The fourth players championship event of the season took place yesterday at the Robin Park Leisure Centre in Wigan, Greater Manchester.
Storm Dennis was causing major disruption outside but inside a storm of players battled it out in order to add their name in the Players Championship roll of honour!
Ryan Searle secured the biggest title of his career yesterday as he defeated Michael van Gerwen to become PC3 champion. Could he do an unlikely double? Will Anderson or Aspinall double their tally? Or will someone else secure glory?
Ryan Searle began his bid for a second straight PC title with a 6-3 win over Derk Telnekes. Michael van Gerwen was made to work hard against Stoke’s Andy Boulton. The world number one let slip a 3-0 lead as Boulton pegged it back to 4-4 but Van Gerwen once again got out of jail by winning the final two legs of the match and prevail 6-4.
Former UK Open semi finalist Andrew Gilding (who was a late replacement) began his return to the pro tour in beating Croatia’s Boris Krcmar with a 102.6 average and Welshman Jonny Clayton also averaged the same in beating Damon Heta 6-2. Gillingham’s Conan Whitehead averaged 103.7 in beating Keegan Brown 6-2 with Germany’s Gabriel Clemens averaging shy over 102 in beating Benito van de Pas 6-4. Stoke’s Ian White began the day with a supreme 107.6 average in beating Jan Dekker 6-3 with Darius Labanauskas providing a huge upset, beating Michael Smith 6-1 with a 103.7 average. Steve Lennon came through a decider against Mervyn King despite averaging 103, with the reigning world champion Peter Wright averaging 102.6 in his 6-1 rout over Wayne Jones.
Two players lost their first round matches despite averaging over 100. William Borland was one of them. The Scot averaged 100.1 but was still beaten 6-2 by Chris Dobey. The over was Callan Rydz. The Geordie averaged 101.4 against Mensur Suljovic but it was not enough as Suljovic won 6-3.
Other winners in the first round were Gary Anderson (6-2 over Jeffrey de Zwaan), James Wade (6-5 over Ted Evetts, came back from 5-3 down), Nathan Aspinall (6-3 over Barrie Bates), Krzysztof Ratajski (6-5 over Mickey Mansell), Adrian Lewis (6-4 over William O’Connor), Simon Whitlock (6-3 over Jamie Lewis), Glen Durrant (6-5 over Dirk van Duijvenbode), Rob Cross (6-4 over Jeff Smith, was 4-1 down), Jose De Sousa (6-3 over Yordi Meeuwisse), Luke Humphries (6-3 over Stu Wilson), Brendan Dolan (6-5 over Vincent Van der Meer), Joe Cullen (6-3 over Martin Atkins of Wigan) and Stephen Bunting (6-5 over Ron Meulenkamp).
Just like Michael Smith and Mervyn King, there were also big names that fell at the first hurdle. Dave Chisnall lost 6-4 to Spain’s Toni Alcinas, Steve Beaton lost 6-2 to Latvia’s Madars Razma and Daryl Gurney lost 6-5 to fellow countryman Gavin Carlin (Gurney’s second first round defeat of the weekend).
Ryan Searle kept his winning streak going this weekend after defeating Chris Dobey 6-4. Michael van Gerwen put in a stellar performance against Scotland’s Ryan Murray, averaging 110.9 in a 6-2 victory. Gary Anderson averaged 101 in defeating Jonathan Worsley 6-1 with Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski averaging 104.5 in his 6-4 win over Robert Collins. Luke Humphries edged past Jose De Sousa 6-4 with a 101.5 average but Joe Cullen was the only one who lost with a 100 average in Round 2. Cullen averaged 103 but still went down 6-4 to Maik Kuivenhoven.
Other winners in the second round were James Wade (6-2 over Harry Ward), Nathan Aspinall (6-2 over Robert Thornton), Adrian Lewis (6-5 over Luke Woodhouse), Ian White (6-3 over Martin Schindler), Mensur Suljovic (6-3 over Steve Lennon), Simon Whitlock (6-4 over Joe Murnan), Glen Durrant (6-5 over Jesus Noguera) and Peter Wright (6-1 over Gary Blades).
Some big names fell in round two. Jonny Clayton lost 6-3 to fellow Welshman Nick Kenny, Rob Cross lost 6-5 to Karel Sedlacek and Stephen Bunting lost 6-3 to Jason Lowe.
