With World Grand Prix places on the line and several huge majors looming, Daryl Gurney and Mensur Suljovic were triumphant on a weekend of high-class Players Championship action in Barnsley.
Despite the absence of world No 1 Michael van Gerwen, the best of world darts produced a memorable weekend at the Metrodome as the 32-man field for the Grand Prix was confirmed and Gurney and Suljovic celebrated timely first floor titles of the year.
Suljovic took the honours at Sunday’s Players Championship 26, beating Ian White 8-7 in a thrilling final that saw the runner-up average 107 in a defeat that included a perfect leg of arrows, while Gurney beat UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall on Saturday.
Both men have claimed European Tour titles this year and underlined their status as contenders for the big prizes by continuing impressive years.
Sunday’s dramatic conclusion was a fitting finale to a weekend that saw three nine-dart finishes and a plethora of 100+ averages and Suljovic’s clutch finishing was enough to see off White.
World No 9 Suljovic won the Austrian Darts Open at the start of the month and following his seventh career title, he has his sights set on the biggest prize in the game.
Suljovic, who became the first Austrian player to win a PDC event on home soil at the start of September, now has seven PDC titles to his name and has the biggest of all in his sights.
“This year I am world champion,” said Suljovic.
“This was the best final for me. Ian played brilliant, he hit a nine-darter, he is a brilliant player. Everybody is playing brilliant at the moment; Ian, Daryl Gurney, Gerwyn Price and me are the best players at the moment.”
With Suljovic 5-4 in front, White hit the PDC’s 40th perfect leg of the year and followed Rob Cross’ effort in the last 64 against Ron Meulenkamp.
The pair shared the next four legs to ensure the final went the distance where Suljovic’s 109 check-out was the difference and sealed the £10,000 winners cheque.
Players Championship 26
Quarter-FinalsIan White 6-0 Andy Boulton
Steve West 6-3 Gary Anderson
Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Cristo Reyes
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Ross Smith
Semi-FinalsIan White 7-2 Steve West
Mensur Suljovic 7-5 Jonny Clayton
FinalMensur Suljovic 8-7 Ian White
On Saturday, Daryl Gurney also claimed his first floor title of the year at Players Championship 25, beating Nathan Aspinall 8-5 in the final to end his wait for a Players Championship event victory stretching back to April 2017.
Superchin has gone on to claim his first two major titles since that success and the world No 3 was in magnificent form as the Pro Tour business rolled in Barnsley.
Gurney – who won last year’s Players Championship Finals, the culmination of the Players season – produced a string of dominant displays throughout the day, winning all seven games by at least three legs.
“It feels too long [since last winning a Players Championship event], I often struggle and don’t bring my ‘A-game’,” said Gurney.
“This week everything went great for me and I found something extra. I kicked in well with plenty of 180s to give myself opportunities, which I took.
“These events are harder to win than TV tournaments; you can play an unbelievable game and then you’re straight back into your next game just a few minutes later.”
Players Championship 25
Quarter-FinalsIan White 6-3 Max Hopp
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Peter Wright
Michael Smith 6-2 Mensur Suljovic
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Justin Pipe
Semi-FinalsDaryl Gurney 7-4 Ian White
Nathan Aspinall 7-5 Michael Smith
FinalDaryl Gurney 8-5 Nathan Aspinall
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