World number three Peter Wright clinched his tenth PDC title of the year after edging out seventh seed Kim Huybrechts in a dramatic deciding-leg at the International Darts Open in Riesa on Sunday evening.
The Scottish star flattered to deceive in the early stages of the tournament, but produced his best two performances when it mattered to clinch his fifth European Tour title of the year- to become just the fourth man in history to have won ten PDC titles in a calendar year.
‘Snakebite’ trailed 4-2 at one stage, but won four of the remaining five legs to triumph in a thrilling deciding-leg. The UK Open champion averaged 102.65, landed three maximums and converted 40% of his attempts at double, as Huybrechts lost out with a 92.44 average, four maximums and a 50% checkout success rate.
‘The Hurricane’ made the perfect start; posting an early maximum and punishing three missed doubles from Wright to take out an exhibition-style 95 checkout (S19, D19, D19). Wright then crashed in a 171 and found tops for a 14-dart leveller, before Huybrechts dispatched a clinical 96 kill for the third successive break after more misses from Wright.
The Belgian extended his lead with a nerveless 70 outshot via D16, but Wright responded magnificently; posting two maximums and sinking D16 for an emphatic 11-dart hold to reduce the deficit to 3-2.
The pair exchanged maximums in a high-quality sixth leg as Wright left himself on 41 after just 9 darts for the second straight leg, but he spurned two darts to level up proceedings and Huybrechts pounced; crashing in D8 for a 15-dart hold to restore his two-leg cushion.
However, the top seed upped the ante in the latter stages to turn the contest on its head. He reduced the arrears to 4-3 with a 13-darter via D18, before conjuring up an effortless 101 checkout to restore parity at four apiece.
The UK Open champion then converted tops with his last dart in hand for a 15-dart hold and a third straight leg to move to the cusp of glory, before Huybrechts sank D10 to force a dramatic deciding-leg.
However, ‘Snakebite’ had the advantage of throw in the decider, which ultimately paid dividends. He kicked off the leg with consecutive 140’s to seal control, before producing a classy 116 finish to clinch the title with a sublime 12-darter.
Earlier in the day, Wright kicked off Sunday’s action with a scrappy 6-4 win over Kim’s younger brother Ronny. Snakebite averaged a modest 90.02, fired in two maximums and converted just 30% of his double attempts, but it was still enough to defeat ‘The Rebel’, who bowed out with an 88.11 average and a 33% checkout success rate.
The Scot then recorded another hard-fought victory over Jelle Klaasen, who was appearing in his first quarter-final since recovering from surgery. There was little to choose between the pair in the scoring stakes or averages, but Klaasen’s 22% checkout success rate cost him, as Wright triumphed 6-4 with a respectable 94.26 average.
The UK Open champion then faced new-look Dutchman Ron Meulenkamp in the last four. Meulenkamp, who has shedded over four stone in weight over recent months, secured victories over Mick McGowan, Michael Smith, Josh Payne and Dennis Nilsson to reach the first ever European Tour semi-final.
He performed superbly in the biggest game of his career, averaging 105.89, landing four maximums and taking out a spectacular 167 checkout. However, Wright remained composed throughout; averaging 103.65, registering three maximums and dispatching 50% of his darts at double to record a 6-3 victory.
However, Kim Huybrechts’ progression to the final was slightly less serene. He began Sunday’s proceedings with a dramatic deciding-leg victory over Ian White in a fiercely contested affair. White boasted a higher average, more maximums and a better checkout percentage than his opponent, yet it was the Belgian who prevailed.
Huybrechts averaged 97.51, registered three 180’s and converted 46% of his attempts at double, producing a sensational final leg where he left 61 after just 9 darts. ‘The Diamond’ averaged 100.58, piled in four maximums and boasted a checkout conversion rate of 50%, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome the Premier League star.
In the quarter-finals, the Belgian faced UK Open finalist Gerwyn Price, who dumped out defending champion and recent Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic in an absolute thriller in the last 16. However, in a feisty last eight clash, Huybrechts defied a spirited late fightback from Price to prevail 6-4.
There was little to choose between the pair, with the Welshman averaging 99.04 compared to Huybrechts’ 99.79, whilst they both recorded four maximums apiece. However, ‘The Hurricane’ posted a 46% checkout success rate compared to Price’s 33%, which ultimately proved to be the decisive factor in a high-quality affair.
In the last four, the Belgian faced Joe Cullen, who was vying for a place in his first European Tour final. ‘The Rockstar’ posted a sensational 113 average in his opening match on Saturday afternoon, before registering successive 6-3 wins over Alan Norris and Simon Whitlock respectively to seal his semi-final berth.
Huybrechts stormed into an early 3-0 lead in the semi-final, before Cullen missed D18 for an incredible 9-darter in the fourth leg. This galvanised him briefly, but ‘The Hurricane’ was always in control and breezed to victory with a 90.99 average and an impressive 55% checkout conversion rate.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Sunday September 24
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)
Peter Wright 6-4 Ronny Huyrebchts
Jelle Klaasen 6-4 Peter Jacques
Dennis Nilsson 6-5 Dave Chisnall
Ron Meulenkamp 6-3 Josh Payne
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Mensur Suljovic
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Ian White
Joe Cullen 6-3 Alan Norris
Simon Whitlock 6-1 Mervyn King
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm BST)
Peter Wright 6-4 Jelle Klaasen
Ron Meulenkamp 6-2 Dennis Nilsson
Kim Huybrechts 6-4 Gerwyn Price
Joe Cullen 6-3 Simon Whitlock
Peter Wright 6-3 Ron Meulenkamp
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Joe Cullen
Peter Wright 6-5 Kim Huybrechts