Alan Norris edged out former world champion Jelle Klaasen in a thrilling last-leg decider to win his maiden European Tour title at the German Darts Championship in Hildesheim on Sunday evening.
Norris performed with tremendous consistency throughout the tournament and averaged 97.48 in the final, over eight points more than Klaasen. Yet the decisive factor was the finishing. Norris hit 75% of his attempts at double, winning four of the final five legs to scoop the £25,000 winner’s cheque and secure himself a Grand Slam spot next month.
Klaasen landed the first blow, kicking off the final with a maximum, before converting a regulation 54 finish for an 11-dart break of throw. Norris threatened an instant break back after posting a magnificent 171, but Klaasen extended his advantage with a sublime 132 checkout (25, T19, Bull).
Norris was scoring prolifically and opened his account with a classy 13-darter, before leaving tops to once again pressure the Dutchman’s throw. Nevertheless, Klaasen regained his two-leg cushion with a tremendous 134 finish, culminating on D7.
Klaasen spurned an opportunity to establish a three-leg cushion in leg five and Norris reduced the arrears to 3-2 after pinning tops. However, ‘The Cobra’ maintained his lead after hitting D18 to complete a solid 16-dart hold.
Klaasen was finishing superbly but Norris remained unperturbed. The 44-year-old landed his first maximum and nailed tops for a 13-darter, before restoring parity at four apiece after clinically converting 90 in two-darts to round off a sensational 11-dart leg.
‘The Cobra’ attempted to stop the rot after kicking off the ninth leg with his second maximum, but after he missed the bullseye for a third ton-plus checkout, Norris clinched his third straight leg on D18 to move within a leg of victory.
‘Chuck’ momentarily lost his scoring power in a very scrappy tenth leg which Klaasen sealed in 24 darts to force an eleventh and final leg. Norris had the advantage of throw in the decider and that proved pivotal; he recorded successive scores of 140 before pinning D4 to complete a 72 checkout, sealing the second PDC title of his career.
Norris produced some stunning darts throughout the day to reach his first European Tour final. ‘Chuck’ fired in five maximums as he came from 4-1 down to defeat fourth seed Ian White in the last 16. The Stoke star appeared in cruise control, but Norris reeled off five successive legs and finished with an average of 92 to progress to the last eight.
In the quarter-finals, Norris comprehensively saw off the in-form Steve West to reach his first ever European Tour semi-final. West fired in four maximums, but Norris was far more clinical, averaging 92.13 and converting an impressive 55% of his double attempts.
The former Lakeside finalist faced darts-control’s Mensur Suljovic in the semi-finals, with the Austrian vying to reach his third European Tour final in his last four attempts. In the last eight, Suljovic produced an inspired comeback from 4-1 down to defeat Daryl Gurney, who had defeated world number one Michael van Gerwen in the preceding round.
The Northern Irishman was dominating his quarter-final clash with Suljovic, but the Austrian won five successive legs to secure victory, producing finishes of 121, 106 and 141 to complete the comeback.
Nevertheless, Suljovic was on the wrong end of a comeback in the semi-finals, as Norris survived one match dart to edge through in a thrilling last-leg decider. It was a very tight contest but Norris produced the goods in the decisive moments, averaging 93.96 and landing three maximums.
On the other side of the draw, Klaasen kicked off Sunday afternoon with a high-quality 6-2 victory over Cristo Reyes. The Spaniard performed superbly and averaged over 103, but Klaasen was ruthlessly proficient; recording a 102.86 average, landing four maximums and converting 60% of his doubles to seal his progression to the quarter-finals.
In the last eight, Klaasen faced fifteenth seed Joe Cullen, who performed magnificently in dumping out Peter Wright in the previous round. However, the Dutchman proved too explosive for ‘The Rockstar’, averaging 99.75 and registering four maximums to record a hard-fought 6-4 triumph.
‘The Cobra’ faced former European Tour winner Dave Chisnall in the semi’s, after Chizzy had defeated Justin Pipe and Mark Webster earlier in the day. Chisnall raced into a commanding 4-1 lead but Klaasen responded magnificently, reeling off five successive legs to complete the comeback and seal his place in the final with a 94.79 average.
2016 HappyBet German Darts Championship
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Justin Pipe
Mark Webster 6-5 Terry Jenkins
Jelle Klaasen 6-2 Cristo Reyes
Peter Wright 3-6 Joe Cullen
Ian White 4-6 Alan Norris
Kim Huybrechts 5-6 Steve West
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 David Pallett
Michael van Gerwen 4-6 Daryl Gurney
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm BST)
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Mark Webster
Jelle Klaasen 6-4 Joe Cullen
Alan Norris 6-2 Steve West
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 Daryl Gurney
Dave Chisnall 4-6 Jelle Klaasen
Alan Norris 6-5 Mensur Suljovic
Alan Norris 6-5 Jelle Klaasen
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC