Ross Smith claims Players Championship 5
Smith claims Players Championship 5
Ross Smith defeated a resurgent Gary Anderson to win the Players Championship 5 and his second ProTour title on Saturday in Barnsley.
Smith came through a tense match against Anderson to win the £12,000 top prize and his third PDC title on an action-packed day at the Barnsley Metrodome.
The European Champion claimed a slew of major scalps en route to victory, holding off Anderson’s spirited comeback to deny the Scot his first ranking title since February 2020.
Smith took the early lead in Saturday’s showpiece, reeling off three straight legs to build a 4-1 lead, only for Anderson to respond with a classy 124 checkout in leg six.
Smudger regained his three-leg lead before the Scot responded with three straight legs of his own to level at five apiece, and Anderson took a 6-5 lead with a clinical 120 checkout in leg 11.
Smith regained control with back-to-back 15-dart legs to move to 7-6, before sealing the deal on tops after Anderson failed to produce a 116 skin-saver.
“I think I thoroughly deserved the win if you look at the calibre of players I’ve beaten,” reflected Smith, who now moves into the world’s top 16 for the first time in his career.
“I felt a bit edgy against Gary, but I told myself to just concentrate and stop thinking, and thankfully I got away with it, because we all know what Gary can do.
“I just play the player in front of me. I try to keep my feet on the ground. Nothing has been going right for me on the floor, but that changed today.
“I wasn’t quite expecting it. My confidence hasn’t been the greatest of late, so I am really happy to win this title.”
Smith began his season with back-to-back ton-plus averages in wins over Martijn Kleermaker and Jim Williams, conceding only three legs in both matches.
The 34-year-old knocked out top seed Luke Humphries in the third round before dispatching Premier League duo Dimitri Van den Bergh and Nathan Aspinall to advance to the semi-finals.
The Dover darter then survived three match darts in a tense last four match against Martin Schindler, who couldn’t close out victory despite opening up a 5-3 lead at one point.
Meanwhile, Anderson won the runner-up prize of £8,000, putting him one step closer to the provisional qualification spots for the World Matchplay in July.
The veteran Scot averaged 102 to defeat Arron Monk in his opener, and after defying Gian van Veen’s ton-plus average in round two, he smashed in a 104 average to defeat Croatia’s Boris Krcmar.
In his last 16 match against a brilliant Keegan Brown, the two-time World Champion produced the performance of the day, averaging 111.92, posting six 180s, and wrapping up a 6-4 victory with a 121 finish.
Anderson then recorded his fourth ton-plus average of the day in a comeback win over Chris Landman, which he followed with a hard-fought 7-5 victory over Gerwyn Price in the semi-finals.
Price received £4,000 for his efforts, as did fellow semi-finalist Schindler, who continued his strong form with victories over Darius Labanauskas, Ian White, and Dirk van Duijvenbode.
Van Duijvenbode was joined in the last eight by Van Barneveld and Landman, with former UK Open champion Aspinall rounding out the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, World Champion Michael Smith, Premier League leader Michael van Gerwen, and newly crowned UK Open champion Andrew Gilding were among the stars who were knocked out in the first round.
2023 Players Championship 5
Saturday March 11
The Barnsley Metrodome
Ross Smith 6-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Madars Razma
Martin Schindler 6-2 Danny van Trijp
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-2 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Gary Anderson 6-4 Keegan Brown
Chris Landman 6-5 Radek Szaganski
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Nathan Rafferty
Raymond van Barneveld 6-1 Kevin Doets
Ross Smith 6-3 Nathan Aspinall
Martin Schindler 6-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Gary Anderson 6-4 Chris Landman
Gerwyn Price 6-1 Raymond van Barneveld
Ross Smith 7-6 Martin Schindler
Gary Anderson 7-5 Gerwyn Price
Ross Smith 8-6 Gary Anderson