Josh Payne won his first senior PDC title at Players Championship six, as he came through an enthralling last-leg decider to edge out eight-time major winner James Wade at the Barnsley Metrodome on Saturday afternoon.
Payne, 22, has won three Development Tour titles, but this is without doubt the finest moment of his career, as he scooped the £10,000 winner’s cheque by beating ‘The Machine’ in an epic curtain-raiser.
Payne saw off the established trio of Gerwyn Price, Ronny Huybrechts and Wes Newton, before he secured his quarter-final berth with a 6-4 victory over former world finalist Kevin Painter. Payne then edged out Mensur Suljovic 6-5 in the last eight, before overcoming Steve Brown 6-3 to reach his maiden Pro Tour final.
It was a fantastic day for Brown however, as he reached his first PDC ranking semi-final for over 5 years, beating the likes of Joe Cullen, James Richardson, Antonio Alcinas, James Wilson and Simon Whitlock.
Payne faced James Wade in the final, as ‘The Machine’ set his sights on his first Pro Tour victory since July 2015. The left-hander dropped just three legs in dispatching Dave Ladley and Dean Winstanley, before coming through a deciding-leg against Devon Petersen to reach the last 16.
The world’s top three players will not be competing in this weekend’s Players Championship double-header in Barnsley. Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor have all opted to take the weekend off and focus on the Premier League, with just under three weeks until final’s night at the O2 Arena on May 19th.
In addition to this, five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld will also not be present at the Barnsley Metrodome. Van Barneveld, who was also absent for the triple-header in Barnsley three weeks ago, is opting to focus primarily on major TV tournaments, rather than Pro Tour events in 2016.
As a consequence, Adrian Lewis will be the highest ranked player competing this weekend, and he’ll be joined by his fellow Premier League stars James Wade, Peter Wright and Robert Thornton.
However, in Van Gerwen’s absence, Peter Wright will be the top seed, and he’ll be hoping to replicate his victory from the first Players Championship event of the year. Michael Smith will be the second seed, whilst Ian White and Benito van de Pas, who both tasted victory in the recent triple-header, will also be in action.