Krzysztof Ratajski incredibly made it back-to-back PDC title victories with a 6-4 triumph over Adrian Lewis in the final of Players Championship 22 at the Barnsley Metrodome on Sunday afternoon.
‘The Polish Eagle’ followed up his triumph at Players Championship 21 with another stunning display to scoop the £10,000 winner’s prize and become the third player this year to complete Players Championship doubles; following in the footsteps of Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson.
Ratajski has now astonishingly secured three PDC ranking titles in 2018, despite not holding a Tour Card, but his latest triumph ensures he will feature at next month’s Players Championship Finals in Minehead. He also now has a provisional spot at the Grand Slam, and he is assured of a place at the World Championship in December.
The former World Masters winner kicked off his campaign with successive 6-2 victories over Cameron Menzies and Zoran Lerchbacher, before easing past Terry Temple 6-3 to set up a last 16 showdown against world number five Daryl Gurney.
Ratajski trailed the former Grand Prix champion 4-3 but displayed the fighting qualities which underpinned his victory on Saturday, winning the final three legs in 15, 16 and 15 darts to triumph 6-4.
The 41-year-old then defeated Premier League finalist Michael Smith 6-4 in the last eight, to set up a showdown with Kyle Anderson for a place in the final. ‘The Original’ enjoyed a welcome return to form in Barnsley, posting three ton-plus averages throughout the day.
He averaged 102.60 in a 6-3 win over Robbie Green, before posting a 108 average in a 6-0 demolition of Jermaine Wattimena. However, he went one better in the last eight, registering a sublime 113.10 in a 6-4 win over Mensur Suljovic. However, Anderson’s run was ended by the Pole, who battled to a 6-4 win in a scrappy affair.
The final got off to a brilliant start, with the first four legs all going with throw in 15 darts or under. Lewis then squandered three darts at tops to break throw in the fifth, and Ratajski sank D16 with his last dart in hand to regain the initiative.
The two-time world champion responded by conjuring up an inspired double-double 97 finish to level up proceedings, before the next two legs were shared as the dominance on throw continued. Ratajski then moved to within a leg of victory by pinning D16 for a ninth straight hold, before hitting the same target in the following leg to clinch glory.
Ratajski, who is the 14th different winner on the Players Championship circuit in 2018, reflected: “I can’t believe it, for me this is really something impossible but I’ve done it again. I don’t know how I did it but for me this is a perfect weekend – I am so happy! I’ve beaten some really great players this weekend but I have big respect for all of them.”
Although the day ultimately ended in frustration for Lewis, it was another encouraging day for the two-time world champion, who was appearing in his fourth Pro Tour Final of the season.
‘Jackpot’ recorded a 6-3 win over Chris Quantock in his opening-round tie, before edging out Robert Thornton in a last-leg decider. The Stoke-on-Trent ace then sealed his spot in the quarter-finals with consecutive 6-3 wins over Jamie Hughes and Jamie Bain, to set up a clash with James Wade, who was appearing in his 75th Pro Tour quarter-final.
‘The Machine’ led 3-2 but Lewis won four of the final five legs in 15, 11, 14 and 14 darts to clinch his semi-final spot, where Luke Humphries awaited. Last year’s Development Tour winner confirmed his return to the Alexandra Palace with a brilliant performance in Barnsley, but Lewis ran out a 6-3 winner in the semi’s with a 101.80 average.
Earlier in the afternoon, Dutchman Jimmy Hendriks landed a nine-dart leg in his first round game with Mark Wilson, the second perfect leg of the weekend after Andrew Gilding achieved the feat on Saturday. Despite this, Hendriks’ run was ended in round-two, after he was whitewashed by an imperious Michael Smith.
World champion Rob Cross suffered his second early exit of the weekend after losing 6-2 to Jan Dekker in the second-round, whilst Simon Whitlock and Ian White- who tops the Players Championship Order of Merit after the 22 events, were beaten at the first hurdle.
Gary Anderson withdrew from today’s event despite posting 110 and 109 averages on Saturday afternoon, whilst Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Gerwyn Price, Max Hopp and Cristo Reyes were also absent for the second successive day at the Barnsley Metrodome.
Photo Credit: PDC