Luke Humphries won an incredible six legs on the spin to complete an epic Players Championship Finals comeback at Butlin’s Minehead Resort.
Trailing 9-5 in the final to 2022 champion Michael van Gerwen, and having a nine darter hit against him, Cool Hand reeled off a quite remarkable comeback to seal his maiden victory in this tournament with an 11-9 victory.
It caps off a remarkable few weeks for Humphries, who in 50 days has become the quickest player in history to win three major televised PDC titles, having won the World Grand Prix and Grand Slam of Darts. The next quickest is Jonny Clayton at 251 days. Three is the magic number for Humphries, as that is his new position in the world rankings.
He was not the only winner this evening though, as Luke Littler defeated Gian Van Veen 6-4 in a classic contest to win the Winmau World Youth Championship Final.
Hatrick for Humphries at Players Championship Finals
Humphries’ day started with defeat of James Wade in the afternoon quarter finals session, while Van Gerwen came through Stephen Bunting in a last leg decider.
Cool Hand then lived up to his moniker to beat Ryan Joyce 11-2 in the semi final, while MvG saw off Gabriel Clemens 11-7 to reach the final. Joyce and Clemens saw off Damon Heta and Luke Woodhouse respectively in the last eight earlier in the day.
Humphries opened proceedings in the final with a lovely 130 outshot on the bull, before Van Gerwen levelled with an equally excellent 126. Both missed darts to break throw in the following two legs, but both held to keep the scores level.
The fifth leg saw another moment of history at Minehead for Mighty Mike. Against the throw, he hit seven treble 20s, followed by treble 19 and double 12 to complete a nine darter, his fourth at the venue and for a second consecutive year in this final, to go into the first interval 3-2 ahead.
MvG missed bullseye for The Big Fish in leg nine to go three clear, while Humphries squandered a dart at double 18 to level in leg 10. This meant the second session went on throw, with the Dutchman leading 6-4 at the halfway mark.
Humphries missed the bull for a 164 to get back within one, allowing Van Gerwen to ping 90 and get a crucial double break of throw. Two holds followed, giving Mighty Mike a 9-5 lead and making him two legs away from a record extending eighth title in this event.
Cool Hand then produced an epic comeback. He held before the final interval, then found a 56 to break after the restart, before holding to get back within one. He then found a ridiculous 142 outshot to level at 9-9, before hitting double 10 last dart in hand for a fifth leg on the spin.
In the 20th leg, Van Gerwen missed eight darts to send us all the way, and after missing multiple darts himself, Humphries eventually found double one to complete the fightback and win a third major TV title in 50 days.
Littler sees off Van Veen in absolute thriller
Earlier in the evening,England’s Luke Littler and Gian van Veen played out one of the greatest Winmau World Youth Championship Finals ever. In the battle between the 2023 Development Tour’s top two, it was The Nuke who came out on top 6-4.
Both traded breaks in the opening two legs, but back to back 180s in the third leg helped Littler to a 12 dart break of throw, before holding to move halfway to the title.
Van Veen then missed two darts to hold in the fifth, with The Nuke pinging double 12 to go a double break ahead. A leg later, he found the same double to go within one.
The Dutchman however would not go down without a fight. After reeling off two straight legs, Van Veen hit an incredible 120 outshot in the ninth leg with Littler sitting on 57 for the contest. In the tenth leg however, the young Dutch star missed double five to force a decider, allowing The Nuke to ping tops to secure the title.
The stats from the final were astonishing, with an amazing 13 180s in 10 legs and Littler averaging over 102. Van Veen himself averaged over 97.
Players Championship Finals – Finals Day Results
Michael van Gerwen 11-7 Luke Humphries
Michael van Gerwen 11-6 Gabriel Clemens
Luke Humphries 11-3 Ryan Joyce
Michael van Gerwen 10-9 Stephen Bunting
Gabriel Clemens 10-7 Luke Woodhouse
Luke Humphries 10-7 James Wade
Ryan Joyce 10-6 Damon Heta
Winmau World Youth Championship
Luke Littler 6-4 Gian van Veen