Red-hot Heta wins Players Championship 16 in Leicester

Damon Heta (PDC)

Damon Heta produced a magnificent display to clinch his second ProTour title of the year, storming to an 8-4 victory against Ryan Joyce in Tuesday’s Players Championship 16 final in Leicester.

The Australian number one saved his best performance of the day for Tuesday’s decider, averaging 103 and landing six maximums to triumph at the Morningside Arena.

Heta’s eighth PDC title marks the perfect preparation ahead of the 2023 Betfred World Matchplay, which takes place at Blackpool’s iconic Winter Gardens from July 15-23.

The 35-year-old will take on World Youth Champion Josh Rock in an intriguing first round clash in Blackpool, and Heta is relishing his latest clash against the emerging Northern Irishman.

“I’ve been to the World Matchplay a couple of times before and it hasn’t worked out for me so far, but with this new approach, I’m feeling confident,” declared Heta.

“It’s going to be tough against Josh [Rock] who is a great player, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and whatever happens, I will still come out smiling.

“I’m absolutely stoked with where my game is at right now, but I’m not putting that pressure on myself where everything is a must.

“I’m just going to play my game, have a bit of fun and hopefully it goes my way.

“I consider myself a potential champion in every game that I play. I’ve got the game, I’ve beaten everyone, so there’s no reason why I can’t lift the title.”

Heta was consistency personified in Leicester, overcoming Owen Roelofs in his opener, before winning through deciding-leg ties against Owen Bates and Ricardo Pietreczko.

He then eased past Kevin Doets in the last 16, while convincing wins over James Wade and Joe Cullen saw him progress to his second ProTour final in the space of three events.

Joyce drew first blood in Tuesday’s final with a superb 12-dart hold, but Heta soon found his range, converting 104 and 102 finishes to level proceedings at three apiece.

The former World Cup winner then fired in a 12-dart break to hit the front in leg seven, sparking a run of three consecutive legs as he opened up a commanding 6-3 cushion.

Joyce stopped the rot with a 78 combination on tops to preserve his hopes, only for Heta to seal the deal in style, conjuring up back-to-back 11-darters to secure his fifth Players Championship crown.

Joyce, meanwhile, defeated four seeded stars to scoop the £8,000 runner-up prize, defeating former Lakeside champions Richie Burnett and Steve Beaton to kick off his campaign.

The 37-year-old averaged 102 to topple Beaton, and also claimed the scalps of Martin Schindler, Dirk van Duijvenbode and Jose de Sousa to reach his first PDC ranking final since July 2020.

Elsewhere, Cullen continued his fine form with a run to the semi-finals, defeating his World Matchplay opponent Mike De Decker and averaging 107 to demolish Daryl Gurney in the last 16.

De Sousa also impressed in Leicester, coming through three last-leg shoot-outs and averaging 110 to stun Jonny Clayton in a remarkable quarter-final showdown.

Clayton was featuring in his second quarter-final in as many days, while Van Duijvenbode registered four consecutive ton-plus averages in his run to the last eight.

Elsewhere, UK Open champion Andrew Gilding defied a nine-dart finish from a superb Christian Kist to make the quarter-finals, where he was also joined by ten-time TV title winner James Wade.

Monday’s winner Luke Humphries suffered an opening round exit to Czech star Karel Sedlacek, while Rock, Chris Dobey and Gary Anderson were among the other first-round casualties. 

The PDC ProTour will resume on August 26-27, with Players Championships 17-18 set to take place at Halle 39 in Hildesheim, with coverage from all four streaming boards broadcast live on PDCTV.

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

Click here for results & match stats.

2023 Players Championship 16
Tuesday July 11, Morningside Arena, Leicester
Last 16

Andrew Gilding 6-4 Christian Kist
Joe Cullen 6-1 Daryl Gurney
Damon Heta 6-2 Kevin Doets
James Wade 6-2 Vincent van der Voort
Jose de Sousa 6-5 Ronny Huybrechts
Jonny Clayton 6-0 Danny Noppert
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-1 Connor Scutt
Ryan Joyce 6-3 Martin Schindler

Joe Cullen 6-5 Andrew Gilding
Damon Heta 6-3 James Wade
Jose de Sousa 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Ryan Joyce 6-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode

Damon Heta 7-2 Joe Cullen
Ryan Joyce 7-4 Jose de Sousa

Damon Heta 8-4 Ryan Joyce