With the top eight player in the PDC Order of merit on duty in Dubai working towards bringing darts to a global audience; this weekend’s Players Championship events were wide open and there for the taking. Rob Gardikiotis takes up the story…

Players Championship

Jabba also has a biography out

Jamie Caven completed a memorable weekend double at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan as he backed up Saturday’s victory by taking the £10,000 first prize on Sunday, after a 6-4 victory over Jelle Klaasen in the final.

Caven – whose victory on Saturday ended a two-year gap without a ranking title – continued his form of 24 hours earlier as he comfortably defeated Ricky Sudale, Magnus Caris and Keegan Brown to reach the last 16.

The Derby-based thrower then overcame Kenny MacNeil by a 6-4 margin before producing a superb display to dismiss Robert Thornton for a second day in a row thanks to a 6-1 triumph.

Caven ended Alex Roy’s brilliant day with a 6-3 win in the semi-finals to set-up a final against Klaasen, in what was to prove a high-quality contest.

The first four legs were shared before a missed dart at the bullseye from Klaasen saw Caven take out 47 to break throw for the first time and lead 3-2.

Caven continued to maintain that advantage and went on to land a brilliant 146 checkout to win the match, ending the contest with a fantastic 110.68 average to round-off a perfect weekend.

Former Lakeside Champion Klaasen started his run to a first ProTour final since November 2007 with a whitewash victory over John Scott before overcoming Mervyn King in a deciding-leg to reach the last 32.

The Dutchman moved into the quarter-finals with victories over Mark Frost and Peter Wright before recording an excellent 6-1 win over Gary Anderson in the last eight.

The 28-year-old Dutchman saw off Andy Smith in the semi-finals by a 6-4 margin, before running into the brilliant Caven in the decider, losing out despite recording an excellent 103 average.

Roy enjoyed his best day on the PDC ProTour since January 2012 as he reached the last four, which included an excellent 6-5 win over Justin Pipe – as he came from 4-0 down – and a tough 6-4 win over John Bowles in the last eight.

Andy Smith enjoyed his best run in a PDC ProTour event since reaching the last eight in Killarney last October as he also made the semis.

The Warwickshire man defeated Holland’s Ryan De Vreede and Darren Johnson before claiming an excellent 6-2 victory over Colin Lloyd.

Smith followed that with a deciding-leg with over Paul Amos, and a 6-3 triumph over Steve Beaton put him through to semi-finals where he lost out to Klaasen.

Former Premier League champion Anderson reached the last eight for a second successive day and he was joined in the quarters by his Scottish compatriot Thornton, who lost to the superb Caven for a second day running in Wigan.

Former World Champion Steve Beaton reached the quarter-finals of a ProTour event for a second time this year along with Widnes’ Bowles, who was denied a second semi-final appearance of year after being edged out by Roy.

Joe Murnan, Paul Amos and Canada’s Kenny MacNeil all enjoyed fine runs to the last 16 stage, matching their best-ever performances on the PDC ProTour.

Wes Newton also reached the last 16 only hours after his return from competing in the Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters earlier in the week, winning three matches before losing out to Anderson.

The next two Players Championship events will take place at the K2 Centre in Crawley on June 22-23, both with £50,000 on offer following this year’s increase from £35,000 per event.

