The third players championship event of the season commenced today at the Robin Park Leisure Centre in Wigan, Greater Manchester.
After a thrilling opening two events last week in Barnsley, the pro tour returns to Wigan for some more darting action and drama. Today is the first of two events with the second being played tomorrow.
What surprises, shocks and entertainment will today bring?
Michael van Gerwen began the day in supreme form. The world number one averaged 107 in beating fellow Dutchman Yordi Meeuwisse 6-1. Jonny Clayton averaged 104 in his 6-4 win over Hong Kong’s Kai Fan Leung with Dirk van Duijvenbode keeping up his excellent form of late in averaging nearly 105 in whitewashing Nick Kenny. Darius Labanauskas averaged nearly 107 in thrashing Andy Hamilton with Chris Dobey also averaging over 106 in edging Madars Razma 6-4. Austria’s Rowby John-Rodriguez averaged over 107 in his 6-1 win over Scott Waites, the highest of the first round. Jose De Sousa defeated Jason Lowe 6-4 with a 102 average with Dave Chisnall averaging 106 in beating Devon Petersen by the same score. Joe Cullen averaged over 100 in whitewashing Luke Woodhouse with Wesley Harms also winning with a whitewash over Gary Blades, averaging nearly 105. William O’Connor averaged nearly 101 in beating Christian Bunse 6-4 and both Michael Smith and Josh Payne put in big performances too. Smith averaged nearly 104 in beating Adrian Gray 6-2 and Payne averaged over 106 in beating reigning world youth champion Luke Humphries.
The match of the first round was an epic game between Mensur Suljovic and Jeff Smith. Canadian Smith raced into leads of 4-1 and 5-2 before Mensur came back to level at 5-5, hitting the sixth nine darter of the pro tour this year in the tenth leg. The Austrian hit back to back 180’s before taking out 141 on double 18 for perfection. Suljovic then won the decider to secure a 6-5 win. Averages from both players were at an alarming rate with Suljovic averaging 107.1 and Smith averaging 104.0!
Other first round winners were James Wade (coming from 5-3 behind to beat Kim Huybrechts 6-5), Peter Wright (6-3 over Simon Stevenson), Simon Whitlock (6-3 over Robert Thornton), Adrian Lewis (6-5 over Darren Penhall, despite leading 4-0 at one stage), Brendan Dolan (6-4 over Justin Pipe), Steve Beaton (6-4 over Bradley Brooks), Ian White (6-3 over Steve Brown), Gary Anderson (6-2 over Jamie Hughes), Nathan Aspinall (6-0 over Jesus Noguera), Krzysztof Ratajski (6-5 over Toni Alcinas), Glen Durrant (6-3 over Matthew Edgar, trailed 3-1) and Lisa Ashton (6-4 over Dimitri van den Bergh)!
Big names fell in the first round! Mervyn King lost 6-3 to Finland’s Marko Kantele, Daryl Gurney lost to Greece’s John Michael 6-5, Gerwyn Price surrendered a 4-1 lead to lose 6-4 to Ryan Searle and Rob Cross lost 6-4 to Scott Baker.
Michael van Gerwen was put in a right battle against William Borland. The young Scot tested the world number one but Van Gerwen came through it 6-4, dodging a potential upset. Mensur Suljovic once again averaged over 100 to beat Darius Labanauskas 6-4 with Norwich’s Darren Webster crushing James Wade 6-1, averaging over 102!! 2008 World Matchplay quarter finalist Matt Clark averaged over 100 in his 6-3 upset win over Jose De Sousa with Greece’s John Michael following up his win over Daryl Gurney with a 103 average in disposing Carl Wilkinson 6-1. Glen Durrant averaged over 100 in defeating Conan Whitehead 6-0 and Michael Smith averaged over 104 but still only edged Benito van de Pas 6-5!
2017 BDO World’s runner up Danny Noppert put in the highest average of the day so far (107.3) in beating Andy Boulton 6-2. The Dutchman nailed the seventh nine darter on the pro tour this year and the second of the day in the first leg of their match.
Other winners in the second round were Jonny Clayton (6-3 over Wayne Jones), Chris Dobey (6-3 over Maik Kuivenhoven), Stephen Bunting (6-3 over Marko Kantele), Peter Wright (6-5 over Adam Huckvale), Simon Whitlock (6-4 over Rowby-John Rodriguez), Adrian Lewis (6-1 over Boris Krcmar), Joe Cullen (6-1 over David Palett), Nathan Aspinall (6-5 over Matthew Dennant), and Krzysztof Ratajski (6-5 over Scott Mitchell, was 5-1 behind). Lisa Ashton scored another win on the tour, beating Adam Hunt 6-4!
Some big names (like James Wade earlier) did not make it past round two! Jermaine Wattimena was whitewashed 6-0 by Dirk van Duijvenbode, Dave Chisnall lost 6-2 to Steve West, Steve Beaton lost 6-4 to Geert Nentjes, Ian White lost 6-5 to Max Hopp (despite averaging 103) and most famously Gary Anderson, who despite coming from 5-1 down, lost in a decider to Wesley Harms!
Michael van Gerwen survived a massive scare from Newcastle’s Ryan Joyce! Joyce had match darts to beat the world number one, but they failed to go in the double and Van Gerwen escaped by the skin of his teeth 6-5. World champion Peter Wright coasted past Simon Whitlock 6-2 with Adrian Lewis whitewashing Matt Clark 6-0.
Glen Durrant, Michael Smith and Joe Cullen were other third round winners but Lisa Ashton’s run was over as she lost 6-1 to the Polish Eagle, Krzysztof Ratajski.
Jonny Clayton, Mensur Suljovic and Nathan Aspinall all bowed out at this stage. Clayton lost in a decider to Dirk van Duijvenbode, Suljovic lost to Chris Dobey 6-3 and Aspinall lost 6-4 to local lad Joe Murnan.
Michael van Gerwen coasted his way through to the quarter finals after beating Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-2! The world number one averaged 104.6 in a vintage display, taking out finishes of 81 and 88 along the way. He would face Chris Dobey after the world grand prix semi finalist defeated former world champion Stephen Bunting 6-2, averaging over 100.
Peter Wright defeated Adrian Lewis 6-5 in a cracking contest between the two world champions. Adrian Lewis took out a 141 finish in going 5-2 up but Wright showed us why he is the world champion, winning the last four legs to win 6-5 (taking out finishes of 103,85 and 74 in the last three). The averages were pretty close between the two with Wright averaging 104.6 and Lewis averaging 104.7. Wright would face Joe Cullen in the quarter finals after the 30 year old from Bradford swatted aside Ted Evetts 6-1!
Jeffrey de Zwaan came through an all Dutch battle against Vincent van der Voort, with the world matchplay semi finalist winning 6-4. He would face another Dutchman in the quarter finals, Danny Noppert! Noppert came through 6-4 against Joe Murnan.
Ryan Searle kept his fantastic run going! The 32 year old from Wellington in Somerset had already defeated Gerwyn Price in the first round today and now he defeated Michael Smith 6-4 to reach the quarter finals, where he would face Glen Durrant! Durrant averaged 104 in his match against Krzysztof Ratajski but he still needed to comeback from 3-1 down to win 6-5!
Michael van Gerwen needed his comeback boots again as he denied Chris Dobey of a famous victory! The first four legs were shared before Dobey won three on the spin to move within a leg from victory! However the world number one found an extra gear after that, taking out 124 to cut it to 5-3 and then won the last three in 14, 14 and 13 darts to snatch it 6-5. He would face Peter Wright in the semis and in a rematch of the 2020 world final after the reigning world champion defeated Joe Cullen 6-3 with an outstanding 108.4 average.
Ryan Searle defeated Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith so far today, but he added another Premier League player on his hitlist in Glen Durrant! Searle raced into a 3-1 lead (which included a 121 finish) before Durrant took out a pair of 17 darters to level at 3-3. Searle took out a 120 finish on route to leading 5-3 but Durrant took the next two in 13 and 14 darts to set up a decider. However, Searle slammed in an 68 finish to secure a 6-5 victory and he would face Jeffrey de Zwaan in the semis after the young Dutchman defeated his countryman Danny Noppert 6-3.
The semi final in the top half of the draw was between Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright. These two have colided with each other many times, but who would come out on top in this occasion?
It was the reigning world champion Wright who started the stronger, surging to a 2-0 lead before Van Gerwen took out a 14 darter to get on the board. Van Gerwen then levelled the match with another 14 darter then checked out on 81 to take the lead for the very first time. Van Gerwen then took out 74 for 4-2 then pinned tops for a 5-2 lead! Van Gerwen took out 88 to move within one of the final but Wright then pinned tops to stay in the match. However it was Van Gerwen who prevailed 7-3, taking out tops to reach another PC final, averaging 101.3. Could the reigning players champion add another title to his C.V?
