Ryan Searle won his first senior PDC title at Players Championship 3 in Wigan on Saturday, defeating Michael van Gerwen 8-6 in the final.
It was a first ever victory over Van Gerwen for Searle, whose rise from Challenge Tour to ProTour has seen him win five matches on the Alexandra Palace stage across the last two stagings of the World Championship.
Searle, who worked as a window cleaner until winning his Tour Card in January 2017, pockets the £10,000 top prize, which will be a major boost to his hopes of securing a debut in July’s World Matchplay, having narrowly missed out in 2019.
A tough start to the day saw for Searle saw him overcome two-time Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price, before wins over Michael Smith and Glen Durrant on his way to the semi-finals.
Searle then defeated rising Dutch star Jeffrey de Zwaan 7-3 to set up a meeting with Van Gerwen, who got the better of Peter Wright by the same scoreline in their a repeat of New Year’s Day’s World Championship final.
The final saw Searle race into a 3-0 lead, before world number one Van Gerwen piled in three 180s across the next four legs to take a 4-3 lead.
Undeterred, Searle took out 78 to stop the rot and, after the next two legs were shared, the Devon man produced a 13-dart leg to go 6-5 up.
Van Gerwen was unable to find another break of throw as Searle sealed victory in style with another 13-darter to cap off one of the most significant days in his career to date.
“I just can’t believe it,” said Searle. “It’s extra special to beat Michael in the final, it’s a dream.
“I’ve been practicing a lot in my little man cave back home and playing out scenarios in my head – playing Michael in a final was one of them.
“When you get these chances you just have to take the opportunity and thankfully I did today.
“I think I let myself down a bit at the World Championship when I lost to Gary Anderson.
“I still don’t think I’ve played my best, but I know what I can do.
“Nathan Aspinall beat me in the final of his first Players Championship win and look what’s happened to him since then. Maybe it will be the same for me.”
The third of 30 Players Championship events in 2020 saw the eighth and ninth nine-dart finishes of 2020 hit by Mensur Suljovic and Danny Noppert in their matches against Jeff Smith and Andy Boulton respectively.
Sunday will see the second day of the ProTour double-header take place, with live streaming on PDCTV.
See full Players Championship Three results in the Match Centre.
Players Championship Three
Saturday February 15
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Chris Dobey 6-2 Stephen Bunting
Peter Wright 6-5 Adrian Lewis
Joe Cullen 6-1 Ted Evetts
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
Danny Noppert 6-4 Joe Murnan
Ryan Searle 6-4 Michael Smith
Glen Durrant 6-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Chris Dobey
Peter Wright 6-3 Joe Cullen
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-3 Danny Noppert
Ryan Searle 6-5 Glen Durrant
Michael van Gerwen 7-3 Peter Wright
Ryan Searle 7-5 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Ryan Searle 8-6 Michael van Gerwen