All great runs must come to an end and sadly it did for Ryan Searle as he lost 6-1 to James Wade in the third round. But still at least he earned himself quite a lot of money over the last two days. Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson setup a mouthwatering clash in the last 16 after Van Gerwen defeated Ross Smith 6-3 and Anderson defeated Andrew Gilding by the same score!
Jamie Hughes put in a 101.6 average in defeating Darius Labanauskas 6-1 with Glen Durrant also averaging 101 in his 6-3 win over James Wilson. Reigning world champion Peter Wright averaged 102.6 in beating Kim Huybrechts 6-4 and Karel Sedlacek produced a stunning peformance in beating Luke Humphries. The Czech player averaged 102.5 and took out finishes of 94, 64, 110, 81, 76 and 77 in that match. He also put in all 6 attempts at double. Nothing Humphries could do there.
Krzysztof Ratajski defeated Vincent van der Voort 6-3. Nick Kenny kept his fine run going in beating Conan Whitehead 6-3. Gabriel Clemens ended Toni Alcinas’ run in beating him 6-1. Adrian Lewis and Ian White defeated Madars Razma and Alan Tabern respectively with Mensur Suljovic defeating Simon Whitlock 6-4.
Nathan Aspinall was the only top player to depart in round three after losing 6-4 to Danny Noppert.
Michael van Gerwen came out on top in the fast throwing derby against Gary Anderson. The world number one needed just 50 darts in total in going 4-0 up before Anderson won 3 of the next 4 to put himself back into the match. However the world number one took out his third 11 darter of the game to secure a 6-3 win over his rival. Van Gerwen averaged 107.4 whilst Anderson averaged exactly 100 in a high quality game. Van Gerwen would face Danny Noppert in the quarter finals after Noppert produced another upset in beating James Wade 6-3.
Krzysztof Ratajski averaged 104.5 again in beating Nick Kenny 6-5 but the Pole needed to win the final two legs and survive match darts in booking his place into the quarter finals. Kenny led the Pole five times in the match but Ratajski took out an 89 finish, then put in a 17 darter in the decider after Kenny missed chances to win. Ratajski would face Gabriel Clemens in the quarter finals after the German defeated Adrian Lewis in another cracking contest. The German raced into leads of 3-0 and 5-1 before Lewis put the pressure on when closing it to 5-3. However a 14 darter in the ninth secured Clemens victory. The averages were close! Clemens averaged 103.2 and Lewis averaged 102.7.
Ian White survived a late fightback from Jamie Hughes to reach another quarter final appearance on the floor. The Diamond raced into a 5-1 lead before Hughes won three legs in a row to only be 5-4 behind. White held his nerve in the tenth with a 14 darter and prevailed 6-4. He would face Mensur Suljovic in the quarter finals after the Austrian won the last four legs to beat Glen Durrant 6-2.
Peter Wright survived a scare against Karel Sedlacek. Czech Republic’s Sedlacek took out a 126 in the first leg before racing off into an early 3-1 lead. Wright recovered to win the next two and level it at 3-3 before Sedlacek went back infront thanks to a 93 finish. However the world champion showed his class at the end, winning the next three legs to secure his spot in the quarter finals. Wright averaged 103.4 in his victory. He would face Maik Kuivenhoven in the quarter finals after the Dutchman defeated Sweden’s Daniel Larsson 6-5.
Danny Noppert’s giant killing run continued after he defeated Michael van Gerwen for the first time in his career. Noppert raced into a 3-0 lead before Van Gerwen pulled it back to 3-3, taking out finishes of 108 and 87. Noppert replied by winning two legs of his own and leave himself throwing for the match at 5-3 but Van Gerwen broke back in 13 darts to keep the match alive. However Noppert saved his best darts to last, hitting an 11 darter to win 6-4 and keep Van Gerwen’s trophy cabinet empty for 2020.
Noppert would face Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski in the semi finals after the Pole defeated Gabriel Clemens 6-4 in another cracking game. Ratajski took the first leg with an 86 finish before Clemens went 2-1 ahead, taking out the big fish in the third leg. Ratajski then reeled off four legs in a row to lead 4-2 before Clemens took the next two to level at 4-4. Ratajski then edged a tight ninth leg before taking out a 92 finish to book his spot in the semis. Ratajski averaged 106.5 with Clemens averaging 100.2, showing the high quality of the match.
