Gutsy Dobey claims maiden ranking title at PC18

Chris Dobey (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Chris Dobey claimed the first ranking title of his career in dramatic fashion to edge out Jose de Sousa in Tuesday's Players Championship 18 final in Coventry.

The Bedlington thrower won through to his fifth ranking final with some brilliant darts during the event, but looked set to agonisingly miss out once more.

De Sousa came from 3-0 and 4-1 down to lead 7-6, but missed eight match darts in the next two legs as Dobey snatched a dramatic win.

The ยฃ10,000 prize money also puts Dobey into a provisional qualifying place for the Betfred World Matchplay, with just two more ProTour events remaining before the 32-player field is confirmed.

Dobey dropped just two legs in wins over Jeff Smith and Luke Humphries - averaging over 105 in his opener - and had to come through a deciding leg against Willie Borland to reach the last 16.

There, he defeated Premier League and Masters champion Jonny Clayton 6-3, before going all the way against Monday's winner Stephen Bunting and Dutchman Maik Kuivenhoven to book a spot in the final.

Dobey raced into a 3-0 lead in the final in just 43 darts, but De Sousa found his range as legs of 11, 11, 12 and 14 darts sawย him level the tie after eight legs.

Dobey edged back in front on double ten, but the Grand Slam champion levelled by finishing 96 and then produced a 12-darter to break throw and lead for the first time at 6-5.

Dobey levelled on double two, but saw De Sousa move 7-6 up with a clinical 122 checkout to move to the brink of a fourth title of 2021.

However, the Portuguese missed double 18 and three darts at double nine in the next leg as Dobey saved the game on double eight, before De Sousa saw a dart at the bull for a 170 finish in the decider also go begging.

Dobey then missed two darts at double 20, but De Sousa was off-target with three more championship darts - this time at double 15 - to hand the Bedlington ace a reprieve which he took on tops.

"To finally get a title means the world," said Dobey. "I'm happy with today - I've played solid all day.

"I've played in local competitions and last-leg deciders have been my game, and I've proven it today. I was down and out against Willie Borland, same against Stephen Bunting.

"I don't think I've ever lost against Jose - I've got a great record.

"I've never been so nervous in my life going for those doubles [at the end of the final]. They weren't far away but he missed doubles, he probably should have won but I've done it now.

"I've had the experience of being in finals before but I haven't got over that winning line. I've said for a long time now that once I get that first one then hopefully I can get some more under my belt."

Tuesday's event saw Dobey reach his first final for over two years and was also the first time in 2021 where he has won past the last 16, giving him hope of claiming a return to the World Matchplay later this month.

"I was a mile out before this week," he admitted. "I've been playing well for quite a few months and had no luck whatsoever.

"It will be amazing to play in front of fans again - I think that's what everybody's missing. Hopefully I can keep performing like I did today, and who knows."

De Sousa had come from 6-4 down in the semi-finals against Ryan Searle to claim the last three legs, surviving three missed match darts from the Englishman and taking out 152 and 107 to book his spot in the decider.

He also defeated Darius Labanauskas in a deciding leg, but dropped just a total of six legs in other wins over Mervyn King, Steve Lennon, Jelle Klaasen and Adam Gawlas.

Searle and Kuivenhoven were narrow semi-final losers, while King and Bunting were joined in the quarter-finals by Scott Mitchell and Croatia's Boris Krcmar - who picked up a memorable win over World Champion Gerwyn Price as he reached the last eight for the second time in 2021.

Tuesday's event also featured the rare achievement of nine-dart finishes from both players in a match, as Danny Noppert and then Martin Atkins landed perfect legs in a second round tie which Dutchmanย Noppertย won 6-3.

The week's action at the Coventry Building Society Arena continues on Wednesday with Players Championship 19, with play commencing at 1200 BST.

Watch live in PDCTV, with two streaming boards available throughout the event. Subscription options include Annual, Monthly, Event and Day passes.

See full results in the Match Centre.

See live stats with DartConnect.

Players Championship 18
Tuesday July 6, Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry
Last 16

Jose de Sousa 6-5 Darius Labanauskas
Mervyn King 6-5 Vincent van der Voort
Ryan Searle 6-3 Chas Barstow
Boris Krcmar 6-4 Gerwyn Price
Stephen Bunting 6-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Chris Dobey 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-2 Jesus Noguera
Scott Mitchell 6-5 Ron Meulenkamp

Quarter-Finals
Jose de Sousa 6-1 Mervyn King
Ryan Searle 6-0ย Boris Krcmar
Chris Dobey 6-5 Stephen Buntingย 
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-5ย Scott Mitchell

Semi-Finals
Jose de Sousa 7-6 Ryan Searle
Chris Dobey 7-6 Maik Kuivenhoven

Final
Chris Dobey 8-7 Jose de Sousa

Nine-Darters!
Danny Noppert and Martin Atkins both achieved nine-dart finishes during their second round tie - Noppert in leg two and Atkins in leg six.