Dimitri Van den Bergh denied Adrian Lewis a first PDC title since March 2019, after producing a remarkable comeback from 4-0 down to defeat the two-time world champion in a thrilling finale at Players Championship 24.
‘Jackpot’ survived a match dart in his opener against Luke Woodhouse, before delivering a series of superb displays to set up a showdown against World Matchplay finalist Van den Bergh, who fired in five ton-plus averages en route to the final.
Lewis made a magnificent start to proceedings, only for Van den Bergh to claim eight of the next nine legs to scoop the £10,000 title in the first of four Players Championship events at this week’s Super Series 7.
The Belgian was punished for a tentative start as Lewis raced into a 4-0 lead, following up successive 17-darters with majestic 121 and 123 checkouts for back-to-back 12-dart legs.
‘The Dream Maker’ began his charge with a spectacular 10-darter in leg six, and although Lewis stretched his lead to 5-2 with a crucial 15-dart break, Van den Bergh roared back with a delightful 160 combination to reduce the arrears.
The trebles suddenly began to evade the Stoke-on-Trent star as Van den Bergh restored parity at five apiece, and the world No 5 duly capitalised in the latter stages, firing in legs of 15, 14 and 15 darts to wrap up an 8-5 success.
The 2020 World Matchplay champion produced an astonishing standard throughout the afternoon in Barnsley, registering six 100+ averages to scoop his second PDC title of 2021.
The 27-year-old posted consecutive 104 averages to claim resounding 6-2 wins over Boris Koltsov and Andrew Gilding, before edging out Vincent van der Voort in a last-leg decider to progress to the last 16.
Van den Bergh stormed into the last eight courtesy of a 6-1 demolition of Chris Dobey, before posting a 109.81 average to deny newly crowned European Champion Rob Cross in an absorbing quarter-final tussle.
This set up a semi-final showdown against his resurgent compatriot Kim Huybrechts, but despite averaging over 102, ‘The Hurricane’ was blown away by a merciless Van den Bergh, who averaged 104 for the third time on Tuesday afternoon.
“I just feel very lucky that I managed to win my second title this year,” said Van den Bergh.
“I felt like I wasn’t playing well [in the final] but I managed to come back. I still had a 100 average in the final and it didn’t feel like that.
“Today my finishing helped me through. I never gave up, I kept digging in and my finishing was strong.
“I’m proud but I’ll get my feet back on the ground because tomorrow is another day. I’m going to work hard because you can never underestimate anybody.”
Lewis was left to rue Van den Bergh’s fantastic fightback at the Barnsley Metrodome, but the 36-year-old can take solace from his exploits, after prevailing in a string of gruelling tussles earlier in the day.
Having battled past Woodhouse in an eleven-leg thriller to kick off his campaign, Lewis defeated Peter Jacques before defying a 101 average from third seed Michael Smith in another last-leg decider to reach the last 16.
‘Jackpot’ came out on top in another clash that went the distance against Callan Rydz – the mercurial North-East star landed a magical nine-darter in leg nine, only to lose in a contest which saw both players boast 106 averages.
The two-time world champion also eased past an off-colour Ryan Searle 6-2 in the quarter-finals and averaged 100 in his 7-4 semi-final defeat of Dave Chisnall, who had earlier taken out an incredible 167 finish in his deciding-leg win over Krzysztof Ratajski.
Both Chisnall and Huybrechts featured in their first ProTour semi-finals of 2021 on Tuesday, while Searle defied a 107 average from Van Gerwen to reach the quarter-finals, as MvG bowed out in the last 16 despite averaging 105 over the course of his four matches.
Rydz’ nine-dart leg wasn’t the first of the day, however. Nathan Aspinall achieved perfection in his first-round tie against Keegan Brown, although Aspinall’s 113.6 average incredibly wasn’t enough, as Brown prevailed 6-4 in an epic.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Players Championship 24
Tuesday October 19
Kim Huybrechts 6-4 Martin Schindler
Mickey Mansell 6-1 Mervyn King
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 Chris Dobey
Rob Cross 6-3 Mike De Decker
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Jose de Sousa
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Nick Kenny
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Callan Rydz
Ryan Searle 6-3 Michael van Gerwen
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Mickey Mansell
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-2 Rob Cross
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Ryan Searle
Dimitri Van den Bergh 7-2 Kim Huybrechts
Adrian Lewis 7-4 Dave Chisnall
Dimitri Van den Bergh 8-5 Adrian Lewis