Damon Heta clinched the third PDC title of his career with a superb 8-6 success over an imperious Gary Anderson in Saturday’s Players Championship 5 showpiece in Barnsley.
‘The Heat’ famously claimed the Brisbane Darts Masters title in 2019 and secured a maiden Pro Tour title the following year after becoming a full-time professional.
Having recently leapfrogged Simon Whitlock to become Australia’s number one, Heta ended his 18-month wait for a PDC ranking title with a 107.27 average against ‘The Flying Scotsman’.
The quality from both players was unrelenting, but after a topsy-turvy start, Anderson seized the initiative; following up a sublime 131 checkout with a clinical 68 kill to lead 4-3.
Heta responded with 146 and 101 finishes in consecutive legs, before producing a majestic 10-dart leg to move 6-4 ahead, only for the Scot to level at six apiece with back-to-back 14-darters.
However, Heta fired in a classy 12-darter to move within a leg of victory, before sealing the deal with another 14-darter, after Anderson had wired a dart at tops to force a deciding leg.
The Australian was the epitome of consistency throughout the afternoon in Barnsley, opening up proceedings with 6-1 victories over Dutch pair Danny Jansen and Jimmy Hendriks.
Heta followed up a hard-fought win over UK Open semi-finalist Keane Barry with 6-3 wins over Steve Beaton and Daryl Gurney, before sweeping aside his housemate Dimitri Van den Bergh in the semi-finals.
“It’s massive for me,” reflected Heta. “I knew how well Gary was playing, he was playing sensational darts but I’m accustomed to the scene now and you’ve got to take whatever opportunity you’ve got.
“To win today is massive because I went all last year playing well, I made some finals but not to get a win was a bit disheartening.
“To get a win over another Premier League player is massive for me. I’m always looking up, I’ve still got everything to gain.
“I don’t think I played my best stuff today but I took my chances. I played some decent players that no doubt could win this thing, but I played my own game.”
‘The Flying Scotsman’ was unable to land his first Players Championship crown since February 2020, but fresh from his Premier League exploits in Nottingham, he produced a series of blistering displays.
The two-time world champion boasted a remarkable tournament average of 104.73, featuring six ton-plus averages in seven matches. After averaging 107 in his opener against Jason Lowe, the 51-year-old dumped out top seed Michael van Gerwen in round two.
Anderson then averaged 109 to defeat Simon Whitlock in an epic last-leg shootout, before seeing off his stablemate Chris Dobey with a 101 average.
The world No 6 posted an astonishing 113.45 average to demolish Rob Cross in a high-quality quarter-final tussle, before firing in a 104 in his semi-final success against Joe Cullen, ending Cullen’s 19-match winning streak in Players Championship events.
Earlier in the day, ‘The Rockstar’ landed a nine-dart finish during his third round win over James Wilson, while emerging Northern Irishman Josh Rock achieved perfection for the first time in his PDC career in his first round win against Dave Chisnall.
World No 1 Peter Wright was dumped out in round one by Andrew Gilding, despite averaging 99, while World Championship runner-up Michael Smith departed at the same stage, losing out to UK Open semi-finalist William O’Connor.
Image Credit: Kais Bodensieck, PDC Europe
2022 Players Championship 5
Saturday March 19
Gary Anderson 6-3 Chris Dobey
Rob Cross 6-4 Luke Humphries
Joe Cullen 6-4 Stephen Bunting
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-0 Shaun Wilkinson
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Matt Campbell
Damon Heta 6-3 Steve Beaton
Mike De Decker 6-1 Mervyn King
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-4 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Gary Anderson 6-2 Rob Cross
Joe Cullen 6-3 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Damon Heta 6-3 Daryl Gurney
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-4 Mike De Decker
Gary Anderson 7-3 Joe Cullen
Damon Heta 7-4 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Damon Heta 8-6 Gary Anderson