JOSH PAYNE won his second PDC title with a 6-5 victory over Peter Wright in the final of Players Championship 12 at Arena MK in Milton Keynes on Sunday.
The 24-year-old edged a nail-biting deciding leg against Wright, the world number two who is still in search of his first title of the year.
Payne recorded wins over Steve West, Zoran Lerchbacher, Christian Kist, Mervyn King, Jonny Clayton, Ian White and Wright en route to clinching the £10,000 top prize.
A winner of a Players Championship event in 2016 and last year's PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship runner-up, Payne had only reached one semi-final on the ProTour in 2018 before going all the way in Sunday’s event.
“I’m delighted that my hard work is paying off,” said Payne, who also has two PDC Unicorn Development Tour titles to his name.
“Peter is a good friend of mine but I had to put that aside for the final.
“I played some really good darts all day which was very pleasing for me.
“I had a tough year last year, and since then I’ve really put the work in and dug deep so to see it paying off makes me really happy.
“I hit some big scores and took out some big finishes all day and I had to hold it together in that final leg.”
Wright broke the Payne throw in the opening leg, before the Englishman broke back straight away, and then won the next two legs to take a 3-1 lead.
Former UK Open champion Wright broke back again, and then held throw to make it all square at 3-3.
Both players twice exchanged holds of throw to set up a tense deciding leg, which saw Payne hold his nerve to clinch the Players Championship 12 crown.
Earlier in the day, Wright defeated Martin Schindler, Jan Dekker, Paul Nicholson, Steve Beaton, Ricky Evans and Brendan Dolan to reach his second ProTour final of 2018.
Dolan's run to the semis completed a fine weekend for the Northern Irish ace, who enjoyed success in two European Tour UK Qualifiers on Friday before reaching Saturday's quarter-finals.
Elsewhere, Players Championship 11 winner Gary Anderson went out to Ricky Evans in the last 16, Daryl Gurney suffered a first round exit to Christian Kist, and Mensur Suljovic went out to Mickey Mansell in round three.
Dave Chisnall lost in the second round to Evans, Michael Smith went out in the quarter-finals to Ian White, Simon Whitlock lost to Cody Harris in round two, and James Wade was beaten by Clayton in the last 16.
The next Players Championship events will be held on June 16-17 at Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan and will be streamed live on PDCTV-HD across both days.
See full Players Championship 12 results in the Match Centre.
Players Championship 12
Sunday May 20, Arena MK, Milton Keynes
Peter Wright 6-3 Steve Beaton
Ricky Evans 6-5 Gary Anderson
Mickey Mansell 6-2 Luke Woodhouse
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Michael Smith 6-2 John Henderson
Ian White 6-5 Darren Webster
Jonny Clayton 6-4 James Wade
Josh Payne 6-0 Mervyn King
Peter Wright 6-1 Ricky Evans
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Mickey Mansell
Ian White 6-5 Michael Smith
Josh Payne 6-2 Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright 6-3 Brendan Dolan
Josh Payne 6-4 Ian White
Josh Payne 6-5 Peter Wright