Nathan Aspinall produced a sensational display of finishing to clinch his second title of 2022 with an 8-3 victory over Krzysztof Ratajski at Players Championship 22 on Wednesday.
Aspinall converted eight of his nine attempts at double to deny the Polish number one a first title of the campaign on a thrilling day of action at the Barnsley Metrodome.
The former UK Open champion was featuring in his fourth Players Championship final of 2022, despite only competing in 16 events, and he delivered the goods to scoop the £12,000 top prize.
Following a comfortable hold in the opening leg, Aspinall seized control of the contest with successive 11 and 12-darters, and the 31-year-old maintained his relentless assault on the outer ring.
Aspinall pinned clinical 70 and 64 combinations to stretch his lead to 7-1, and although Ratajski reeled off back-to-back legs to prolong proceedings, the Stockport star sealed the deal with a two-dart 58 checkout.
“I’ve not played fantastically today, but I’ve dug deep and I’ve produced big legs and finishes that matter,” said Aspinall, celebrating his seventh PDC title.
“It feels good that I’ve won a tournament without playing my A-game at any stage.
“My Grandad has come today. He was there for my UK Open win and I’ve won a Pro Tour now, so I won’t be able to get rid of him, he’ll want to keep coming back!
“It’s been a torrid 12 months for me. I fell down the rankings, and I’m still in pain [from his injury] now, but I’m absolutely buzzing.
“I’m enjoying my darts again. When it’s so close to being taken away from you, it gives you so much motivation, and I want it so much.
Aspinall kicked off his campaign with a 6-5 win over Ian White, and after easing past Jamie Clark and Lewy Williams, he reeled off five consecutive legs to stun Dave Chisnall in the last 16.
The two-time TV title winner then accounted for Chisnall’s fellow St Helen’s star Stephen Bunting in the last eight, before recovering from 5-2 down to battle past Ryan Searle in a dramatic semi-final.
Ratajski, featuring in his first final of 2022, defeated Spanish duo Jose Justicia and Tony Martinez earlier in the afternoon, before surviving match darts in his comeback win over Florian Hempel.
The 45-year-old then produced a brilliant 104.87 average to deny world number one Gerwyn Price in the last 16, before dumping out Dimitri Van den Bergh and UK Open champion Danny Noppert to pocket the £8,000 runner-up prize.
There were a series of incredible performances produced in Barnsley, with Northern Irish star Josh Rock stealing the show in his second round clash against Brendan Dolan.
The 21-year-old posted an astonishing 121.88 average – the highest on the ProTour in 2022 – to complete a 6-1 victory over his compatriot, landing six 180s in the process.
Reigning World Champion Peter Wright succumbed with a 107.67 average in his first round tie against David Pallett, while Price and Chisnall bowed out in the last 16 with 105 averages apiece.
Searle, appearing in his fifth Pro Tour semi-final of the season, averaged 107.28 to dispatch top seed Luke Humphries in the quarter-finals, while World Matchplay semi-finalist Noppert continued his fine form to reach the last four.
Elsewhere, Jose De Sousa fired in a nine-darter in his second round win over Mervyn King, while Rusty-Jake Rodriguez achieved perfection in his deciding-leg defeat to Van den Bergh at the same stage.