The semi final in the bottom half of the draw was between Jeffrey de Zwaan and Ryan Searle. Both players had reached a final in the players championship events, but who would secure another final spot?
De Zwaan flew out of the traps like a greyhound, slamming in a 141 finish in the first leg then picked out double 8 to go 2-0 ahead. Searle then took out the same target to get back in it then levelled with a 65 finish. De Zwaan rolled in a 122 finish (his second ton plus finish of the match) to go back ahead before Searle landed double 18 for a 13 dart finish and 3-3! Both players shared the next two legs before Searle broke throw in the ninth to lead for the very first time. De Zwaan instantly broke back in the tenth but Searle retrieved the break in style, taking out a 157 checkout to go within one of the final. Searle then hit a 14 darter to secure a 7-5 victory and reach his second PC final. Could he finally win his first PC title?
128 players came in with a chance to win, now just two remain. It’s the world number one Michael van Gerwen taking on Somerset’s Ryan Searle. Van Gerwen defeated Yordi Meeuwisse, William Borland, Ryan Joyce, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Chris Dobey and Peter Wright on his route to the final whilst Searle defeated Gerwyn Price, Michael Barnard, Josh Payne, Michael Smith, Glen Durrant and Jeffrey de Zwaan on his route to the final. Could Van Gerwen add another trophy into his long cabinet? Or will Searle cause a shock and win his first PC title?
It was Somerset’s Searle who hit the ground running, taking out 84 on the bull to break Van Gerwen in the first leg, then took out tops second dart to double his lead. Van Gerwen missed the big 20 in the third and Searle took out tops on 60 for a 3-0 lead against the world number one! Searle nearly made it 4-0 but missed the bull for a 124 finish and Van Gerwen took out 81 last dart on double 12 to finally get on the board.
Van Gerwen then finally hit his foot on the gas, taking out 80 on tops to cut it back to 3-2 then slotted in double 9 to level the match at 3-3. The world number one made it four legs in a row in slotting double 10 to take the lead for the first time in the final but Searle would not bow down, taking out 78 on tops to level it at 4-4. However Van Gerwen then slotted in a world class 164 finish to lead 5-4 but Searle didn’t flinch, he once again levelled the final with double 8 and it was set for a thrilling climax!
Then came a crucial moment. Van Gerwen missed double 18 for a 156 finish and Searle took out double 10 to break and go back infront! Van Gerwen then broke straight back on the same bed for 6-6 but then missed a dart at double 4 to move within one of glory and Searle bagged double 6 to move within a leg of his first PC title! Searle showed no nerves, leaving tops after 12 and HE SEALED IT FIRST DART TO CLAIM HIS FIRST EVER PC TITLE BEATING MICHAEL VAN GERWEN 8-6!!!!
A life changing achievement for the 32 year old from Somerset, who suffers from blurred vision by the way! But he’s finally claimed the biggest trophy of his career and after beating four Premier League stars in Price, Smith, Durrant and Van Gerwen on route, it was a title that is very well deserved!
“I just can’t believe it,” said a very emotional Ryan Searle. “It’s extra special to beat Michael in the final, it’s a dream.
“I’ve been practicing a lot in my little man cave back home and playing out scenarios in my head – playing Michael in a final was one of them.”
“When you get these chances you just have to take the opportunity and thankfully I did today.”
“I think I let myself down a bit at the World Championship when I lost to Gary Anderson.”
“I still don’t think I’ve played my best, but I know what I can do.”
Players Championship Order Of Merit 3 of 30 events
Ryan Searle’s first ever PC title moves him up to second on the order of merit with Van Gerwen lying in fourth place after his run to the final. Nathan Aspinall remains top of the charts on £12,500 with Searle second as mentioned on £11,500. Gary Anderson is in third with £10,500. William O’Connor currently holds 64th spot, which is where the cut off is before the PC Finals in November.
The Players Championship returns tomorrow for event number four. Can Searle score the weekend of his life in claiming the double? Will Van Gerwen succeed second time out? Or will another player shock us under the spotlight in Wigan? All will be revealed tomorrow!