge to win back the title with a high-quality 10-7 win over Mervyn King - but was left to rue a missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish during the contest.
After Taylor established an early 3-1 lead with a break of throw in leg four, King was never able to level despite pulling back to 3-2 and 4-3.
Tops saw Taylor break again in leg eight before he opened the ninth with two 180s, before adding a seventh treble 20 and a treble 19 to keep alive his hopes of a nine-darter, only to see his dart at double 12 for the perfect leg land just inside the double 12.
He returned to finish double six for a 12-darter as he moved 6-3 up, and after King hit back on tops another two legs edged Taylor into an 8-4 advantage.
King won three of the next four to keep alive his hopes at 9-7, but Taylor opened the next with scores of 177 and 140 before taking out 84 on the bull to seal victory with an average of 103.06.
"I thought it was a good game and Mervyn stuck in really well - I couldn't shake him off," said Taylor. "He was putting me under pressure and had some brilliant finishing.
"I know I've got to sharpen up a bit for Sunday but I feel good and I'm enjoying myself. Every round now is like a final and it's exciting."
Taylor added: "I didn't feel nervous on the nine-darter and I threw the dart well at double 12, but it just dipped at the end. It would have been great to hit it, but it wasn't to be this time."
Taylor will take on Gary Anderson in the quarter-finals after the number one seed defeated Stephen Bunting 10-5, averaging almost 103 in a high-quality victory.
Bunting took out 80 and 112 to claim the first two legs and also led 3-1 before Anderson hit top gear to reel off seven straight legs in turning the game around.
The Scot's run began with a 70 finish and a 12-darter before he landed back-to-back 14-dart finishes to move 5-3 up, and when Bunting followed two 180s with five missed doubles in the ninth, Anderson took a three-leg cushion.
He also finished 130 and double five to move into an 8-3 lead, with Bunting's 13-dart leg in reply bettered by an 11-dart finish from Anderson, and though he missed one match dart in the next leg he regained his composure to seal the win in 14 darts.
"That was a harder game than the scoreline suggests so I'm very pleased to come through it," said Anderson. "It was a good game and we both enjoyed it, and I came back well after Stephen got ahead.
"I've been enjoying my darts all year and I'm looking forward to playing Phil. It's always an honour sharing the stage with him because he's the best player ever to have played the game, but he's got a different Gary on his hands tomorrow."
Vincent van der Voort won through to the last eight for the first time in the event with a 10-5 win over Peter Wright in Saturday evening's other clash.
The Dutchman had been superb in his first round whitewash of Andy Hamilton, and hit back from 3-1 and 5-3 down to see off the World Championship finalist.
Wright had hit three 14-dart legs as he took the early lead and - after van der Voort took out legs of 13 and 14 darts - another 14-darter helped him edge back two legs clear.
Van der Voort, though, found another gear as he reeled off the next seven legs without reply in a run which included two 13-dart legs, a 12-darter and an 11-darter to break throw as he progressed to a quarter-final with Dean Winstanley.
"From five-all I thought I played really well, but it was hard work," said the Dutchman. "At the beginning I was trying to keep up with Peter but my game came together well.
"I'll take it one game at a time on Sunday and Dean will be a different game to this, but hopefully I can play like I have been doing."
Winstanley won through to his first televised ranking quarter-final on the PDC circuit as he followed a victory over Simon Whitlock on Friday with a 10-5 defeat of Jelle Klaasen.
Klaasen had been in inspired form to defeat James Wade with a 108 average in their opener, but paid the price for 22 missed doubles as Winstanley progressed to the last eight.
Klaasen had held an early 2-1 lead, but Winstanley levelled with a 104 finish as he began a run which saw him claim seven of the next eight legs to move into an 8-3 advantage.
Klaasen won two of the next three to pull back to 9-5, but Winstanley followed up a 100 checkout in leg 13 by landing his fifth 180 of the game before sealing victory on double four.
