Kim Huybrechts stormed to Players Championship 3 victory in Barnsley on Saturday, courtesy of a comprehensive 8-1 win against Germany’s number one Gabriel Clemens.
Huybrechts produced a series of dominant displays to scoop the £12,000 top prize at the Barnsley Metrodome, before dispatching Clemens in Saturday's showpiece to clinch his first PDC title since 2015.
Clemens suffered an 8-0 whitewash defeat at the hands of Dirk van Duijvenbode in a ProTour final 12 months ago, and he looked poised to suffer the same fate at one stage.
Huybrechts drew first blood with a clinical two-dart 78 checkout, before punishing Clemens’ profligacy to race into a 5-0 lead, despite the German having darts at double to win four of those legs.
The Antwerp ace then converted 70 and 117 finishes in consecutive legs to move to the brink of victory at 7-0, only for Clemens to open his account in leg eight with a 103 outshot.
However, that only provided Clemens with a temporary reprieve, as Huybrechts sealed the deal with a 16-dart hold via double eight to return to the winner’s circle in style.
“This means the world to me. I’m so happy,” reflected Huybrechts, celebrating his fifth PDC title.
"I've been working really hard since the World Championship. I lost two games last weekend with a 103 and 98 average and I was thinking this can't happen all the time, but the level is so high these days.
“When I won my last title, I was on the up. My name was always there and now I wasn’t even in the conversation, so this win means everything.
“I want to be back in that top 16. I want to be qualified for everything. I want to be up there again in the top ten of the world.
“That is my goal and some people will say I won’t reach it, but you have to set goals in your life, and I believe in my own ability.”
The Belgian trailblazer underlined his credentials with a stunning opening round win over Devon Petersen, averaging 112 to sweep aside the South African star.
Huybrechts saw off Players Championship 1 semi-finalist Dylan Slevin and posted a 102 average to overcome Premier League star Nathan Aspinall, before easing past Ricardo Pietreczko to book his last eight spot.
The 37-year-old then defied a valiant fightback from Josh Rock to secure his spot in the semi-finals, producing a 13-dart hold in a last-leg decider after Rock came roaring back from 5-1 down to level.
This set up a semi-final showdown against his old adversary Gerwyn Price, but the Belgian ran out a convincing 7-3 winner, despite a brief rally from the Welshman midway through the contest.
Clemens – appearing in his seventh PDC final – was unable to land his elusive first ranking title, but he continued his strong start to 2023 to secure the £8,000 runner-up prize.
The World Championship semi-finalist cruised past Jules van Dongen in his opener, which he followed up with wins over Jose Justicia, Kevin Doets and European Champion Ross Smith.
Clemens continued his progress with a quarter-final victory over Latvia’s Madars Razma, before reeling off four consecutive legs from 4-3 adrift to defeat Canada’s Matt Campbell in the last four.
Campbell claimed the scalps of Dutch trio Vincent van der Voort, Niels Zonneveld and Gian van Veen in reaching the semi-finals, while also overcoming Bradley Brooks and Mike De Decker.
Price, meanwhile, marked his first ProTour appearance of 2023 with a strong showing in Barnsley, edging out James Hurrell 6-5 with a 104 average in his performance of the day.
The Welshman also saw off Callum Goffin, Scott Williams, Richard Veenstra and Andrew Gilding to advance to the semi-finals, claiming £4,000 for his exploits.
Remarkably, there were eight different nationalities represented in Saturday’s quarter-finals, with Gilding, Razma and Van Veen succumbing in the last eight alongside World Youth Champion Rock.
This weekend’s ProTour action continues on Sunday, with Players Championship 4 taking place at the Barnsley Metrodome, as 128 players battle it out for the £12,000 top prize live on PDCTV.
2023 Players Championship 3
Saturday February 18
Andrew Gilding 6-3 Jamie Hughes
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Richard Veenstra
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Ricardo Pietreczko
Josh Rock 6-3 Adam Warner
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Ross Smith
Madars Razma 6-4 Danny Noppert
Matt Campbell 6-2 Niels Zonneveld
Gian van Veen 6-4 Jonny Clayton
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Andrew Gilding
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Josh Rock
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Madars Razma
Matt Campbell 6-3 Gian van Veen
Kim Huybrechts 7-3 Gerwyn Price
Gabriel Clemens 7-4 Matt Campbell
Kim Huybrechts 8-1 Gabriel Clemens