James Wade produced a superb comeback to edge out a resurgent Steve Beaton in Saturday's Players Championship 30 final, as the 2022 ProTour season concluded in Barnsley.
Wade fought back from 5-2 adrift to scoop the £12,000 top prize at the Barnsley Metrodome, winning six of the last seven legs to complete a hard-fought 8-6 success.
Beaton was featuring in his first ProTour final since 2017, but it was ten-time TV title winner Wade who claimed the spoils to secure his first PDC ranking title since a UK Open success in March 2021.
The Aldershot ace made a sluggish start to Saturday’s showpiece – which began with a sequence of five consecutive breaks – before Beaton followed up a clinical 77 kill by pinning double four to lead 5-2.
Beaton also had a dart at bull to stretch his lead to 6-2, but after Wade reduced the arrears to 5-4, the left-hander registered back-to-back 13-darters to seize the initiative at 6-5.
Wade then converted a stunning 125 finish to move to the brink of victory, only to squander a match dart at tops as Beaton converted a two-dart 76 skin-saver to preserve his hopes.
Beaton looked poised to force a dramatic decider, yet Wade had other ideas, conjuring up a nerveless 101 finish to wrap up victory with his second ton-plus finish inside three legs.
“I needed that,” revealed Wade, who extends his haul of Players Championship titles to 18 following his first ProTour triumph since July 2020.
“I think I’ve got a little bit of love back for the game. It’s a new chapter for me and I’m really keen again.
“It’s my own fault that I’m in the position I’m in. I’ve been lazy, complacent and that’s why I’m finding myself playing in the Grand Slam qualifier tomorrow.
“If you’re hungry and you’re keen you win titles. If you’re not, you don’t. I need to win, because I need to get back up the rankings.”
Wade produced some early fireworks in his opening round win over Eddie Lovely, averaging 103 before sweeping aside Shaun Wilkinson 6-1 in round two.
The 39-year-old overcame Friday’s finalist Gian van Veen to move through to the last 16, where he dispatched Jamie Hughes 6-1 to set up a quarter-final showdown against Jermaine Wattimena.
Wade survived five match darts in his dramatic deciding-leg win over the Dutchman, while a 98 average catapulted him to a 7-4 success against Martin Schindler in the semi-finals.
Beaton, meanwhile, produced a string of impressive displays to pocket the £8,000 runner-up prize, having secured a place in his 32nd consecutive World Championship earlier in the afternoon.
The five-time PDC title winner kicked off his campaign with a resounding 6-2 win against John Brown, and a last-leg victory over Northern Irish star Nathan Rafferty in round two confirmed his Alexandra Palace qualification.
The 58-year-old continued his charge with battling wins over James Wilson and Mike De Decker, before a superb 103 average inspired him to a 6-4 success against Stephen Bunting in the last eight.
This set up a semi-final showdown against another St Helens-born star, Dave Chisnall, and Beaton produced an imperious display on throw to inflict his opponent's second straight semi-final defeat in Barnsley.
Chisnall posted four ton-plus averages during his run to the last four, averaging 107 in his 6-1 demolition of Chris Dobey and denying Josh Rock in a spectacular last eight tussle.
Meanwhile, Schindler - a quarter-finalist on Friday - whitewashed Madars Razma and eased past Callan Rydz in reaching the semi-finals, having dumped out former Lakeside Champions Jelle Klaasen and Richie Burnett earlier in the day.
Saturday’s action was dominated by the race to qualify for the Cazoo Players Championship Finals and the Cazoo World Darts Championship, with Connor Scutt falling just short in his bid after reaching his maiden ProTour quarter-final.
Scutt accounted for World Champion Peter Wright and Simon Whitlock in deciding-leg tussles, and a 101 average inspired him to a convincing fourth round win over Andrew Gilding.
Wattimena continued his revival to make it back-to-back Players Championship quarter-finals, while Rock and Bunting completed the last eight line-up at the Barnsley Metrodome.
Elsewhere, Ian White was one of several high-profile names to miss out on securing World Championship qualification, following his second round defeat to Raymond van Barneveld.
White, who will also miss out on the Cazoo Players Championship Finals in Minehead, must now come through the World Championship Tour Card Holder Qualifier on November 28 if he’s to feature at Alexandra Palace in December.
Dutch star Jeffrey de Zwaan, former World Championship quarter-finalist Ryan Joyce and former Grand Slam Champion Scott Waites were also unable to clinch qualification via the ProTour Order of Merit after suffering early exits on Saturday.
Following the conclusion of the 2022 Players Championship series, the Tour Card Holder Qualifier for next week’s Cazoo Grand Slam of Darts will take place in Barnsley on Sunday.
Wade and Beaton will be among the 100 players vying for the remaining eight spots in the popular Wolverhampton event, with Rob Cross assured of his spot by virtue of his two Players Championship wins in 2022.
Former Grand Slam champions Jose De Sousa, Van Barneveld and Waites will also be in action on Sunday, alongside former TV title winners Dimitri Van den Bergh, Adrian Lewis and Daryl Gurney.
2022 Players Championship 30
Saturday November 5
Stephen Bunting 6-4 Ross Smith
Steve Beaton 6-4 Mike De Decker
Josh Rock 6-3 Berry van Peer
Dave Chisnall 6-1 Chris Dobey
Jermaine Wattimena 6-5 Raymond van Barneveld
James Wade 6-1 Jamie Hughes
Connor Scutt 6-2 Andrew Gilding
Martin Schindler 6-2 Callan Rydz
Steve Beaton 6-4 Stephen Bunting
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Josh Rock
James Wade 6-5 Jermaine Wattimena
Martin Schindler 6-5 Connor Scutt
Steve Beaton 7-4 Dave Chisnall
James Wade 7-4 Martin Schindler
James Wade 8-6 Steve Beaton