Chris Dobey produced a series of sublime displays to clinch his second PDC ranking title with victory over Ryan Searle in Tuesday’s Players Championship 28 at the Barnsley Metrodome.
The man nicknamed ‘Hollywood’ lived up to the billing to secure his second Pro Tour title of 2021, and he boasted a remarkable tournament average of 102.19 to trouser the £10,000 top prize in the first of three events this weeks to conclude this year’s Players Championship events.
The 31-year-old kicked off proceedings with a 102 average in a 6-2 demolition of Maik Kuivenhoven, before following up a battling win against Gavin Carlin with resounding wins over Darren Webster and Bradley Brooks respectively.
Dobey then fired in a 105 average to dispatch Grand Slam champion Jose De Sousa 6-2 and set up a semi-final showdown against newly crowned European Champion Rob Cross, where an astonishing contest ensued.
The Bedlington star recorded his first 110-plus average on the PDC circuit during a sensational 7-4 defeat of Cross – who averaged 112.95 to his conqueror’s 111.73, with all 11 legs won in 15 darts or less.
He maintained his fine form to establish a commanding 4-1 cushion over Searle in Tuesday’s showpiece, with consecutive legs of 12 and 14 darts moving him halfway to victory.
Searle produced an 11-darter as he took the next two legs to reduce the arrears, only to see Dobey restore his three-leg buffer by conjuring up a classy 121 finish on the bull for a 12-dart leg and a 6-3 advantage.
‘Heavy Metal’ responded magnificently, missing double 12 for a nine-darter, eventually wrapping up the leg in 11 darts before pinning tops to cut the deficit to 6-5.
Nevertheless, Searle squandered a dart at double ten to level up proceedings in leg 12, and although Searle landed tops to preserve his hopes at 7-6, Dobey closed out victory with a 15-dart hold via double ten.
“We’ve had some great games in the past couple of years. I owed him that – I think he beat me 6-0 the last time I played him,” Dobey told the PDC’s Dan Dawson.
“I’ve known how good Ryan is for a long time now, and during Covid I was practising online with Ryan as well. I know he can push me and I can push him, and hopefully we can bring the best out of each other in years to come.
“I’m delighted to get the win. I’ve been playing well for the last month or so, I’ve been very comfortable with my game and the practice is paying off. It’s hard to keep that consistency throughout the day, and I felt I’ve dealt with it well today.
“I’ve taken my practice game to the board now. My floor game is what’s been letting me down for the past few years – I’ve played well on TV the majority of the time and it’s just getting that floor game right.
“You’ve seen it with Dimi [Van den Bergh]. He couldn’t do much on the floor and he’s turned his game around massively, and hopefully I can learn from Dimi and fly up the rankings.”
Searle was unable to double his 2021 tally at the Barnsley Metrodome, though he will take great encouragement from his exploits, having averaged 110.52 in his third-round win over Jamie Hughes.
The Somerset star also claimed deciding-leg wins over Chas Barstow and Gabriel Clemens, while he defeated Dave Chisnall 7-4 in an entertaining semi-final contest, but he was unable to scoop his third Players Championship crown.
“I’ve got no complaints,” reflected Searle. “I’m playing decent darts and Chris is playing well as well. He played awesome all day and I’ll try my best over the next few days. That’s all you can do.”
Cross – the winner of Players Championship 26 last month – registered four ton-plus averages as he maintained his resurgence, averaging 109 in a thrilling last 16 win over Stephen Bunting, before succumbing with a 112 average in that extraordinary Dobey duel.
Elsewhere, Chisnall’s bid for a maiden title in 2021 culminated with a semi-final defeat, but the five-time major finalist did account for Michael van Gerwen in the quarter-finals, averaging 102 en route to a 6-2 success, having also beaten Max Hopp, Ritchie Edhouse, Alan Tabern and Danny Noppert earlier in the day.
Gabriel Clemens landed a magical nine-darter in the deciding leg of his third round win over Ross Smith during his run to the quarter-finals, where he lost out to Searle, while Scott Waites achieved perfection in his opener against Daryl Gurney, only to bow out against the Northern Irishman.
Alan Soutar was Tuesday’s other quarter-finalist, and he claimed a series of high-profile scalps in the process. The Scot survived four match darts to dump out five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld in round two, which he followed with wins over World No 2 Peter Wright and World Matchplay semi-finalist Krzysztof Ratajski.
We were treated to a host of devastating displays throughout Tuesday’s play, with Callan Rydz recording a 117.37 average in his second round win over Lisa Ashton, while Joe Cullen posted a 112.53 average at the same stage against Jason Heaver.
However, former Premier League champion Glen Durrant endured another tumultuous afternoon. The three-time BDO world champion withdrew at 4-2 adrift during his first round tie with Davy Proosten, and he has opted not to compete in Wednesday and Thursday’s final Players Championship events of the season.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Players Championship 28
Tuesday November 2
Gabriel Clemens 6-2 Mike De Decker
Ryan Searle 6-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Joe Cullen
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Danny Noppert
Jose de Sousa 6-4 Kevin Doets
Chris Dobey 6-1 Bradley Brooks
Alan Soutar 6-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
Rob Cross 6-5 Ryan Joyce
Ryan Searle 6-5 Gabriel Clemens
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Michael van Gerwen
Chris Dobey 6-2 Jose de Sousa
Rob Cross 6-1 Alan Soutar
Ryan Searle 7-4 Dave Chisnall
Chris Dobey 7-4 Rob Cross
Chris Dobey 8-6 Ryan Searle