James Wade claimed a third PDC title in the space of eight days after completing a memorable Players Championship double on a thrilling weekend of darts in Barnsley.
Prior to this month, ‘The Machine’ hadn’t won a Players Championship event since July 2015, but the nine-time major winner claimed Players Championship 11 & 12 glory to secure his third floor title in four events.
Wade defeated Michael Smith to seal Players Championship 9 glory last week and history repeated itself at the Barnsley Metrodome on Saturday, as the left hander defeated ‘Bully Boy’ for the second weekend in succession to claim the £10,000 top prize.
The Aldershot ace kicked off Saturday’s action by posting a 110 average en route to a whitewash win over Eddie Dootson, before edging out Joe Murnan in a deciding leg. Wade then saw off Vincent van der Voort to reach the last 16, where he overcame Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 with a 102.70 average.
The European Champion defeated Players Championship 10 winner Jonny Clayton by the same scoreline to reach the last four, where he edged out top seed Ian White 7-5 to seal his place in Saturday’s showpiece. For the second straight Saturday, Smith awaited Wade in the final.
‘Bully Boy’ fired in an incredible 26 maximums throughout the afternoon, as he came through four last-leg clashes to reach his second Pro Tour final in a week. Two of those victories came against Peter Wright and Glen Durrant, while the World Championship finalist accounted for Steve West in the semi-finals.
Smith led Wade 4-2 in the final, but ‘The Machine’ recovered superbly, winning six of the remaining eight legs to prevail in a gruelling contest, averaging 91 to Smith’s 85 as he notched his 14th win in the last 15 meetings between the pair.
After his Saturday success last week, Wade suffered a first-round exit on Sunday at the hands of Jose Justicia. Nevertheless, the nine-time major winner completed the double for the first time in his PDC career after producing a stirring fightback against Jeffrey de Zwaan in Sunday’s final.
‘The Machine’ narrowly avoided an opening round exit after edging out Luke Woodhouse 6-5, before piling in a 108.70 average to whitewash Christian Kist in round-two. Wade came through his second deciding-leg affair of the afternoon against Ted Evetts, before averaging 104.70 to close out a 6-4 success against Stephen Bunting.
For the second straight day Wade defeated Welsh number two Jonny Clayton in the last eight, before claiming the scalp of Smith in the semi-finals, in a repeat of Saturday’s final. Smith led 4-2, but Wade reeled off five consecutive legs to record his fourth win over the St Helen’s star in the space of three weeks.
‘The Machine’ found himself trailing 4-0 to De Zwaan in the final game of the weekend, but he produced a typically resilient display to take his weekend winnings up to £20,000. The Dutchman missed darts for a 5-0 lead and Wade won eight of the next nine legs to triumph.
“When you get to my age and you haven’t played so well for five years, it’s really special to win back-to-back titles,” said Wade.“I thought I was dead and buried in the final. I was feeling a little bit tired and I didn’t play anywhere near as well as I did in two or three other games today.
“But I’m really happy to win. I’ve been playing this game at the top level for 15 years now but the best may be to come. The sky’s the limit and hopefully I can win a few more.”
Although De Zwaan was denied a second PDC title, he performed superbly to reach his fourth Pro Tour final – his first for almost twelve months. The World Matchplay semi-finalist posted averages of 103.5, 102.5 and 106.8 in his wins over Steve Beaton, Glen Durrant and John Henderson respectively en route to the final.
Two-time world champion Adrian Lewis suffered back-to-back first round exits on a disappointing weekend, while Glen Durrant reached consecutive quarter-finals to continue his strong start to life in the PDC. Meanwhile, Harry Ward landed a nine-dart finish in his win over William O’Connor on Saturday, the 18th perfect leg on the PDC circuit in 2019.
However, there were a host of big-name absentees in Barnsley this weekend. The Premier League trio of Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross and Mensur Suljovic all withdrew earlier in the week, while two-time world champion Gary Anderson missed out with an elbow injury.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC