Nico Kurz secured his Alexandra Palace return after recovering from 8-4 down to defeat Dragutin Horvat and scoop the German Super League title in a nail-biting finale on Sunday.
The talented 23-year-old underlined his credentials with an impressive World Championship campaign on debut in December – defeating James Wilson and Joe Cullen before succumbing to World Youth champion Luke Humphries in round three.
However, his initial breakthrough came in last year’s German Darts Masters, where he landed a stunning 170 finish en route to dumping out two-time world champion Gary Anderson in just his second televised appearance.
The last four weekends had seen some of Germany’s top talents competing in the group stage of the PDC Europe event, with the top four players in each group progressing to Finals Day.
Three-time PDC ranking finalist Gabriel Clemens was the overwhelming tournament favourite and he demonstrated why, thrashing Manfred Bilderl 8-1 with a 98.6 average to breeze into the last four.
Kurz defeated Kevin Munch in his quarter-final tussle, averaging 93.7 to record an 8-5 success over Adrian Lewis’ former World Championship conqueror. Kurz then continued his fine form to topple Clemens in the semi-finals.
‘The German Giant’ established an early 4-2 buffer but a host of missed doubles midway through the contest proved his undoing, as Kurz produced the comeback to keep his title bid alive.
He faced Horvat in Sunday’s showpiece, after the 44-year-old swept aside former BDO World Championship semi-finalist Michael Unterbuchner in his last four tie. Unterbuchner led 2-0, only for Horvat to run riot and win nine of the final ten legs to prevail in emphatic style.
The former PDC World Championship qualifier appeared poised to triumph convincingly against Kurz, having led 8-4 at one stage. However, the comeback kid delivered once again, levelling at 9-9 before a dramatic finale ensued.
Horvat almost snatched victory in sensational style – missing double 12 for a 141 finish after Kurz had spurned three match darts in the preceding visit. The world No 87 didn’t require further invitation on his return, pegging double two to secure the title and his Ally Pally spot.
The action was broadcast live on Sport1 & DAZN, with coverage also available on PDCTV. The event was also played in accordance with social distancing guidelines that remain in place in Germany.
Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC