Jose de Sousa created history as he made it back-to-back PDC titles with victory at Players Championship 15 in Milton Keynes on Wednesday, defeating Ryan Searle 8-7 in a pulsating final at the Marshall Arena.
De Sousa, who followed up an astonishing 127 average in Monday’s event by claiming the title on Tuesday, continued his remarkable week in Milton Keynes – landing a record 34 maximums to scoop the £10,000 top prize – his seventh PDC ranking title.
The Grand Slam of Darts champion posted three ton-plus averages en route to glory; including a sensational 112 average in his 7-2 semi-final victory over Rob Cross, before surviving a match dart to deny Ryan Searle a second PDC title in a captivating showpiece.
Searle landed the first break of throw in Wednesday’s finale with a majestic 161 checkout, and ‘Heavy Metal’ looked poised to triumph after establishing a 7-5 cushion when ‘The Special One’ missed a dart at his favourite tops to restore parity at six apiece.
Nevertheless, De Sousa kept his hopes alive with a stunning 135 combination for a 12-darter, before forcing a last leg shootout after Searle missed a match dart at the bull. The enigmatic Portuguese had the advantage of throw in the decider and Searle was rendered helpless as the Premier League runner-up sealed the deal with a classy 102 kill.
“It feels great to win repeat titles,” De Sousa reflected. “It’s something I didn’t expect at all. Ryan played really well but he missed at the end and I punished him. It doesn’t make me happy to do that but that’s the game.
“I wouldn’t say players are scared of me now, but I would say they respect me as a player. I think I deserve that after all my hard work.”
The world number 10 breezed through to Wednesday’s quarter-finals with convincing wins over Jon Worsley, Rowby-John Rodriguez, Kevin Doets and Jeff Smith, before surviving a host of match darts to defeat Jonny Clayton in the last-eight – avenging his defeat to ‘The Ferret’ in last month’s Premier League final.
This set up a semi-final showdown against a resurgent Cross, who defeated Darius Labanauskas, Brendan Dolan, Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright with a series of quality performances, although ‘Voltage’ was unable to dethrone an inspired De Sousa, who fired in a brace of 12 and 11-darters to close out a resounding victory.
Although Searle was left disconsolate following a dramatic conclusion, his run to the final catapulted him back into the provisional Pro Tour Order of Merit qualification places for next month’s World Matchplay in Blackpool.
The 33-year-old, who is yet to feature at the Winter Gardens, claimed the scalps of Gary Anderson, Joe Cullen and Stephen Bunting to progress to his first final of 2021, but his bid for a second Pro Tour title fell agonisingly short.
Two-time world champion Adrian Lewis continued his resurgence at Super Series 4 with a first quarter-final appearance of 2021; featuring averages of 110.5 and 103.6 in wins over Ross Smith and William Borland respectively.
Croatia’s Boris Krcmar reached the last eight for the first time in a ProTour event, having accounted for ten-time major winner James Wade in his opener, while Ian White achieved perfection in his second-round clash against Ron Meulenkamp, only for the Dutchman to record a 6-4 victory.
PDC Super Series 4 concludes on Thursday with Players Championship 16 as players return for a final time this week to compete for a further £75,000 in prize money.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2021 Players Championship 15
Wednesday June 16
Ryan Searle 6-3 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Boris Krcmar 6-4 Niels Zonneveld
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Maik Kuivenhoven
Stephen Bunting 6-4 Damon Heta
José de Sousa 6-3 Jeff Smith
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Vincent van der Voort
Rob Cross 6-4 Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright 6- 2 Mervyn King
Ryan Searle 6-2 Boris Krcmar
Stephen Bunting 6-2 Adrian Lewis
José de Sousa 6-5 Jonny Clayton
Rob Cross 6-5 Peter Wright
Ryan Searle 7-4 Stephen Bunting
José de Sousa 7-2 Rob Cross
Jose de Sousa 8-7 Ryan Searle