Former champions James Wade and Robert Thornton progressed to round four of the UK Open on Friday evening in Bolton, with Dutch duo Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld joining them in the last 32.
Wade survived a late fight-back from Jamie Caven to eventually win 9-7 after he had led 8-4.
The two-time champion averaged over 100 in what was already his fourth win of the tournament so far, taking out a 141 finish and 85 to seal the victory.
“I played okay,” said Wade, who won the title in 2008 and 2011.
“Jamie’s form has picked up recently and there had been a few people tipping him to do well but I felt confident that I would win.
“I’m still going and it doesn’t matter at all to me who I play in the next round. I’ll take each game as it comes.”
Defending champion Thornton also averaged over 100 in his 9-7 success over Matthew Edgar despite trailing 6-4 at one stage.
“I knew Matt was a good player,” said Thornton, the world number eleven.
“I didn’t find out I was playing him until this morning because I was asleep and I’ll be doing the same while the draw is on tonight.
“I can’t get a run as hard as last year and I won it then so I’m not bothered about who I get. This tournament is there for anybody to win and if it is me holding the trophy again on Sunday, I’ll be a very happy man.”
Bookies favourite van Gerwen hit six 180s in an impressive 9-5 victory against Mervyn King and immediately set his sights on the £40,000 first prize.
“I really want to win this,” said the Premier League Champion, who has already won ten PDC titles in 2013.
“I didn’t play my best but I won and that is they way it has been going for me recently. In a way it gives me even more confidence.
“I’m on a great run and I want to keep that up for as long as I can. It was tough to take on Mervyn first but that is the way this tournament is and I am happy to play whoever I come up against because you have to beat good players to win things.”
van Barneveld missed double twelve for a nine-dart finish in his thrilling match against Michael Smith, which the Dutchman edged 9-8.
Scotsman John Henderson reached the fourth round for the first time in his career with a 9-7 victory against Scott Rand.
Henderson, who had never previously defeated Rand, had trailed 4-1 and didn’t take the lead until leg 15 but went on to secure an impressive win.
“I’m over the moon with that,” admitted the 40-year-old. “It is a personal achievement for me and emotion took over when the winning double went in.
“I’m not one to celebrate but I couldn’t stop myself then. Scott is a great player and it was a fantastic win for me.
“I take a lot of inspiration from what Robert Thornton did hear last year. I’m not saying that I’m going to do that but I’m delighted tonight and it is a huge confidence boost.”
There was disappointment for Australian pair Simon Whitlock and Paul Nicholson, however. ‘The Wizard’ lost out to Wes Newton while ‘The Asset’ suffered defeat at the hands of John Bowles.
Andy Jenkins was beaten by Stephen Bunting, while Mark Webster was knocked out by Welsh World Cup team-mate Richie Burnett.
The draw for the fourth round will take place on the completion of Friday’s play.
By Chris Murphy