"It feels fantastic to be in the quarter-finals," said Winstanley. "It's my debut in this tournament and I'm very proud to have got through two rounds.
"I believe that I can match it with the best and I'm going to give it my best shot on Sunday, and I've got a good feeling at the moment. If I can get a little bit more consistency in my game I'll be alright."
Sunday's other quarter-final will see Adrian Lewis take on Jamie Caven as Finals Day at the £300,000 tournament begins.
Lewis, March's UK Open champion on his last visit to the Somerset resort, followed up Friday's superb opening win over Dave Chisnall by powering past Smith with another heavy-scoring performance.
After sharing the game's opening two legs, the world number three claimed six successive legs - all in 15 darts or less - as he pulled clear to lead 7-1, with the run including a 121 finish for a 12-darter and three 180s.
Smith hit back by taking out tops for a 13-darter and 100 for a 14-dart finish as he pulled back to 7-3, but missed doubles in the next allowed Lewis to edge away before he finished double three and double ten to move into the last eight.
Lewis now takes on Caven in Sunday afternoon's quarter-finals, and said: "I showed a bit of class today but I feel like I've got a couple of extra gears to go yet so that's fantastic for me.
"I thought it was a professional performance, and every time Andy hit back I responded with something, and as long as I keep doing that then I've got a chance.
"It's going to be a tough game against Jamie Caven in the quarter-finals because he's been playing some fantastic darts, but I'll be ready."
Caven booked his place in the last eight by the narrowest of margins as he edged out Robert Thornton 10-9 in a thriller which saw the Scot miss double 12 for a nine-dart finish before coming from 9-4 down to force a deciding leg.
After Derby's Caven won the opening leg, Thornton hit back in style by opening the second leg with two 180s to set up a possible nine-darter.
Needing 141, he hit another treble 20 and treble 19 only to wire the double 12 - seeing a £5,000 bonus slip away by the narrowest of margins.
Although Thornton took the leg in 12 darts, Caven won the next three to take charge at 4-1 before the Ayrshire ace hit back with two more 12-dart finishes as he won three of the next five to pull back to 6-4, taking out 140 and 121 in the process.
Caven finished 64, 102 and double ten to move to the brink of victory at 9-4, only to see battling Thornton keep his hopes alive with a 13-darter.
He then finished 78, 81 and 70 to continue the fightback as Caven missed three match darts, and Thornton sent the game into the deciding 19th leg by landing double ten.
Thornton's doubling, though, deserted him at the crucial point when he saw his dart for the match at tops to complete a 120 finish land in the single one, allowing Caven to step in and finish 81 on the bull to edge through.
Caven had seen Simon Whitlock come from 9-3 down to in 10-9 in the 2013 European Championship, and admitted that he was prepared for lightning to strike twice as Thornton mounted his charge.
"I was starting to feel the pressure so it's a massive relief to win the match," said Caven. "That game against Simon probably helped me, because if I hadn't have experienced it before I'd have lost this match.
"Robert was superb when he came back and his finishing was great, and it was deja vu for me because I thought I'd lost it at the end. When Robert missed the tops I had my chance and luckily enough for me the bull went in."
Thornton admitted: "It would have been nice to have completed the comeback but it wasn't to be. I left myself too much work to do, but hats off to Jamie because he was superb.
"I've not done a nine-darter the conventional way on TV yet - the World Grand Prix was a double-start - and I'd like to do one, but the double 12 was on the wrong side of the wire this time."
Cash Converters Players Championship Finals
Saturday November 29
Afternoon Session (12.45pm-5pm)
Jamie Caven 10-9 Robert Thornton
Wes Newton 10-5 Brendan Dolan
Adrian Lewis 10-3 Andy Smith
Dean Winstanley 10-5 Jelle Klaasen
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Vincent van der Voort 10-5 Peter Wright
Terry Jenkins 10-7 Michael van Gerwen
Phil Taylor 10-7 Mervyn King
Gary Anderson 10-5 Stephen Bunting