James Wade and Jonny Clayton sealed Players Championship glory on another eventful weekend of Pro Tour action at the Barnsley Metrodome.
Four of the world’s top seven were absent this weekend, with Michael van Gerwen joined on the sidelines by Daryl Gurney, Gary Anderson and Gerwyn Price. Meanwhile, 2018 world champion Rob Cross pulled out of Sunday’s event due to illness.
The opening day of the Pro Tour double-header saw Wade clinch his first title since November’s World Series Finals and his first floor title since July 2015. ‘The Machine’ was celebrating his 36th birthday on Saturday and he kicked off his campaign with convincing wins over former Lakeside world champions Mark Webster and Christian Kist.
Wade then recorded a 6-0 whitewash over Peter Hudson, before averaging 103.50 en route to a 6-3 win over Arron Monk, which set up a quarter-final showdown against Players Championship 8 winner Adrian Lewis. ‘Jackpot’ led 5-3 but spurned three match darts as Wade prevailed in a dramatic last-leg thriller.
The nine-time major winner later edged out Scott Baker in another last-leg shootout in the last four, as ‘The Mod’ continued his fine start to life in the PDC by reaching his second Pro Tour semi-final. Wade faced Michael Smith in a repeat of their World Series of Darts Finals showdown, thrashing ‘Bully Boy’ 8-2 to claim the £10,000 top prize.
“This win means a lot to me, perhaps it would’ve meant even more a year ago but it still means a lot because I haven’t been winning things,” said Wade.“I’m so, so happy to win this, people don’t know how happy I am and now I’m excited and looking forward to the future.
“I’ve been playing well for a long time now but haven’t quite been getting the rub of the green, but today I’ve had a bit of a touch by scraping past Adrian. I still think I’m underachieving for my ability but it’s about turning up every morning and being hungry, which I am.”
However, Sunday’s event saw Jonny Clayton claim his third PDC title with an 8-4 victory over Gabriel Clemens. The Welshman’s last PDC title came at the Austrian Darts Open almost twelve months ago, but he sealed his second Players Championship crown with victory over ‘The German Giant’.
‘The Ferret’ enjoyed some fortune in the early stages of the event, surviving match darts as he edged out Northern Irish youngster Nathan Rafferty. Clayton then eased past Zoran Lerchbacher to reach the last 32, where he posted a 102.70 average to battle past Vincent van der Voort in round-three.
The Welshman fired in his second ton-plus average of the day to defeat Marko Kantele 6-2, before he came through his third deciding-leg affair of the afternoon against quick-fire Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena in the quarter-finals.
This set up a semi-final showdown against top seed Ian White but Clayton produced a sparkling display to thrash ‘The Diamond’ 7-2, before saving his best performance until last. The 44-year-old averaged 103.30 to triumph against Clemens, who has lost in all three PDC finals he’s competed in since securing his PDC Tour Card in January 2018.
“I’m enjoying playing against the best players in the world, and hopefully I can win a few more titles this year,” said Clayton. I’m chuffed to have won that final because Gabriel is a very good player and it won’t be long before he’s in the top 32 or top 16 of the world.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, Poland’s Tytus Kanik enjoyed a run to the semi-finals of a PDC event for the first time, while Spain’s Jose Justicia reached his first Players Championship quarter-final and Arron Monk reached the last eight of a ProTour event for the first time in almost seven years.
James Wade suffered a first-round exit following Saturday’s exploits, whilst Premier League stars Peter Wright and Mensur Suljovic were condemned to successive opening round defeats in Barnsley. The returning Corey Cadby won the solitary game across the weekend, as did Raymond van Barneveld, competing in his first tournaments since reversing his decision to retire.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC