Nine-dart Humphries defies Chisnall fightback to claim PC15 title

Luke Humphries (Simon O'Connor, PDC)

Luke Humphries celebrated his second ranking title in the space of nine days after defying a superb fightback from Dave Chisnall to triumph in Monday’s Players Championship 15 final in Leicester.

The first event of this week’s PDC ProTour double-header saw the top two players on the ProTour Order of Merit battling it out for the title, and it was Humphries who claimed the spoils in dramatic fashion.

The triumph for Humphries comes just over a week after he took victory in the Interwetten European Darts Matchplay in Trier, and is a further boost for the world number six following a resilient display in the final.

Chisnall converted 110 and 78 combinations to establish the early initiative in Monday's showpiece, but Humphries responded with a terrific five-leg burst, reeling off legs in 12, 15, 16, 12 and 13 darts to seize control.

The former World Youth Champion took out finishes of 121, 78 and 94 during this spell, and he appeared poised to complete an emphatic victory after following up back-to-back maximums with a 116 checkout in leg ten to lead 7-3.

However, Humphries relinquished his grip on proceedings after spurning six match darts across three legs, and Chisnall capitalised to force a decider, only for the Crewe-based ace to regain his poise with a 13-dart hold to clinch the £12,000 top prize.

“I’ll be honest, my bottle started to go - I felt really nervous,” conceded Humphries, who had lost two European Tour finals to Chisnall in Kiel and Leeuwarden earlier this year.

"I've played in many European Tour finals, I've played in a major TV final, but that was the most nervous I've felt.

"All of my success has come on the TV stage and the European Tour. I think these events are so hard to win, and I'm so happy to win today, because it's been a long time since I won a floor tournament."

It was a memorable day for Humphries, who also landed his first competitive nine-darter on his way to victory in Leicester, achieving perfection in his third round clash against Canada's Matt Campbell.

"When I hit it I celebrated a bit, because it's a big moment for me," added the 28-year-old, who had only won a solitary Players Championship title previously.

"I think that was my tenth attempt at a double for a nine-darter on the ProTour, and today was finally my day.

"I don't think I played my best darts today, but I kept grinding out results and when I got to the latter stages I started producing.

"I was maybe a little lucky to get through to that stage, but I will take the title!"

Humphries - who lifted his fifth European Tour title in Trier - battled through to the last 16 with wins over Thibault Tricole, Shaun Wilkinson and Matt Campbell, producing his nine-dart heroics in leg four of his clash against the Canadian.

The former UK Open runner-up then raced past Rusty-Jake Rodriguez in the last 16, and after averaging 105 to account for Jonny Clayton in the last eight, he demolished Brendan Dolan 7-2 in the semi-finals to set up his showdown against Chisnall.

Chisnall, meanwhile, kicked off Monday’s action with a trio of 6-2 victories, brushing aside Damian Mol and registering ton-plus averages in wins over Conan Whitehead and Luke Woodhouse, before whitewashing Owen Bates in the last 16.

The top seed then defied a 103 average from Joe Cullen to prevail in a thrilling quarter-final tie, and he recorded his fourth ton-plus average of the day to complete a resounding 7-3 success against Ryan Searle in the semi-finals.

Searle averaged 107 to demolish Jeffrey de Zwaan in his performance of the afternoon, before later dumping out Germany’s number one Gabriel Clemens in reaching the last four.

Elsewhere, Dolan claimed a first career victory over his younger compatriot Josh Rock during his run to the semi-finals, having also averaged 103 in his third round rout of Martin Schindler.

Cullen and Clayton impressed despite their quarter-final exits, and they were joined in the last eight by Challenge Tour star Berry van Peer and Poland’s Radek Szaganski, who made his televised debut at the weekend's Superbet Poland Darts Masters.

This week’s ProTour action concludes with Players Championship 16 on Tuesday, with live coverage streamed through PDCTV and bookmakers' websites worldwide from 1300 BST at Leicester's Morningside Arena.

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

Live match stats can be followed through DartConnect.

2023 Players Championship 15
Morningside Arena, Leicester, Monday July 10
Last 16

Dave Chisnall 6-0 Owen Bates
Joe Cullen 6-1 Dylan Slevin
Berry van Peer 6-2 Ian White
Ryan Searle 6-3 Kevin Doets
Luke Humphries 6-1 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Chris Dobey
Radek Szaganski 6-5 Damon Heta
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Josh Rock

Dave Chisnall 6-5 Joe Cullen
Ryan Searle 6-3 Berry van Peer
Luke Humphries 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Brendan Dolan 6-2 Radek Szaganski

Dave Chisnall 7-3 Ryan Searle
Luke Humphries 7-2 Brendan Dolan

Luke Humphries 8-7 Dave Chisnall