Damon Heta defied the odds to defeat reigning champion Rob Cross and clinch his first PDC title in a dramatic conclusion to the 2019 Brisbane Darts Masters on Saturday.
Heta celebrated his 32nd birthday in style at the BCEC, becoming the first Australian to reach the final of a World Series event since Kyle Anderson and Corey Cadby contested the 2017 Auckland Darts Masters, and the first to do so in his home country.
World Matchplay champion Cross defeated Van Gerwen in last year’s showpiece and he appeared destined to retain his crown, until he was edged out by the home hero in a thrilling last-leg decider.
Cross started strongly and a sublime 11-dart break in leg four saw him open up a 3-1 lead. Heta responded instantly however; capitalising on six missed darts at double from ‘Voltage’ before conjuring up an inspired 164 checkout – his second of the tournament – to restore parity at three apiece.
The next three legs went with throw before Cross converted a clinical 90 kill in leg ten to restore his two-leg cushion and move to within two legs of victory. Nevertheless, history repeated itself as Heta broke straight back, before closing out a solid 15-dart hold to level proceedings at 6-6.
Cross regained the lead before spurning one match dart in the penultimate leg to hand ‘The Heat’ a reprieve. Cross had the throw in the decider but Heta fired in a stunning 170 to leave 32 after 12 darts and after ‘Voltage’ was unable to take out 142, the Aussie triumphed inside 14 darts on double 16.
“It’s unexplainable,” said Heta. “I have just grown throughout this whole tournament. I have worked hard for this and it’s paid off in the end and I am just super stoked. I have got to pinch myself just to make sure it’s happening, I am lost for words.
“I know what I can do and how good I can be and today I showed the world. To do that in front of an Australian crowd was amazing and hopefully I’ll be able to come over to the UK soon and when I do people better watch out.”
The DPA number one defeated James Wade in his opener on Friday and he caused another big upset in the quarter-finals to see off two-time world champion Gary Anderson.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ was virtually flawless in the finishing department against Corey Cadby although his last eight display couldn’t have been more contrasting. The Scot missed 24 darts at double and Heta took full advantage to prevail 8-6 with a 92.52 average.
In the semi-finals Heta faced his compatriot Simon Whitlock, who whitewashed his World Cup partner Kyle Anderson in the quarter-finals. Whitlock extended that sequence of winning legs to lead 3-0 against Heta, but the qualifier won eight of the next 11 legs to record another 8-6 win.
Heta then produced his performance of the tournament to deny Cross a second successive Brisbane Darts Masters crown. The world number two led from the outset, but the Australian delivered the goods when it mattered to triumph with a 95.86 average and a brilliant 67% checkout success rate.
However, Cross continued from where he left off at the Winter Gardens to reach his first World Series final of 2019. He kicked off the day with an 8-4 victory over five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, despite averaging 95.73 to Van Barneveld’s 96.71.
This set up a semi-final showdown against Daryl Gurney, who he defeated at the same stage of the World Matchplay exactly a fortnight ago. The Northern Irishman booked his place in the last four with an impressive 8-5 win over Michael van Gerwen, his third victory against MVG in 2019.
However, once again Gurney was thwarted in the semi-finals by the former world champion, as Cross averaged 105.30, landed five maximums, produced a 170 checkout and converted 50% of his attempts at double to wrap up an emphatic 8-3 win over the two-time major PDC winner.
“I’ve played well this week and been feeling good since Blackpool but fair play to Damon he deserved it tonight,” Cross said. “I had my chances but that means nothing if you don’t take them so I just have to say well done to Damon and prepare myself for Melbourne.”
The fourth World Series event of 2019 and the second of the tour Down Under will see some of the world’s best players head to the Melbourne arena for the third staging of the Melbourne Darts Masters on August 16-17.
Photo Credit: PDC/DartsPlace