Gerwyn Price prevailed in an extraordinary final against Krzysztof Ratajski to win Players Championship 27 in Dublin on Friday.
‘The Iceman’ sealed his third Players Championship title of the season in the first of two Pro Tour events taking place at the Citywest Convention Centre ahead of Sunday’s World Grand Prix, although the Welshman was forced to fend off a remarkable comeback from ‘The Polish Eagle’.
The pair have contested dramatic affairs at the UK Open and Players Championship Finals over recent years and they renewed their rivalry on the Emerald Isle, with Price holding his nerve to scoop the £10,000 prize and claim his fourth PDC title of the season.
Ratajski drew first blood in a scrappy opening leg, before Price reeled off six consecutive legs to establish a commanding 6-1 cushion, courtesy of three 12-dart legs. Nevertheless, Ratajski stopped the rot with an inspired 170 checkout and this sparked a valiant fightback.
This inspired the Pole to win six straight legs of his own; firing in a perfectly-timed maximum in leg 12 to restore parity at 6-6, which he followed up with a 16-dart hold to move to the cusp of an astonishing victory.
Price produced a clinical 121 kill to level up proceedings at seven apiece and force a decider, although Ratajski had the advantage of throw. Despite this, the former World Master spurned one match dart at double 16 and Price pounced; converting a nerveless 74 finish on tops to triumph.
Although the match was played in the quiet surroundings of a floor event, Price was visibly animated throughout, erupting as he levelled the contest at 7-7, whilst he also appeared to snub Ratajski’s handshake before the last-leg decider, which sparked debate amongst fans on social media.
Ratajski went into the final on a remarkable 11-game winning streak, having lifted last weekend’s Gibraltar Darts Trophy – his first big stage title in the PDC and his sixth ranking title in the last 18 months. However, Price ended that streak and also became the first man to defeat Ratajski in a final.
The Grand Slam champion kicked off Friday’s action with comprehensive 6-1 wins over Adrian Gray and Tytus Kanik, before edging out Simon Whitlock in an 11-leg thriller.
Price then averaged 104.80 to defeat Jermaine Wattimena 6-4, before defeating a resurgent Cristo Reyes by the same scoreline in the quarter-finals to set up a clash against Ryan Joyce. Joyce was featuring in his first PDC semi-final since February 2018 and he missed a match dart to defeat Price in their last four tussle.
Ratajski dropped just seven legs in seeing off the trio of Peter Hudson, Robert Thornton and Ronny Huybrechts, averaging 105.80 in a high-quality affair against the Belgian. The Pole then fought back from 3-1 and 5-3 down to defeat World Matchplay champion Rob Cross in the last 16.
The 42-year-old defeated Robert Owen in the quarter-finals, with Owen making his first last eight appearance since the 2018 UK Open. Ratajski then faced Mensur Suljovic for a place in Friday’s final and with the scores locked at 3-3, the Pole reeled off four consecutive legs to triumph.
Top seed Ian White suffered a surprise first round defeat against Scott Baker, whilst Gary Anderson was beaten 6-3 in a thrilling encounter against UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall at the same stage, with both men averaging over 103.
Dave Chisnall, Mervyn King, Dimitri Van den Bergh and Chris Dobey – all of whom will feature in the World Grand Prix, also bowed out in round one. Adrian Lewis was beaten in the second round by Jose Justicia, whilst Glen Durrant lost 6-1 to Reyes at the same stage, as the Spaniard made it back-to-back quarter-finals on the Pro Tour.
The second day of the ProTour double-header from the Citywest Convention Centre will see 128 players in action on the eve of the World Grand Prix, with action from Players Championship 28 being streamed live on video.pdc.tv.
Players Championship 27
Friday October 4
Scott Taylor 6-3 Michael Smith
Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Vincent van der Voort
Robert Owen 6-2 Mark McGeeney
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Rob Cross
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Jermaine Wattimena
Cristo Reyes 6-3 Ted Evetts
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Daryl Gurney
Ryan Joyce 6-5 Danny Noppert
Mensur Suljovic 6-0 Scott Taylor
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Robert Owen
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Cristo Reyes
Ryan Joyce 6-3 Nathan Aspinall
Krzysztof Ratajski 7-3 Mensur Suljovic
Gerwyn Price 7-6 Ryan Joyce
Gerwyn Price 8-7 Krzysztof Ratajski