Players Championship events 7 and 8: Littler goes for an early bath twice

Published on 10 April 2024 at 20:00

'The Nuke' uncharacteristically didn't cover himself in glory at either event in Leicester, losing to both Ross Smith and Kevin Doets in early rounds. With darts' golden boy out, it was a chance for some other players to shine. In a tournament that was nine-darters galore, it was 'Hollywood' Chris Dobey who reigned supreme on Monday. Danny Noppert then made it eight different winners from eight events in this year's Players Championship, maintaining his record of never being beaten in a Pro Tour final.



Players Championship 7

There were early signs that it was going to be Chris Dobey's day in Leicester, as in the second round he looked to be down and out in a deciding leg with Mike de Decker but somehow managed to hit a 170 'big fish' finish from absolutely nowhere. 'Hollywood' then lived up to his name in the following round, as he hit a nine-darter against Mickey Mansell. However, following these crazy early rounds, the Geordie had a relatively comfortable afternoon, defeating Kim Huybrechts, Daryl Gurney and Ross Smith on his way to the final.


In the final itself Dobey faced Josh Rock, who looked to be emulating some of his form from 2022, when the young Ulsterman burst onto the scene. Rock started the final the strongest with an early break, but wasn't able to keep up with the consistency of Dobey, who eventually closed out the match, 8-4.


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Dobey wasn't the only one in the tournament to hit a nine, as Steve Beaton rolled back the years against James Hurrell in round one, throwing the fourth perfect leg of his long career. Daryl Gurney also had nine-dart fever as he recorded one in the second round against Sweden's Jeffrey de Graaf.


A special mention has to go to Thibault Tricole, who continues to make his way up the rankings after an impressive showing in last year's World Cup. Tricole became the first Frenchman to ever reach the quarter finals of a senior PDC ranking event.


As for the big guns, it was good news for the rest of the field as Luke Humphries and Luke Littler were drawn against each other in round three. In a match that went to the wire it was eventually 'The Nuke' who came out on top. Littler then found himself in another decider in the last 16, however this time fell short against Ross Smith.




Players Championship 8

Danny Noppert hasn't had the greatest of starts to 2024, but looked back to his best in Leicester this week, beating two World Champs on his way to glory. The first of which was Gerwyn Price, who looked out of sorts against a rampant Noppert. 'The Freeze' then dispatched Kevin Doets and Radek Szaganski on his way to the final.


In the final he would face Luke Humphries, who was also looking for his first win of this year's Player Championship. When the World Champ broke first in the early stages of the match, Noppert had a huge task on his hands. However, the Dutchman showed good spirit and managed to draw level at 6-6. All 'The Freeze' had to do now was keep his cool and hold his throw to win the game, however he managed to go one better and break Humphries in the final leg, winning 8-6.


Read more: 2024 German Darts Grand Prix - Luke Humphries marvellous in Munich triumph


It was a tournament of upsets in the eighth edition of the Players Championship which may have helped Noppert on his way to victory. His countryman, Kevin Doets impressively won his decider against Luke Littler in round three and world number 106, Radak Szaganski, put out Andrew Gilding on his way to the semi-finals.


Another Dutchman, Gian van Veen showed he has what it takes to play at the highest level as well. The 21 year old had a superb run to the semi-finals, only to get pipped by Humphries in a last leg decider.


But enough about these novices, the real giant killer of the day award can go to none other than Stefan Belmont, who like Noppert, defeated two former World Champions on an incredible run to the quarter finals. 'Belli' sits 108 places in the rankings behind Michael Smith and 105 behind Rob Cross, but neither 'Bully Boy' nor 'Voltage' were able to lay a glove on the Swiss superstar.



Image reference


Ally Gordon

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