Peter Wright produced a sensational display to deny Michael van Gerwen a first title of 2021, as he prevailed at Players Championship 20 on Thursday to secure his third ranking title of the season.
Having claimed the title on the final day of Super Series 2 and Super Series 4, Snakebite produced a series of sublime displays to repeat the feat, posting a 108.84 average to dispatch ‘The Green Machine’ in a high-quality final in Coventry.
The Scot produced clinical 84, 74 and 64 combination finishes to establish a 3-0 cushion, before Van Gerwen opened his account with a classy 130 kill for a 12-darter. Wright fired in a 12-darter of his own to restore his three-leg buffer in leg five, capitalising on a missed dart at the bull from the Dutchman.
However, the defining blow arguably came in leg six. Van Gerwen registered seven perfect darts as he fought to reduce the arrears, but Wright followed up a maximum with a sumptuous 144 finish to storm into a 5-1 advantage, taking out 324 in just six darts.
Van Gerwen doubled his tally with a comfortable hold of throw via double 16, but Wright moved to the cusp of victory with legs of 12 and 13 darts, before converting a 71 combination to wrap up his third Pro Tour triumph of 2021.
The world No 2 suffered back-to-back opening round defeats on Monday and Tuesday, but he’ll now head to the World Matchplay full of confidence, having registered wins over Boris Krcmar, Steve Brown, Martijn Kleermaker, Daryl Gurney, Danny Noppert and James Wade en route to his 20th Players Championship title.
“Beating Michael means a lot and to beat the players I did on the way through is great. I had some loose darts and missed so many doubles as well against people, but it’s nice to win,” said Wright, who registered four ton-plus averages over the course of the afternoon.
The 51-year-old continued his tinker-man approach by using a new gold-coated set of darts on his way to victory, and he is now targeting World Matchplay glory with the set-up.
“I only got the gold darts on Wednesday morning,” added Wright. “I like these darts, they’re new and I love them – the way they look in the board as well. I feel like I want to play proper darts, I didn’t want to show too much before Blackpool. I can win it.”
Van Gerwen’s wait for a title continues after he succumbed in his second Players Championship Final in as many months, although the three-time world champion produced some blistering displays in Coventry – featuring a 113 average in victory over John Henderson.
The Dutchman defeated Adam Gawlas, Chris Dobey and Michael Smith in deciding legs, claimed routine wins over Dave Chisnall and top seed Jose De Sousa, while also posting a 106.27 average in Thursday’s showpiece, yet he remains without a tournament win since November’s Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals.
The world’s elite came to the party on the final day of Super Series 5, as reigning UK Open champion Wade and Premier League runner-up De Sousa lost out to Wright and Van Gerwen respectively in the semi-finals, while world champion Gerwyn Price was among the quarter-finalists.
Thursday’s event also saw Kim Huybrechts and Gabriel Clemens land nine-darters, taking the total of perfect legs during PDC Super Series 5 to five across the four days of competition.
Players Championship 20 marked the final tournament before the cut-off for next week’s World Matchplay, and the 32-player field was confirmed ahead of the tournament’s return to the Winter Gardens.
Former finalist Adrian Lewis and Simon Whitlock were among the high-profile names to miss out on qualification, while five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld fell short in his bid to return to Blackpool along with Steve Beaton, who will miss his first World Matchplay since 2000.
Players Championship 20
Thursday July 8, Coventry Building Society Arena
Jose de Sousa 6-2 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Chas Barstow 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Michael Smith 6-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Martin Schindler
James Wade 6-1 Eddie Lovely
Peter Wright 6-4 Daryl Gurney
Danny Noppert 6-4 Ryan Searle
Jose de Sousa 6-3 Chas Barstow
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Michael Smith
James Wade 6-3 Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright 6-3 Danny Noppert
Michael van Gerwen 7-2 Jose de Sousa
Peter Wright 7-2 James Wade
Peter Wright 8-2 Michael van Gerwen