Nathan Aspinall made history by becoming the inaugural winner of the revolutionary PDC Home Tour on Friday evening, courtesy of three successive wins against Gary Anderson, Jonny Clayton and Jelle Klaasen in a star-studded Championship Group.
Following 42 nights of action in the home-staged event which saw over 100 PDC Tour Card holders competing across the globe, Friday’s Championship Group featured two world champions, a major winner and a televised finalist in the shape of Clayton.
Aspinall was the highest-ranked player in the group and he demonstrated his pedigree with a series of sparkling displays, averaging 98.67 and firing in 15 maximums across the course of the evening to claim the honours.
By his own admission ‘The Asp’ struggled to adapt to the unique concept in the tournament’s infancy, but as top operators so often do, he delivered the goods in the latter stages of the event to add the Home Tour crown to his growing haul.
Two-time world champion Anderson boasted an average of over 101 on the night but had to settle for second spot, whilst Premier League challenger Clayton claimed third spot above Klaasen, who ended the night winless but can take plenty of positives from an encouraging campaign.
Aspinall and Klaasen kicked off the night’s action and ‘The Asp’ produced a blistering barrage of scoring to complete a 6-3 success. The world No 7 stormed into a 3-0 lead, landed six maximums and threatened a nine-darter to prevail with a 97 average, and ‘The Cobra’ had no answer.
However, Anderson underlined his intent as he kicked off his campaign with a scintillating 6-2 win over Clayton. The Welshman did little wrong but was blown away by the two-time world champion, who averaged 109.20 and fired in a brace of 12-darters and a majestic 10-dart leg.
This set up a must-win clash between Clayton and Klaasen in the evening’s third tie. Clayton was the more impressive performer in their respective openers and that pattern continued, as he fired in three maximums and averaged 96 to triumph 6-2 and keep his title hopes alive.
The fourth match was the most anticipated of the evening, as Premier League stars Aspinall and Anderson locked horns. The pair shared the spoils on Night Six in Liverpool – incidentally the last televised PDC clash prior to lockdown.
Once again it didn’t disappoint, with Aspinall edging to a 6-5 victory in a pulsating clash which featured nine maximums. The Scot established an early 2-0 buffer, but Aspinall responded superbly.
The former UK Open champion reeled off three consecutive legs to wrestle back the initiative and although Anderson hit back to force a decider, Aspinall completed a 13-dart hold in the decider to prevail with a 106.40 average to the Scot’s 101.20.
This curtailed Anderson’s 10-game unbeaten run on the Home Tour, but he bounced back with a 6-3 win over Klaasen in the penultimate game of the tournament to inflict a third straight defeat on the Dutchman and force Aspinall into winning his clash against Clayton to claim the title.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ breezed into a 2-0 lead for the third straight game, only for Klaasen to open his account with a spectacular 144 checkout. The former BDO world champion then restored parity at three apiece, but Anderson regained control to double his points tally for the night.
This set up an enthralling finale and Aspinall started strongly to lead 2-0, only to suffer a mid-game slump as Clayton capitalised to edge 3-2 ahead. Nevertheless, Aspinall recovered to some tune, reeling off three straight legs in 14, 11 and 14 darts to move to the cusp of glory.
Clayton refused to relent and pinned a clinical 104 combination to reduce the arrears and keep Anderson’s hopes alive, but Aspinall wasn’t to be denied, crashing in yet another maximum and nailing double eight to claim the title with a nerveless 15-darter.
Aspinall should have been embarking on the defence of his US Darts Masters crown in Las Vegas today and although it’s been an uncertain period for so many players, ‘The Asp’ will be justifiably full of confidence ahead of the sport’s imminent return.
Low6 Home Tour Play-Offs
Friday June 5 (1930 BST)
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Gary Anderson 6-2 Jonny Clayton
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Jelle Klaasen
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Jonny Clayton