Scott Williams claimed a host of huge scalps to clinch his first PDC Pro Tour title in incredible fashion at Players Championship 17 on Wednesday.
Williams scooped the £12,000 top prize with an 8-5 win over former UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall in Germany, to become the first player to win a ranking title without a PDC Tour Card since Krzysztof Ratajski in February 2018.
The 32-year-old, who has been an ever-present on the professional circuit in 2022 as the Challenge Tour Order of Merit leader, defeated four televised title winners to cap off the greatest day of his darting life in Niedernhausen.
Williams had underlined his credentials with a quarter-final appearance earlier this year, but he came of age to fulfil his dreams and deny Aspinall a second Pro Tour success of the season.
Williams punished a sluggish start from Aspinall to race into an early 2-0 lead, but a 13-darter sparked a sequence of three straight legs for the Stockport star, who looked to be establishing control.
However, a brilliant 12-dart break from Williams in leg nine shifted the pendulum, with Aspinall squandering five darts at double to restore parity moments later.
The Challenge Tour star gifted Aspinall a temporary reprieve by frittering away three match darts for an 8-4 victory, but he made amends in fine style, following up two 180s with a 14-darter to seal the deal.
“I’m so pleased, I cannot believe it,” said Williams, a winner of three Challenge Tour titles in 2022.
“I am beating players that people see in big TV events every week. That is an unbelievable feeling.
“My main target was to get into the World Championship. I’m also looking good for the Players Championship Finals now. I’m so happy. I’ll just keep on going.”
Williams’ remarkable run began with victories over Gary Blades and Danny Baggish, and a stunning 11-dart leg saw him clinch a 6-5 win over Jonny Clayton in round three, after the Welshman had posted 111 and 108 averages in his opening two games.
After accounting for reigning World Cup champion John Henderson, Williams overcame European Champion Rob Cross 6-4 in the quarter-finals, before reeling off five straight legs to topple two-time Pro Tour winner Chris Dobey in the last four.
Aspinall, meanwhile, came through two last-leg deciders to open his campaign, rallying from 5-3 down to edge out Darius Labanauskas, before taking out a spectacular 170 finish in victory over Maik Kuivenhoven.
The 30-year-old then breezed past Rowby-John Rodriguez with a 104 average, before producing another stirring fightback to overhaul a 5-2 deficit against Jim Williams, averaging 102 in the process.
Aspinall swept aside Mike De Decker 6-2 in the quarter-finals, and back-to-back 156 and 132 finishes inspired him to a 7-4 success over De Decker’s compatriot Kim Huybrechts in the last four.
Huybrechts goes into the Cazoo World Cup of Darts fresh from his best performance of 2022, defeating Raymond van Barneveld, Damon Heta and whitewashing World Champion Peter Wright 6-0 in the quarter-finals.
Wright battled through to the last eight despite a host of sub-par displays, while Cross fired in three ton-plus averages before bowing out to Williams at the same stage.
De Decker saw off James Wade, Brendan Dolan and Steve Beaton to reach a second Pro Tour quarter-final of 2022, with Van Duijvenbode producing another strong showing in Germany.