Thibault Tricole and Jacques Labre celebrated Winmau Challenge Tour titles on a landmark day for French darts in Leicester.
The French duo shared the spoils as the final weekend of this year’s Challenge Tour began with a thrilling double-header at the Morningside Arena on Saturday.
Tricole broke new ground by becoming the first Frenchman to lift a PDC title in the day’s opening event, defeating emerging Dutch star Gian van Veen 5-3 to claim Event 21 glory.
Tricole – aided by 125 and 96 finishes – raced into a 4-0 lead in the final, only for the 20-year-old to reel off three consecutive legs and threaten an unlikely comeback.
However, Van Veen – a winner at Event 12 in July – squandered six darts at double to force a deciding leg, and Tricole profited to seal the deal with a 16-darter via double eight.
The Frenchman had kicked off his campaign with a whitewash win over Carl Dockerill, which he followed with wins over James Green, David Wawrzewski and Steve Haggerty.
Tricole posted a 101 average to dispatch Ryan Hogarth 5-2 in the last 16, and after sweeping aside Ben West in the last eight, the 33-year-old recovered from 4-3 down to edge out Carlo van Peer in the semi-finals.
Van Veen began Saturday’s action with a deciding-leg win over Scottish veteran Jim McEwan, before producing a sensational 112 average in his five-leg blitz of fellow Dutchman Roemer Mooijman.
He also defeated experienced duo Robert Thornton and Colin Osborne, and a dominant 5-1 win over his compatriot Owen Roelofs booked his place in a second Challenge Tour final of 2022.
Fresh from Tricole’s heroics, Labre followed in his compatriot’s footsteps by defeating Lee Evans 5-3 to scoop the £2,000 top prize in Event 22.
Labre started strongly, following up a 15-dart hold in leg one with a spectacular 158 checkout to move 3-1 ahead, before successive 15 and 14-dart breaks catapulted him to a historic victory.
The 39-year-old was the epitome of consistency throughout the afternoon, averaging over 90 in all six of his matches en route to the final.
After whitewashing Jeroen Mioch in his opener, Labre defeated Darryl Pilgrim and then dumped out Challenge Tour Order of Merit leader Scott Williams 5-3 to move through to the last 16.
The Frenchman then edged out Francois Schweyen, and after battling past Ryan Hogarth in the last eight, Labre defied a spirited fightback from Robert Owen to prevail in a thrilling nine-leg semi-final tussle.
Evans denied former Lakeside Champion Christian Kist and PDC World Youth Championship finalist Nathan Girvan to seal his place in Saturday’s showpiece, but he fell just short in his bid to land a first Challenge Tour title since 2017.
Kist fired in a superb 107 average earlier in the event, while fellow Dutchman Roy van de Griendt achieved perfection in his last 64 clash against Jan Hlavacek, only to succumb with a 104 average in a remarkable tie.
Ahead of a decisive double-header on Sunday, Williams still boasts a sizeable £3,550 lead over Robert Owen on the Challenge Tour Order of Merit.
Dutch ace Danny van Trijp trails Owen by just £500, while Tricole and Labre rise to fifth and 13th respectively following their success on Saturday.
The top two players from the final 2022 Challenge Tour Order of Merit will secure a PDC Tour Card for 2023/24 and a place in the 2022/23 Cazoo World Darts Championship.
The winner of the Challenge Tour Order of Merit will also qualify for next month's Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton.
PDC Winmau Challenge Tour
Saturday October 15
Morningside Arena, Leicester
Owen Roelofs 5-1 Reece Robinson
Gian van Veen 5-3 Colin Osborne
Thibault Tricole 5-1 Ben West
Carlo van Peer 5-2 Jelle Klaasen
Gian van Veen 5-1 Owen Roelofs
Thibault Tricole 5-4 Carlo van Peer
Thibault Tricole 5-3 Gian van Veen
Robert Owen 5-1 Daniel Ayres
Jacques Labre 5-3 Ryan Hogarth
Nathan Girvan 5-2 Geoffrey Murray
Lee Evans 5-4 Christian Kist
Jacques Labre 5-4 Robert Owen
Lee Evans 5-3 Nathan Girvan
Jacques Labre 5-3 Lee Evans