Searle seals Players Championship 1 victory
Searle seals Players Championship 1 victory
Ryan Searle defeated a resurgent Jamie Hughes to win the Players Championship 1 in Barnsley on Saturday, capturing his fourth PDC ProTour title.
A winner at the Barnsley Metrodome, Searle, a finalist in the Players Championship opening round of the previous year, had another strong start to his ProTour season.
The former Players Championship Finals runner-up advanced to the final by winning two last-leg shootouts. There, he overcame a slow start to take home the £12,000 top prize in style.
The Tipton thrower, however, paid dearly for missing two darts that would have given him a 3-0 lead, as Searle’s magnificent 152 finish in leg three set off a run of six straight legs.
Although Hughes stopped the bleeding, Searle kept his composure to close out a resounding victory with a 100.75 average after the 35-year-old followed up a classy 98 kill with legs of 16, 13 and 14 darts to lead 6-2.
Hughes, who is competing in his first ProTour final since 2019, got off to an incredible start by following up a skillful 120 checkout with a 13-dart break to take a 2-0 lead right away.
“I’ve not played a huge amount since The Masters and I was terrible at The Masters and the World Championship,” conceded Searle, who moves back into the top 16 of the ProTour Order of Merit.
“It has taken a lot for me to come back from those two performances to win today, so it means a lot to me.
“I feel like I’m playing well. I was playing pretty well towards the end of last season but people were just playing phenomenally against me, and that can be disheartening.
“I’ve won the title today and I don’t feel like I’ve played anywhere near my best.
“It’s nice to have a B-game that competes with people, and I know if I play my A-game, I can win a lot more of these.”
Daniel Klose and Florian Hempel of Germany were easily defeated by Searle, who has won ProTour championships each of the last four years.
The Somerset player then defeated Keegan Brown in a decisive leg of their match to advance to the round of 16, where he defeated top seed Luke Humphries 6-4 with a ton-plus average.
In his quarterfinal match against Dirk van Duijvenbode, Searle overcame a 5-3 deficit to win another last-leg shootout. Then, he overcame Jonny Clayton’s 102 average to guarantee his spot in Saturday’s championship match.
Meanwhile, Hughes defeated a number of formidable opponents to earn a spot in his second Players Championship final—his first ranking final in more than three years.
The 36-year-old defeated Connor Scutt in round two and went on to defeat last year’s Masters champion Joe Cullen and current champion Chris Dobey, both by scores of 6-5, to advance to the round of 16.
Hughes then defeated Michael Smith, the world champion, to advance to the quarterfinals before defeating Callan Rydz and Dylan Slevin to win the £8,000 second-place prize.
Slevin, a young Irish player, made an impression on his ProTour debut after earning his Tour Card at Milton Keynes’ UK Qualifying School last month.
In his journey to the semi-finals, the 20-year-old celebrated victories over William O’Connor, Josh Rock, and Daryl Gurney, while Premier League star Clayton also relished a return to winning ways to reach the same stage.
The Welshman, who has yet to win in the Premier League this season, defeated Simon Whitlock, Kim Huybrechts, and Dave Chisnall to advance to the last four. He also defeated Nick Kenny, a fellow countryman, in a last-leg decider.
In the quarterfinals, Van Duijvenbode, Chisnall, Rydz, and Gurney lost, while Humphries lost to the eventual winner Searle despite giving the performance of the day.
The world number five defeated Luke Woodhouse in round two with an impressive 119.15 average, but he was unable to repeat his triumph from a year ago.
Other notable first round losers included Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright, who were defeated by Geert Nentjes and Steve Beaton, respectively.
2023 Players Championship 1
Saturday February 11
Ryan Searle 6-4 Luke Humphries
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-5 Jurjen van der Velde
Jonny Clayton 6-5 Kim Huybrechts
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Stephen Bunting
Callan Rydz 6-4 Mario Vandenbogaerde
Jamie Hughes 6-3 Michael Smith
Dylan Slevin 6-3 Bradley Brooks
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Danny Noppert
Ryan Searle 6-5 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Dave Chisnall
Jamie Hughes 6-4 Callan Rydz
Dylan Slevin 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Ryan Searle 7-4 Jonny Clayton
Jamie Hughes 7-2 Dylan Slevin
Ryan Searle 8-4 Jamie Hughes