Players Championship 4 Results

Sunday May 26
Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan

First Round
Robert Thornton (1) Bye
Lee Hayes 6-5 Matt Padgett
Darren Webster (32) 6-1 Chris Aubrey
Ted Hankey 6-2 Jason Marriott
Brendan Dolan (16) 6-3 Kentaro Suzuki
Joe Murnan 6-2 Richie Howson
Terry Jenkins (17) 6-3 Joe Cullen
Paul Barham 6-5 Nigel Heydon
Paul Nicholson (8) 6-0 Mark Hylton
Michael Barnard 6-3 Reece Robinson
Kenny MacNeil 6-4 Wayne Jones (25)
Nick Fullwell 6-5 Ross Smith
Jamie Caven (9) 6-1 Ricky Sudale
Magnus Caris 6-5 Marc Dewsbury
Mark Webster (24) 6-0 Ian Walters
Keegan Brown 6-5 Andy Parsons
John Part (5) 6-4 Gareth Pass
Keith Stephen 6-3 Barrie Bates
Scott Rand (28) 6-1 Andy Pearce
John Bowles 6-5 Sam Hill
Stuart Kellett (12) 6-3 Sean Ryan
Terry Temple 6-5 Kevin McDine
Arron Monk (21) 6-4 Steve Brown
Joey Palfreyman 6-4 Geoff Whitworth
Matt Clark 6-5 Kim Huybrechts (4)
David Pallett 6-2 Steve Grubb
Michael Smith (29) 6-2 Stephen Hardy
Alex Roy 6-2 Jamie Robinson
Justin Pipe (13) 6-5 James Richardson
Steve Hine 6-3 Ian Moss
Kevin Painter (20) 6-3 Lee Palfreyman
Dennis Priestley 6-4 Mick Todd
Dave Chisnall (2) 6-2 Jyhan Artut
Alan Tabern 6-2 Josh Payne
Paul Amos 6-5 James Hubbard (31)
Colin Fowler 6-4 Bernd Roith
Colin Lloyd (15) 6-3 Campbell Jackson
Tony West 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Andy Smith (18) 6-4 Ryan de Vreede
Darren Johnson 6-4 Kevin Dowling
Ian White (7) 6-0 Ronny Huybrechts
Prakash Jiwa 6-1 Ryan Harrington
Steve Beaton (26) 6-4 Keith Rooney
Dan Russell 6-4 Matthew Dicken
Ronnie Baxter (10) 6-1 Michael Mansell
Steve West 6-1 Jim Walker
Peter Hudson 6-4 Richie Burnett (23)
Co Stompe 6-3 Gaz Cousins
Peter Wright (6) 6-3 Ricky Evans
Dennis Smith 6-3 Darren Whittingham
Roland Scholten 6-2 Vincent van der Voort (27)
Vernon Sheppard 6-5 John Henderson
Mervyn King (11) 6-3 Adrian Gray
Jelle Klaasen 6-0 John Scott
Colin Osborne (22) 6-3 Steve Farmer
Mark Frost 6-2 Stephen McNally
Wes Newton (3) 6-3 William O’Connor
Matthew Edgar 6-4 Mark Jones
Alan Derrett 6-1 Dean Winstanley (30)
Connie Finnan 6-4 Mark Dudbridge
Gary Anderson (14) 6-3 Adam Hunt
Jamie Lewis 6-4 Jerry Hendriks
Mark Walsh (19) 6-5 Andy Jenkins
David Dodds 6-0 David Copley

Second Round
Robert Thornton 6-3 Lee Hayes
Darren Webster 6-2 Ted Hankey
Joe Murnan 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Terry Jenkins 6-5 Paul Barham
Paul Nicholson 6-3 Michael Barnard
Kenny MacNeil 6-2 Nick Fullwell
Jamie Caven 6-2 Magnus Caris
Keegan Brown 6-4 Mark Webster
John Part 6-2 Keith Stephen
John Bowles 6-2 Scott Rand
Terry Temple 6-4 Stuart Kellett
Joey Palfreyman 6-5 Arron Monk
David Pallett 6-2 Matt Clark
Alex Roy 6-5 Michael Smith
Justin Pipe 6-4 Steve Hine
Dennis Priestley 6-5 Kevin Painter
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Alan Tabern
Paul Amos 6-4 Colin Fowler
Colin Lloyd 6-4 Tony West
Andy Smith 6-2 Darren Johnson
Ian White 6-4 Prakash Jiwa
Steve Beaton 6-3 Dan Russell
Ronnie Baxter 6-3 Steve West
Co Stompe 6-4 Peter Hudson
Peter Wright 6-2 Dennis Smith
Roland Scholten 6-5 Vernon Sheppard
Jelle Klaasen 6-5 Mervyn King
Mark Frost 6-5 Colin Osborne
Wes Newton 6-1 Matthew Edgar
Connie Finnan 6-3 Alan Derrett
Gary Anderson 6-1 Jamie Lewis
Mark Walsh 6-0 David Dodds
Losers £250

Third Round
Robert Thornton 6-5 Darren Webster
Joe Murnan 6-2 Terry Jenkins
Kenny MacNeil 6-4 Paul Nicholson
Jamie Caven 6-2 Keegan Brown
John Bowles 6-4 John Part
Terry Temple 6-5 Joey Palfreyman
Alex Roy 6-1 David Pallett
Justin Pipe 6-1 Dennis Preistley
Paul Amos 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Andy Smith 6-2 Colin Lloyd
Steve Beaton 6-4 Ian White
Ronnie Baxter 6-1 Co Stompe
Peter Wright 6-0 Roland Scholten
Jelle Klaasen 6-1 Mark Frost
Wes Newton 6-4 Connie Finnan
Gary Anderson 6-2 Mark Walsh
Losers £500

