Michael van Gerwen enjoyed his first ranking title win of the year at Players Championship 29 in Barnsley on Wednesday.
Van Gerwen defeated Nathan Aspinall 8-5 in the final to ensure he will not end 2021 with the unwanted record of no ranking event wins for the first time in a decade.
The world number three was a winner in Copenhagen in September at the Nordic Darts Masters, but Wednesday saw his first ranking event win since the Players Championship Finals of November 2020.
"In the last Super Series I lost three games with averages well over 100, of course that's annoying but you have to keep believing in yourself," Van Gerwen reflected.
"When that happens you have to work harder, and today was one of those hard days where you have to step up a bit and I did the right things at the right moments.
"A win like this is going to give me a lot of confidence but there's a lot of darts still to play this year and I always treat every game like a final.
"Overall, I feel good and that's the most important thing' my hunger is back and my performances are getting back to where they were."
A high-quality final saw both players average over 102, and it was Aspinall who took a 3-1 lead with a trio of 13-dart legs.
However, Van Gerwen replied with four straight legs, the last of which saw him take out 89, to take control of the contest at 5-3
Aspinall, who landed eight 180s, broke straight back to go within a leg, but crucially missed four double attempts to level in the next leg, as Van Gerwen took a 6-4 lead.
Aspinall was unable to find another break, as Van Gerwen closed it out in legs of 16 and 14 darts to end his ranking title drought.
The result also guarantees Michael Smith's place in the 2021 Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts, where he will be joined by Joe Cullen unless Players Championship 30 is won by either Chris Dobey or Callan Rydz.
Players Championship 29 also saw two nine-darters hit by Steve West and Mickey Mansell in their respective meetings with Jose de Sousa and Krzysztof Kciuk.
🚨 𝗡𝗜𝗡𝗘-𝗗𝗔𝗥𝗧𝗘𝗥 🚨— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) November 3, 2021
Where did that come from?
Mickey Mansell struck perfection in his First Round game against Krzysztof Kciuk, which galvanised him to a 6-5 victory. pic.twitter.com/Zd6RGh9rJ8
Peter Wright saw his struggle for form continue with a first round loss to James Wilson, while Jelle Klaasen reached his first ranking quarter-final since September 2020.
Super Series 8 concludes on Thursday with Players Championship 30, as players return to compete for a further £75,000 in prize money in the final ProTour event of 2021.
Live action will be broadcast across two streams on PDCTV - subscription options include a £1.99 Day Pass.
2021 Players Championship 29
Wednesday November 3
Jelle Klaasen 6-2 Michael Smith
Damon Heta 6-3 Florian Hempel
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-0 Jason Heaver
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Brendan Dolan
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Jose de Sousa
Ryan Searle 6-4 Martin Lukeman
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Martin Thomas
William O'Connor 6-5 Jonny Clayton
Damon Heta 6-0 Jelle Klaasen
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Krzysztof Ratajski
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Ryan Searle
William O'Connor 6-3 Kim Huybrechts
Michael van Gerwen 7-3 Damon Heta
Nathan Aspinall 7-4 William O'Connor
Michael van Gerwen 8-5 Nathan Aspinall