Dirk van Duijvenbode dispatched Ryan Searle 8-2 to clinch Players Championship 4 success on a sensational day of darts in Barnsley on Sunday.
Van Duijvenbode came through three last-leg shoot-outs to scoop his fourth PDC crown on a thrilling day of action, before winning eight of the last nine legs in the final to deny Searle a second title in as many weeks.
The Dutchman also landed 35 maximums to equal the record for the most 180s recorded in a Players Championship event – a tally previously achieved by Dave Chisnall 12 months ago.
Searle drew first blood in a scrappy start to Sunday’s showpiece, but Van Duijvenbode soon exerted control, winning the next two legs in 12 and ten darts to seize the initiative.
Searle responded with a 124 checkout on the bull to restore parity at two apiece, only for Van Duijvenbode to reel off six successive legs to triumph with a 100 average.
“I think I was at the top-level of my focus,” admitted Van Duijvenbode, who claimed a brace of Players Championship titles in 2022.
“I love playing Ryan because he plays at a nice tempo. He’s very good so you know you have to perform well, but he doesn’t try any tactics. I love the man.
“I didn’t love it last week when he beat me from 5-3 down, and he went on to win the event! I am glad I won it today though.
“This is my fourth ProTour title, so hopefully now I can win a European Tour title or a televised title this year, but every win is special.
“I want to improve every year. Eventually, my main goal is to be World Champion. In my mind I’m still a long way from that, but I’m just trying to improve every year and look critically at my game.”
Van Duijvenbode began his campaign with a battling 6-4 success against Mervyn King, recovering from 4-2 down to avoid a second straight opening round exit this weekend.
The 30-year-old fired in a 12-darter to win through in a deciding-leg against his compatriot Geert Nentjes in round two, before coming through another tough tie in his board final against Callan Rydz.
Van Duijvenbode produced his performance of the day in his last 16 showdown against Jonny Clayton, defying a 104 average from the Welshman to triumph with a 108 average of his own.
After edging out Stephen Bunting in another 11-leg tussle, Van Duijvenbode then survived three match darts to stun Joe Cullen in a breathless semi-final, landing nine 180s to prevail in a classic.
Searle – the winner of Players Championship One last Saturday – continued his scintillating start to 2023, posting four ton-plus averages in claiming the £8,000 runner-up prize.
The Somerset star relinquished just six legs in his opening three matches, following up a 6-3 success against Connor Scutt by averaging 103 in wins over Graham Hall and James Wade respectively.
Searle maintained this relentless standard to account for Dutch duo Jeffrey Sparidaans and Maik Kuivenhoven, before defying a late rally from Chisnall in a topsy-turvy semi-final tie.
Chisnall was punished for a lacklustre start to his last four clash, but the Morecambe star claimed the scalp of Josh Rock and averaged over 100 in three matches en route to the semi-finals.
Former Masters champion Cullen also impressed to reach the same stage, averaging 105 and 108 in wins over Raymond van Barneveld and Jim Williams in Sunday’s latter stages.
Williams and Bunting continued their bright starts to 2023 before succumbing in the quarter-finals, where they were joined by surprise packages Kuivenhoven and Kciuk.
Clayton and Van den Bergh were among the high-profile names to feature in the last 16, alongside Players Championship Two runner-up Simon Whitlock and Van Barneveld, who registered wins over Danny Noppert and Adrian Lewis.