Fourth Round
Robert Thornton 6-1 Joe Murnan
Jamie Caven 6-4 Kenny MacNeil
John Bowles 6-4 Terry Temple
Alex Roy 6-5 Justin Pipe
Andy Smith 6-5 Paul Amos
Steve Beaton 6-0 Ronnie Baxter
Jelle Klaasen 6-4 Peter Wright
Gary Anderson 6-2 Wes Newton
Losers £1,000

Jamie Caven 6-1 Robert Thornton
Alex Roy 6-4 John Bowles
Andy Smith 6-3 Steve Beaton
Jelle Klaasen 6-1 Gary Anderson
Losers £1,500

Jamie Caven 6-3 Alex Roy
Jelle Klaasen 6-4 Andy Smith
Losers £2,500

Jamie Caven 6-4 Jelle Klaasen
Winner £10,000
Runner-Up £5,000

Players Championship 3 Report 

Jamie Caven produced a brilliant display of darts to win his first PDC ProTour title since February 2011 as he overcame Paul Nicholson 6-4 in the decider of the third Players Championship event of the year in Wigan on Saturday.

The Derby based thrower showed signs of a return to form by reaching last week’s European Darts Open semi-final last week, and he also finished runner-up to Robert Thornton in a UK Open Qualifier back in March, but this time he went one stage further to collect the £10,000 first prize.

Caven started the day well dropping just one leg to Steve Coote and Mark Frost before defeating Alan Derrett by a 6-3 margin to reach the last 16.

The 37-year-old then stepped up a gear as he beat Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts 6-2 before thumping the experienced Kevin Painter 6-1, to reach the last four stage where he beat Thornton to reach the final.

Caven established total command against Paul Nicholson at the start of the decider as he won the opening three legs before Nicholson took out 66 to get a leg on the board.

Caven restored his three-leg advantage with an excellent 13-darter only for Nicholson to apply pressure on his opponent as he won the next two legs to reduce the gap to one.

Nicholson crucially missed three darts at double 16 to level, which proved costly as Caven landed double top for a 5-3 lead.

Nicholson landed double 18 to win the ninth leg after Caven missed a dart to win the match, but the Derby man was not to be denied as he took out 76 to end Nicholson’s hopes.

Nicholson opened up his run to a second final in the space of four weeks with wins over Chris Aubrey and impressive Dutchman Jerry Hendriks.

The world number 15 then recorded good wins over the experienced duo of Steve Beaton and Mervyn King, before edging out Mark Walsh in a deciding-leg to secure a quarter-final place.

Nicholson then defeated Northern Ireland’s Michael Mansell and world number ten Justin Pipe to reach the final, before being edged out for the £10,000 first prize by Caven.

Thornton began his run to the semi-finals with comfortable wins over Jason Marriott and Darron Brown before recovering from 5-3 deficit to overcome Darren Webster in a deciding-leg.

The Scotsman beat Andy Smith 6-3 to reach the last eight, where he overcame the tough challenge of Dennis Priestley with a 6-2 triumph, to keep hopes of a third victory in Wigan this year.

However, hopes of that feat being achieved were ended when he fell to a 6-3 loss at the hands of the brilliant Caven.

Justin Pipe enjoyed his best performance so far in 2013 as he reached the last four, after three quarter-final appearances.

The Taunton man came from behind to beat Ricky Sudale 6-5 at the last 16 stage before producing an excellent display to see off Gary Anderson, but was denied a spot in the final by Nicholson.

Northern Ireland’s Mansell, who impressed on Friday night to qualify for the Gibraltar Darts Trophy next month, recorded his best performance on the ProTour since October 2010, as he reached the last eight.

Painter’s run to the quarter-finals saw him enjoy his best performance since a semi-final appearance in a UK Open Qualifier in Crawley, two months ago, while Anderson continued his consistent form on the ProTour with a run to last eight, to go with his four semi-final appearances so far in 2013.

