Wonderful Rock seals first senior title with sensational PC28 success

Josh Rock (Kais Bodensieck/PDC)

Josh Rock produced a series of sensational displays to clinch his first senior PDC ranking title in Barnsley, averaging 108 to defeat top seed Luke Humphries 8-5 in Sunday's Players Championship 28 final.

Rock - a beaten finalist in Thursday's Players Championship 25 - has scooped five Development Tour titles since claiming his PDC Tour Card in January, and he joined the ProTour roll of honour with a magnificent victory at the Barnsley Metrodome.

The 21-year-old defied ten maximums from Humphries to run out an 8-5 winner in an exhilarating contest, averaging 108 and winning all eight legs in 15 darts or under to secure the £12,000 top prize.

Rock established an early 2-0 lead before Humphries responded to restore parity, though Rock regained his two-leg buffer in a crucial eighth leg, converting a two-dart 68 finish after the top seed had squandered three darts at double to level.

Humphries hit back with a superb 11-darter, and took out 109 to reduce the arrears to 6-5 after Rock had fired back with an 85 checkout on the bull moments earlier.

However, the Northern Irishman was unfazed, moving to the cusp of victory with a clinical 70 combination, before pinning tops to wrap up a landmark win inside 14 darts.

"My life has been massively transformed," admitted Rock, who moves up to tenth on the Players Championship Order of Merit.

"In the last two weeks I've probably been the happiest I have been since I've been playing darts. I have been very relaxed all weekend.

"If you can win one of these titles - there were 128 players in this room and I was number one today," added Rock, who will make his Cazoo World Championship debut at Alexandra Palace in December.

"I know I can win it. I know I can go on that stage and become World Champion. It won't be easy, but I'll give it a right go."

Rock was in imperious mood throughout the afternoon in Barnsley, boasting a tournament average of 103 after landing five ton-plus averages in seven matches.

The World Youth Championship finalist opened his campaign with a 106 average in a 6-4 success against Andy Boulton, before easing past Pete Burgoyne to set up a showdown against Canadian veteran Jeff Smith.

Rock fired in back-to-back 11-darters to complete a 6-1 demolition of Smith with a 107 average, and after cruising past Jim Williams in the last 16, he averaged 106 to dispatch two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis 6-1 in the last eight.

The 21-year-old renewed his rivalry with Friday's winner Damon Heta in a repeat of their semi-final clash on Thursday, and it was an identical outcome, with Rock running out a resounding 7-3 winner.

Humphries - who was bidding to win his sixth title of 2022 - posted a sensational 110 average in his first round win over Andy Boulton, and the former UK Open runner-up also posted five 100+ averages to pocket the £8,000 runner-up prize.

The 27-year-old battled past Jose Justicia and Niels Zonneveld to book his place in the last 16, and a comprehensive 6-1 victory over Chris Dobey continued his progress.

Humphries averaged 102 to overcome a resurgent Max Hopp in the quarter-finals, and he defeated another German star in the last four - closing out a 7-2 winner over Ricardo Pietreczko, who was featuring in his first ProTour semi-final.

Pietreczko defeated Saturday's semi-finalist Ryan Meikle, his compatriot Gabriel Clemens and Ross Smith to register his best showing in a PDC ranking event, while Heta maintained his scintillating form to reach another semi-final, fresh from his Players Championship 26 triumph.

The Australian averaged 111 in a 6-3 win over Thomas Lovely, 106 to cruise past Kenny Neyens, and an incredible 114 average catapulted him to a spectacular whitewash win over Dirk van Duijvenbode in the quarter-finals, in a repeat of Friday's final.

Van Duijvenbode came out on top in a remarkable last 16 tie against Jonny Clayton, and the Dutchman was joined in the last eight by Lewis, Ross Smith and Hopp - who was featuring in his first ProTour quarter-final of 2022.

The final Players Championship double-header will now take place from November 4-5 at the Barnsley Metrodome, as the race to qualify for the Cazoo Players Championship Finals and the Cazoo World Darts Championship reaches a thrilling conclusion.

The event draw and results are listed in the Match Centre.

Live match stats can be followed through DartConnect.

Players Championship 28
Barnsley Metrodome
Sunday October 23
Last 16

Luke Humphries 6-1 Chris Dobey
Max Hopp 6-3 Ted Evetts
Ricardo Pietreczko 6-4 Gabriel Clemens
Ross Smith 6-3 Steve Beaton
Damon Heta 6-1 Kenny Neyens
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-5 Jonny Clayton
Josh Rock 6-3 Jim Williams
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Berry van Peer

Luke Humphries 6-3 Max Hopp
Ricardo Pietreczko 6-1 Ross Smith
Damon Heta 6-0 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Josh Rock 6-1 Adrian Lewis

Luke Humphries 7-2 Ricardo Pietreczko
Josh Rock 7-3 Damon Heta

Josh Rock 8-5 Luke Humphries