Ian White reached yet another semi final on the floor after beating Mensur Suljovic 6-3. White began the match in style with a 144 finish before Suljovic won the next two to go 2-1 ahead. The next two legs were shared before White produced a four leg surge to secure victory. White would face Peter Wright in the semi finals after the world champion came from 2-0 behind to beat Maik Kuivenhoven 6-2. Snakebite averaged 112.8 in that match, the highest on the pro tour so far this year!
The semi final in the top half of the draw was between Danny Noppert and Krzysztof Ratajski. Ratajski flew out of the blocks with an 11 darter in the first leg, then took out double 8 to double his lead. Noppert landed double 10 to get on the board before Ratajski rolled home a superb 136 checkout to go 3-1 up. The Pole increased his lead to 4-1 thanks to a 12 darter in the fifth before taking the sixth to go 5-1 up. Noppert pulled a leg back thanks to an 80 finish but it was Ratajski who sealed his spot in another PC final, taking the last two legs with finishes of 132 and 64 to secure victory by 7 legs to 2. The Pole averaged 103.1 in another scintillating display. Could he go on to win his fifth PC title?
The semi final in the bottom half of the draw was between Ian White and Peter Wright. White got off to the better start, taking out a 66 finish in the first leg before landing double 4 for a 2-0 advantage. Wright slotted in a 110 finish to get on the board before White took out 56 to go 3-1 ahead. Wright won the fifth to stay in touch before White restored his two leg lead thanks to an 80 finish. Wright took out 71 in the seventh before White picked out 76 to go 5-3 up. Wright took the next with a 14 darter before finally breaking White’s throw in the tenth on double 4 after the Diamond made a mess on 40. Wright took out a 91 finish to go ahead for the first time in this semi final before White took the twelfth and set the match into a last leg shootout. It was agony for Wright as he missed three darts at double top for victory and White broke his heart with a clutch 88 finish on the bull to reach another PC final. A 103.8 average was not enough for Wright but for White it was a chance to win players championship title number ten!
After another long day in Wigan it was time for the final in Players Championship 4. The showpiece match featured Krzysztof Ratajski against Ian White. Ratajski defeated Mickey Mansell, Robert Collins, Vincent van der Voort, Nick Kenny, Gabriel Clemens and Danny Noppert on his route to the final with Ian White beating Jan Dekker, Martin Schindler, Alan Tabern, Jamie Hughes, Mensur Suljovic and Peter Wright on his route to the final. Could Ratajski win his fifth PC title? Or will White secured his tenth PC title?
Ratajski started slowly and White capitalised, taking out double 16 for first blood in the final. Ratajski nailed double 16 himself for 1-1 before White landed tops to go back infront. Ratajski took the fourth on double 2 for a 12 darter before White went 3-2 ahead thanks to double top.
Ratajski then levelled once more thanks to double top before breaking White’s throw on double 16 after White missed five darts at double to win the leg. White missed the bull for an instant break back on 84 and Ratajski took out tops second dart to go two legs clear at 5-3. White then hit double 8 for a 14 darter to go 5-4 behind before Ratajski slotted double 16 again restore his two leg gap.
White missed two at double 8 in the eleventh but returned to hit it after Ratajski missed double 16 for a 146 finish. Ratajski missed three at double 12 in the twelfth but eventually nailed double 3 last dart in the next visit to move within a leg of the title. White missed double 16 and 8 in leg thirteen but returned to hit the latter for 7-6, then produced a cracking 155 finish under pressure (with Ratajski waiting on tops for the title) to send the final into a last leg shootout! Ratajski showed great character in the decider but missed the bull for the big fish, allowing White a chance on 108 for the title. He hits treble 7 but misses the treble 17 and gives Ratajski a chance to win the title himself. The nine goes safely in, double 8 needed! AND IT’S THERE FIRST DART AND KRZYSZTOF RATAJSKI WINS HIS FIFTH PC TITLE!!! He defeats Ian White 8-7 in a thriller and the Pole celebrates as he adds another PDC trophy into his collection!
Another superb day on the floor for the Pole as he averaged over 100 in four of his seven matches today. He once again shows us that he is a cracking competitor and that his world ranking of 18 certainly backs it up!
“When Ian took out 155 it was a terrible moment for me, it made it really hard,” said Ratajski. “This tournament was sometimes lucky for me, I won a few games 6-5 and I survived match darts twice.”
“But then I played very well with averages over 100 and I feel very comfortable with the new darts I am playing with.”
“I hope this will be my best season. Last season was brilliant and I hope this one will be even better.”