Record-breaking James Wade produced some of the best darts of his career to secure victory in Dublin in the Cazoo Premier League on Thursday.
The left-hander dominated at the 3Arena to claim his second league night win of the season in sensational style to delight 8,000 fans in the Irish capital.
The world number five saw off Michael van Gerwen in a pulsating opening quarter-final before setting a personal record average of 114.73 to beat Gerwyn Price, and then capped his brilliant night by producing a comeback against Jonny Clayton in the final.
In a high-quality final, Wade got off to a bright start as he took an early two-leg lead.
League leader Clayton quickly turned the tie in his favour as he strung together a run of four successive legs to move into a 4-2 lead.
The race looked to be run for Wade as Clayton then found an 11-darter to move 5-3 ahead, but the 39-year-old had other ideas.
After surviving a missed match dart at the bull from Clayton, Wade closed the gap to one leg and then took out a stunning 118 checkout to break throw – with his opponent waiting on 16 – to level at 5-5.
In a scrappy deciding leg, Wade squandered the first opportunity for the match as he went inside on double 15.
Clayton then failed to take out 76 as he missed inside on tops with his final dart, allowing Wade to return to the oche once more and pin double four for maximum points in Dublin.
The victory for Wade makes it his second night win in the 2022 Premier League, and moves him within four points of Clayton at the top of the table – and level on points with Van Gerwen in second.
“I am just so happy,” Wade proclaimed after victory. “All three matches had some magical moments, but it’s nice to win the last one.
“I’ve been here for 20 years and I am so happy with that. It is up there with [my best] performances and I am so lucky to be involved in the Premier League.
“I’m not here to make the numbers up. I’m fighting amongst great dart players and legends in the game, but I believe I can still finish top.
“I know how good I am – I’m just as good as all of them, if not better at times, so I’m just happy to be part of it.”
Wade’s semi-final win over Price will live long in the memory as he produced a personal record-breaking performance – averaging 114.73, hitting six doubles from seven attempts and landing a ten-darter.
However, Wade added: “It’s a great game to be involved in, but it’s just nice to mix it with the best darts players in the world.
“Every match tonight had a special moment to it. I wouldn’t say it was my best performance but statistically it was my best by a country mile.
“I’ve been involved in other games and situations where I’ve been right up against it. When I come off afterwards I thought I had got a bit lucky, but then when people relayed the statistics to me, I just thought ‘wow’.” 1 of 16
The visit to Dublin saw Clayton reach his fifth final of the season, with the reigning champion continuing his superb recent form.
He kicked off his night with a comfortable 6-3 win over Peter Wright, before defying a brilliant performance from Michael Smith in the semi-finals in a 6-4 comeback victory, having trailed 4-2 at one stage.
The semi-final loss was another blow to Smith, who picked up his first win for five weeks by defeating Gary Anderson only to remain the only player in the Premier League without a nightly win to his name.
Nevertheless, the 31-year-old produced two strong performances, averaging 102.14 in his opening win over Anderson and 104.73 in defeat to Clayton, as he closed the gap slightly on the Play-Off places.
James Wade 6-5 Jonny Clayton