Adams triumphed in a classic Lakeside match, despite trailing for much of the contest against an opponent who lived up to his ‘Relentless’ nickname. Indeed a break in the third leg helped Joyce secure the opening set, and he also led 2-1 against his more illustrious opponent.
Adams looked in real danger of a second straight first-round exit at that stage, but he recovered to mount a comeback during an 11-dart leg in the fourth and pave the way for a decider.
Joyce broke in the opening leg and held for a 2-0 lead, only for checkouts of 129 and 86 to allow Adams to level the match at 2-2.
Competition rules demand victory by two clear legs in a deciding set before a sudden-death leg kicks in at 5-5. Adams was able to keep in touch of his opponent, as he took out 115 after Joyce had missed double 18 for the match.
Joyce then pulled off his own remarkable escape act at 4-5 down, sealing a score of 164 with a bullseye – with Adams sitting on a double-five finish.
It was a temporary reprieve, however, as the 60-year-old won the right to throw first in the winner-takes-all leg by hitting bull, before clinching the win on double nine with the help of a 180.
Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski was also made to battle to a 3-2 victory against Willem Mandigers of the Netherlands. It was a far more straightforward evening for England’s Paul Hogan, though, as he cruised to a three-leg victory over Tom Sawyer of the United States, with fellow Englishman Scott Mitchell also enjoying a comfortable win over New Zealand’s Mark McGrath to progress. Mitchell delivered his own 3-0 success.