Jose De Sousa etched his name into the darting history books by becoming the first Portuguese winner of a PDC event at Players Championship 23 in Barnsley on Tuesday.
De Sousa, who won a PDC Tour Card in January having made his Alexandra Palace debut just a month prior, has shown his class on the Pro Tour throughout 2019 and he produced a number of impressive performances to seal a spot in his second ranking final in just three months.
The 45-year-old claimed a number of high profile scalps at the Barnsley Metrodome, before running out a comprehensive 8-1 winner against world number seven Gerwyn Price, to scoop the £10,000 top prize on a groundbreaking day for Portuguese darts.
“This is a dream for me, I am so, so happy,” said an emotional De Sousa. “I have fought for 25 years to come here and at last I can do this.
“It’s amazing for me to play against the best players in the world and prove I can play just like them. This is an incentive for me to continue my work and I think I can beat everybody if I continue to play this way.”
De Sousa kicked off his campaign with a 102.50 average en route to a 6-4 victory over Nathan Rafferty, before brushing aside former Lakeside champion Steve Beaton 6-1 to reach round three.
The former soft tip star edged out Ryan Meikle in a last-leg decider, which he followed up with a hard-fought win over John Henderson – who had beaten James Wade to reach the last 16.
The Portuguese number one then prevailed in his second deciding-leg shootout of the afternoon to dump out Jermaine Wattimena, which he followed up by recording an emphatic 7-3 success over Peter Wright in the semi-finals.
This set up a showdown with Grand Slam champion Price for Tuesday’s title, but the Welshman was unable to replicate the form that had seen him beat Rob Cross, Glen Durrant and Adrian Lewis in the latter stages of the day, with De Sousa averaging 95.70 to Price’s 84.80 to breeze to an 8-1 win.
De Sousa’s maiden PDC title now puts him in realistic contention for a debut at next month’s World Grand Prix with just four events remaining before the cut-off, while it was also a positive day for Martin Schindler, as the young German reached his first Pro Tour quarter-final for 11 months.
Two-time world champion Lewis defeated Schindler in the last eight, having also accounted for George Killington, Jelle Klaasen, James Richardson and Vincent van der Voort, but he was denied a second Pro Tour title of the season by a clinical ‘Iceman’.
There was frustration for Wright, who defeated Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen before falling to De Sousa in the last four. ‘Snakebite’ eased past his fellow Scot 6-3 in round two, before converting a nerveless 116 checkout in a decider to dump out Van Gerwen in the last eight.
Newly crowned European Darts Matchplay champion Joe Cullen was beaten in round one by Ross Smith, whilst Daryl Gurney, Nathan Aspinall and Dave Chisnall all bowed out at the first hurdle. Elsewhere, Raymond van Barneveld succumbed 6-4 to Simon Whitlock in an eye-catching first round tie.
Players Championship 23
Tuesday September 10
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Luke Humphries
Peter Wright 6-5 Danny Noppert
Jose De Sousa 6-4 John Henderson
Jermaine Wattimena 6-1 Josh Payne
Martin Schindler 6-5 Ian White
Adrian Lewis 6-1 Vincent van der Voort
Glen Durrant 6-5 Max Hopp
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Rob Cross
Peter Wright 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
Jose De Sousa 6-5 Jermaine Wattimena
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Martin Schindler
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Glen Durrant
Jose De Sousa 7-3 Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price 7-4 Adrian Lewis
Jose De Sousa 8-1 Gerwyn Price