Rydz runs riot to claim second Players Championship crown

Callan Rydz recovered from 3-0 adrift to deny Gabriel Clemens a first PDC ranking title, defeating ‘The German Giant’ 8-6 in the final of Players Championship 25 in Barnsley on Wednesday, to clinch his second Pro Tour crown of 2021.

‘The Riot’ has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign that has earned him debuts at the World Matchplay and the World Grand Prix, and his battling victory over Clemens catapults him into the world’s top 40 for the first time in his career.

The 23-year-old eased past Andy Boulton in his opener before battling past Darius Labanauskas, but his performance of the day came in the third round, where he defied a sublime 107 average from Ross Smith to complete a 6-3 success with a 102.72 average.

Rydz then dumped out Grand Slam champion Jose De Sousa in the last 16, eased past an impressive Mervyn King in the last eight, before storming into Wednesday’s showpiece courtesy of a comprehensive 7-1 success against Dirk van Duijvenbode.

I’ve played consistently well all day, the final wasn’t the best but I’m just glad to come through it,” Rydz told Dan Dawson.

“These tournaments are the hardest ones to win, you’ve got 128 of the world’s best players in one room hitting huge averages, so to win another one shows I’m heading in the right direction.

“It’s been a massive few months for my career. I think the best thing that happened to me was having a break after James Wade beat me at the World Championship. I said I’d come back with a vengeance and so far, so good.”

Clemens – featuring in his fifth PDC ranking final – was denied his elusive first title, but he underlined his class with a series of sparkling displays.

Clemens kicked off his campaign with resounding wins over Adam Gawlas and Chas Barstow, before overcoming European Championship semi-finalist Nathan Aspinall in a scrappy last-leg decider.

He then edged out his compatriot Martin Schindler in another clash which went the distance, before battling past Steve Brown 6-4 in the last eight, with ‘Bomber’ appearing in his first Pro Tour quarter-final of 2021.

Nevertheless, Clemens prevailed in an absorbing semi-final clash against Chris Dobey. ‘Hollywood’ fired in three ton-plus averages across Wednesday’s action, but a 106.20 wasn’t enough to account for Clemens, who averaged 104 to close out a thrilling 7-6 success.

The German then raced into a 3-0 lead against Rydz to close in on a maiden PDC triumph, but the North-East native came roaring back, winning five of the next six legs, courtesy of clinical 67, 88 and 100 combinations.

Clemens was left to rue two missed darts at double in leg 12 to restore parity at six apiece, and the Bedlington star capitalised via tops to move to the brink of victory, only for the German to prolong matters with a sumptuous 11-darter.

However, with the 38-year-old sat on a potential two-darter to wrestle back the initiative and force a decider, Rydz landed double 16 from a seemingly impossible angle with his final dart, to pocket the £10,000 top prize.

Elsewhere in Barnsley, Ryan Meikle joined Steve Brown in featuring in his first Players Championship quarter-final of the season, while European Champion Rob Cross and World Grand Prix quarter-finalist Ryan Searle made the last eight for the second day in succession.

Michael van Gerwen’s wait for a maiden ranking title in 2021 continues. ‘The Green Machine’ stormed into the last 16 without relinquishing a solitary leg, whitewashing the trio of Michael Unterbuchner, Steve Beaton and Madars Razma.

However, he was beaten by his World Cup partner Van Duijvenbode in a high-quality contest that saw both men average over 101, while Tuesday’s champion Dimitri Van den Bergh suffered a second-round exit at the hands of Wayne Jones.

Top seed Joe Cullen was among the seeded stars to exit in round one, with Premier League stars James Wade and Gary Anderson losing out to Kim Huybrechts and Ross Smith respectively.

Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld suffered a deciding-leg defeat to Scott Mitchell in his opener despite averaging 100, while Peter Wright suffered a surprise second-round loss against Peter Jacques.

Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

2021 Players Championship 25
Wednesday October 20
Last 16

Gabriel Clemens 6-5 Martin Schindler
Steve Brown 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Chris Dobey 6-2 Rob Cross
Ryan Meikle 6-3 Brendan Dolan
Callan Rydz 6-4 Jose de Sousa
Mervyn King 6-5 Ryan Searle
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-4 Jeff Smith
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-4 Michael van Gerwen

Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Steve Brown
Chris Dobey 6-1 Ryan Meikle
Callan Rydz 6-3 Mervyn King
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-2 Maik Kuivenhoven

Gabriel Clemens 7-6 Chris Dobey
Callan Rydz 7-1 Dirk van Duijvenbode

Callan Rydz 8-6 Gabriel Clemens

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