Jose De Sousa clinched his second Players Championship title of 2021 by defeating Michael van Gerwen 8-6 in a thrilling Players Championship 14 final in Milton Keynes on Tuesday.
The Grand Slam champion triumphed at Players Championship 9 in April, and he claimed another £10,000 title courtesy of a superb display in the second of four days in PDC Super Series 4.
The enigmatic Portuguese posted an astonishing 127.01 average in his first-round win over William Borland on Monday, and he maintained his blistering form to scoop his sixth PDC ranking title at the Marshall Arena.
De Sousa’s success also saw him deny Van Gerwen a first title since November’s Players Championship Finals, as the Dutchman was unable to halt his trophy drought despite a majestic display of finishing in a captivating finale.
Both men underlined their intent in the opening exchanges; De Sousa converting a 120 checkout via the conventional route following his remarkable Premier League exploits, only for Van Gerwen to produce a sensational 95 finish featuring two double 19s.
The three-time world champion led 3-2, but he was left to rue three missed darts at double which sparked a sequence of three consecutive legs for ‘The Special One’. Van Gerwen replied in style however, conjuring up an inspired 170 checkout to reduce the deficit to 5-4, after De Sousa had missed one dart at double 16 for a 6-3 cushion.
He was unable to cement that break as De Sousa restored his two-leg buffer moments later, but Van Gerwen continued his clinical combination finishing by landing 100 and 112 kills – the latter coming after De Sousa had spurned two darts for the title.
Nevertheless, with the world No 3 poised on 24 to force a last-leg decider, ‘The Special One’ lived up to the billing, producing a nerveless 108 finish on tops to prevail, which sees him break into the world’s top ten for the first time in his career.
“I’m very happy to win today,” said De Sousa. “It is an honour to play against a player like Michael. He always tries to make the best game.
“I’ve shown to the fans and everybody involved in darts that I have the darts to play with these players. For me, it’s really amazing what I’m doing in the PDC, unbelievable.”
‘The Special One’ had breezed through to the last 16 with convincing wins over David Evans and Jamie Hughes, before battling past his Premier League counterpart Rob Cross in a scrappy encounter, in which ‘Voltage’ squandered a match dart having led 5-4.
Portugal’s Man O’Scores then swept aside World Matchplay champion Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 in the quarter-finals, despite the Belgian conceding just four legs in wins over James Wilson, Raymond van Barneveld, Jonny Clayton and Darren Webster, averaging 103, 106, 99 and 116 in those respective victories.
The Premier League runner-up appeared to be cruising towards the final after establishing a 4-0 lead against Gabriel Clemens in the last four, only for ‘The German Giant’ to win five straight legs to seize the initiative. However, De Sousa rallied impressively, winning the final three legs without reply to secure a spot in his third final of 2021.
Having succumbed to eventual champion Joe Cullen in Monday’s semi-finals, Van Gerwen registered four ton-plus averages to advance to his first ranking final of 2021, following up a whitewash win over Sean Fisher by reeling off a trio of 6-3 wins against Rusty-Jake Rodriguez, Luke Humphries and Chris Dobey.
‘The Green Machine’ halted Ted Evetts’ impressive run in the quarter-finals, before dispatching two-time world champion Gary Anderson 7-2 in the last four, averaging 106.2 to maintain his remarkable recent record against ‘The Flying Scotsman’, who was beaten by Gerwyn Price in Monday’s quarter-finals.
Earlier in the day, Nathan Aspinall and Keane Barry were forced to withdraw from the remainder of this week’s Super Series, after the former UK Open champion returned a positive coronavirus test ahead of Tuesday’s play.
Aspinall reported symptoms of Covid-19 to the PDC’s Welfare Officer overnight on Monday and received a positive result to a further test, therefore he will return home to commence a period of self-isolation. Barry was deemed a close contact of Aspinall after the pair collided in Monday’s event, therefore the young Irishman was also ruled out.
Fresh from making Monday’s final on his return to competitive action, world champion Price suffered an opening-round exit, losing out 6-4 to Luke Woodhouse. Glen Durrant was beaten at the same stage by Derk Telnekes, while Peter Wright, Michael Smith and Krzysztof Ratajski were high-profile second-round casualties.
Following Niels Zonneveld’s nine-darter 24 hours earlier, two more players achieved perfection on Tuesday. Zonneveld’s compatriot Geert Nentjes struck a nine-darter in his opening-round whitewash of Kirk Shepherd, while Scotland’s Jim McEwan landed the nine in the opening leg of his clash against Van Barneveld, only to surrender a 5-2 advantage against the legendary Dutchman.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Players Championship 14
Tuesday June 15, Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Joe Cullen 6-4 Scott Mitchell
Gary Anderson 6-0 Mervyn King
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Chris Dobey
Ted Evetts 6-5 Ross Smith
Jose de Sousa 6-5 Rob Cross
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 Darren Webster
Gabriel Clemens 6-2 Luke Woodhouse
Ritchie Edhouse 6-1 Josh Payne
Gary Anderson 6-4 Joe Cullen
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Ted Evetts
Jose de Sousa 6-1 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Ritchie Edhouse
Michael van Gerwen 7-2 Gary Anderson
Jose de Sousa 7-5 Gabriel Clemens
Jose de Sousa 8-6 Michael van Gerwen