Yorkshire legend Dennis Priestley, produced a fine display of darts to reach the quarter-finals and take away £1,500 in prize money.

Competing for just for the fifth time on the ProTour in 2013, the veteran two-time World Champion he recorded whitewash wins over Steve McNally and former major finalist Ronnie Baxter to make a very strong start.

Priestley then overcame Kevin Dowling and Stuart Kellett by 6-4 margins to reach the quarter-finals, where he found Thornton too strong an opponent.

Ricky Sudale, who won a Tour Card in January and reached the quarter-finals of a UK Open Qualifier in Crawley three months ago, produced a fine display to reach the last 16 in Wigan.

The 46-year-old from Derbyshire, who defeated James Hubbard and Ian White along the way, was denied a second quarter-final appearance after agonisingly losing a deciding-leg to Pipe, after establishing a 5-3 advantage.

Players Championship 3 Results

Saturday May 25
Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan

First Round
Dave Chisnall (1) Bye
Jyhan Artut 6-5 Jamie Robinson
Michael Mansell 6-4 Ronny Huybrechts (32)
Colin Fowler 6-4 Jim Walker
Jelle Klaasen 6-1 Mark Webster (16)
Magnus Caris 6-5 Matthew Dicken
Mark Walsh (17) 6-5 Roland Scholten
Keith Rooney 6-5 Keith Stephen
Paul Nicholson (8) 6-3 Chris Aubrey
Jerry Hendriks 6-4 John Henderson
Steve Beaton (25) 6-3 Terry Temple
Michael Barnard 6-5 Ted Hankey
Mervyn King (9) 6-0 Ian Walters
Steve Grubb 6-4 Co Stompe
Mark Jones 6-5 Wayne Jones (24)
Keegan Brown 6-1 Mark Hylton
Ian White (5) 6-2 John Scott
Ryan de Vreede 6-4 Adam Hunt
Ricky Sudale 6-3 James Hubbard (28)
Matt Clark 6-4 Dan Russell
Justin Pipe (12) 6-5 Andy Pearce
James Richardson 6-4 Darren Johnson
Riche Burnett (21) 6-3 Gareth Pass
Steve West 6-5 Joe Murnan
John Part (4) 6-2 Kevin McDine
Steve Brown 6-4 Andy Parsons
Michael Smith (29) 6-3 Matthew Edgar
Alan Tabern 6-3 Darren Whittingham
Gary Anderson (13) 6-1 Daryl Gurney
Steve Farmer 6-2 Alex Roy
Arron Monk (20) 6-3 Bernd Roith
David Dodds 6-2 Marc Dewsbury
Robert Thornton (2) 6-1 Jason Marriott
Darron Brown 6-4 Nigel Heydon
Darren Webster (31) 6-2 Josh Payne
Nick Fullwell 6-5 John Bowles
Brendan Dolan (15) 6-2 Steve Hine
Adrian Gray 6-2 Lee Palfreyman
Andy Smith (18) 6-3 Mark Dudbridge
Campbell Jackson 6-3 Paul Amos
Ronnie Baxter (7) 6-3 Vernon Sheppard
Dennis Priestley 6-0 Stephen McNally
Kevin Dowling 6-4 Scott Rand (26)
Barrie Bates 6-0 Kentaro Suzuki
Stuart Kellett (10) 6-2 Dennis Smith
Ross Smith 6-3 Andy Jenkins
Mick Todd 6-5 Colin Osborne (23)
Paul Barham 6-4 Joey Palfreyman
Peter Wright (6) 6-2 Lee Hayes
Kenny MacNeil 6-5 Ian Moss
Vincent van der Voort (27) 6-4 William O’Connor
Richie Howson 6-2 Stephen Hardy
Colin Lloyd (11) 6-1 Jamie Lewis
Ricky Evans 6-5 Peter Hudson
Kevin Painter (22) 6-3 Reece Robinson
Joe Cullen 6-3 Gaz Cousins
Kim Huybrechts (3) 6-2 Sean Ryan
Tony West 6-1 David Pallett
Dean Winstanley (30) 6-5 David Copley
Connie Finnan 6-5 Prakash Jiwa
Alan Derrett 6-4 Terry Jenkins (14)
Johnny Haines 6-5 Matt Padgett
Jamie Caven (19) 6-0 Steve Coote
Mark Frost 6-3 Ryan Harrington

Second Round
Jyhan Artut 6-5 Dave Chisnall
Michael Mansell 6-5 Colin Fowler
Magnus Caris 6-5 Jelle Klaasen
Mark Walsh 6-2 Keith Rooney
Paul Nicholson 6-2 Jerry Hendriks
Steve Beaton 6-2 Michael Barnard
Mervyn King 6-1 Steve Grubb
Mark Jones 6-4 Keegan Brown
Ian White 6-2 Ryan de Vreede
Ricky Sudale 6-2 Matt Clark
Justin Pipe 6-1 James Richardson
Richie Burnett 6-3 Steve West
Steve Brown 6-4 John Part
Michael Smith 6-4 Alan Tabern
Gary Anderson 6-4 Steve Farmer
David Dodds 6-4 Arron Monk
Robert Thornton 6-2 Darron Brown
Darren Webster 6-3 Nick Fullwell
Brendan Dolan 6-0 Adrian Gray
Andy Smith 6-2 Campbell Jackson
Dennis Priestley 6-0 Ronnie Baxter
Kevin Dowling 6-4 Barrie Bates
Stuart Kellett 6-4 Ross Smith
Mick Todd 6-5 Paul Barham
Peter Wright 6-0 Kenny MacNeil
Vincent van der Voort 6-2 Richie Howson
Colin Lloyd 6-2 Ricky Evans
Kevin Painter 6-4 Joe Cullen
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Tony West
Dean Winstanley 6-5 Connie Finnan
Alan Derrett 6-4 Johnny Haines
Jamie Caven 6-1 Mark Frost
Losers £250

Third Round
Michael Mansell 6-2 Jyhan Artut
Mark Walsh 6-2 Magnus Caris
Paul Nicholson 6-3 Steve Beaton
Mervyn King 6-4 Mark Jones
Ricky Sudale 6-4 Ian White
Justin Pipe 6-4 Richie Burnett
Michael Smith 6-3 Steve Brown
Gary Anderson 6-3 David Dodds
Robert Thornton 6-5 Darren Webster
Andy Smith 6-3 Brendan Dolan
Dennis Priestley 6-4 Kevin Dowling
Stuart Kellett 6-2 Mick Todd
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Peter Wright
Kevin Painter 6-5 Colin Lloyd
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Dean Winstanley
Jamie Caven 6-3 Alan Derrett
Losers £500

Fourth Round
Michael Mansell 6-5 Mark Walsh
Paul Nicholson 6-4 Mervyn King
Justin Pipe 6-5 Ricky Sudale
Gary Anderson 6-2 Michael Smith
Robert Thornton 6-3 Andy Smith
Dennis Priestley 6-4 Stuart Kellett
Kevin Painter 6-5 Vincent van der Voort
Jamie Caven 6-2 Kim Huybrechts
Losers £1,000

Paul Nicholson 6-4 Michael Mansell
Justin Pipe 6-2 Gary Anderson
Robert Thornton 6-2 Dennis Preistley
Jamie Caven 6-1 Kevin Painter
Losers £1,500

Paul Nicholson 6-3 Justin Pipe
Jamie Caven 6-3 Robert Thornton
Losers £2,500

Jamie Caven 6-4 Paul Nicholson
Winner £10,000
Runner-Up £5,000

Final – Leg-By-Leg
Paul Nicholson v Jamie Caven
0-0 – Caven wins the bullseye and throws first.
0-1 – Nicholson fires in a 180 but Caven claims the leg with an excellent 114 finish.
0-2 – Caven records three ton-plus scores and breaks throw on tops.
0-3 – Caven wins a third straight leg to establish command over his opponent.
1-3 – Nicholson takes out a vital 66 finish to get a leg on the board, with Caven waiting on double ten.
1-4 – Caven restores his three-leg advanatge thanks to a clinical 13-dart finish.
2-4 – Nicholson continues to fight as he takes out 32 with his opponent waiting on tops.
3-4 – Nicholson kicks-off with a maximum and nicks the leg after Caven misses opportunties for a 5-2 lead.
3-5 – Nicholson lands a third 180 but three missed darts at double 16 prove costly as Caven hits double top.
4-5 – Caven fails with one dart at double to win the match and Nicholson lands double 18 to set-up a tense finale.
4-6 – Caven fires in a timely 180 and takes out 76 with his opponent waiting on a two-darter to win his first ProTour title since 2011.