JAMES WADE picked up his fourth PDC ranking title of 2019 at Players Championship 18 in Wigan on Sunday, defeating Jose de Sousa 8-5 in the final.
The second day of the ProTour double-header weekend saw Wade follow-up his hat-trick of Players Championship titles in April to equal his best ever tally of ranking titles in a calendar year, having also won four in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The former Premier League champion grew into the tournament, steadily increasing his average in every round, before posting ton-plus averages in the quarter-finals and semi-finals.
Wade’s day began with victories over Dutch pair Benito van de Pas and Yordi Meeuwisse, followed by a narrow 6-5 win over Keegan Brown to reach the Last 16 where he overcame Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-4.
In the quarter-finals, Wade averaged 101.5 to defeat rising star Callan Rydz 6-3, before edging past Players Championship 17 winner Krzysztof Ratajski 7-5 and then getting the better of De Sousa to secure the £10,000 top prize.
“Yesterday after I lost I looked at a picture of my son on my phone and that inspired me to win today,” said Wade.
“The final wasn’t a great game, in fact, I wouldn’t say I played very well today which is ironic really.
“But maybe today will boost me into a bit of form and I can do some damage at the World Matchplay.”
De Sousa got off to a flying start in his first PDC final, taking out 160 to hold throw in the opening leg, as the first four legs all went with throw.
Wade hit his favourite double ten with his last dart in hand to land the first break of the match, then doubling his lead with a calm 68 checkout after De Sousa piled on the pressure with his 21st 180 of the day.
De Sousa came roaring back with back-to-back legs of his own, including a 12-dart break which ended with an 88 checkout.
Despite averaging over 11 points more than Wade after eight legs, De Sousa was left to rue his missed chance to go ahead, as Wade clinically found double seven with his last darts in hand for an 86 checkout to break throw and make it 5-4.
From there, Wade produced a dominant end to the contest, dropping only one more leg to run out a convincing 8-5 winner.
De Sousa, who won his PDC Tour Card for the first time in January, backed up his run to the quarter-finals of the Danish Darts Open on his European Tour debut in Copenhagen last weekend.
The Portuguese number one defeated Nathan Aspinall, Jeffrey de Zwaan on his way to the semi-finals, where he ran out a 7-5 victory over Dimitri Van den Bergh to reach his first PDC ranking final, ending Van den Bergh’s hopes of qualifying for the Betfred World Matchplay in the process.
A number of players were vying for the 16 ProTour Order of Merit places in the Blackpool event ahead of the cut-off on June 30, with 14 players in contention for three places at the conclusion of Sunday’s event.
Vincent van der Voort, James Wilson and Kyle Anderson currently occupy the final three spots, but Anderson’s hopes were dealt a blow as he suffered an opening round loss to Ryan Searle.
Keegan Brown and William O’Connor lead the chasing pack of 11 players who will play in the Czech Darts Open across the weekend of June 28-30, with action shown on video.pdc.tv.
Elsewhere, Michael Smith went down to James Richardson in the Last 16, and Mensur Suljovic was defeated by O’Connor at the Last 32 stage.
The next Players Championship events will be held across July 16-17 at The Barnsley Metrodome, with live action shown on video.pdc.tv.
See full Players Championship 18 results in DartConnect.
Players Championship 18Sunday June 23Robin Park Tennis Centre, WiganLast 16
Luke Woodhouse 6-3 Ross Smith
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Gabriel Clemens
Callan Rydz 6-5 Brendan Dolan
James Wade 6-4 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-3 Andy Boulton
William O’Connor 6-0 Madars Razma
Jose de Sousa 6-4 Conan Whitehead
James Richardson 6-4 Michael Smith
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Luke Woodhouse
James Wade 6-3 Callan Rydz
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 William O’Connor
Jose de Sousa 6-2 James Richardson
James Wade 7-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
Jose de Sousa 7-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
James Wade 8-5 Jose de Sousa