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Michael van Gerwen issues response following Jonathan Worsley altercation

Cullen doubles his title tally for 2020 with PDC Winter Series success

Jamie Shaw in PDC Winter Series 14 Nov 2020
Joe Cullen celebrates (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Joe Cullen claimed his second PDC ranking title of the season at Players Championship 23 in Coventry, defeating Krzysztof Ratajski 8-4 in the final.

Cullen had lost in two Semi-Finals earlier in the week, but went the distance on Day Five of the PDC Winter Series to scoop the £10,000 top prize at the Ricoh Arena.

International Open champion last month, Cullen continued his blistering run of form, averaging 105 in the final to deny Poland’s Ratajski his second ProTour title of the season.

Cullen, however, had to survive a major scare in the opening round as he pulled off a sensational comeback from 5-0 down to defeat Justin Pipe 6-5.

However, he did not look back from there on in, defeating Chris Dobey 6-3 and Niels Zonneveld 6-4 before whitewashing Croatia’s Boris Krcmar 6-0 in the Last 16.

Cullen then averaged 98 in a 6-5 win over Daryl Gurney, surviving two match darts in the deciding leg, before powering past Andy Boulton 7-3 in the Semi-Finals.

The first two legs of the final were shared before Ratajski took out 77 to move in front.

Two missed darts at doubles from the Pole in leg four allowed Cullen to level, and after the next two legs were shared, a key moment saw Cullen finish 87 for an 11-darter to break and lead 4-3.

Cullen then moved two clear at 5-3 and 6-4 before breaking throw again to go within a leg of victory – which he duly sealed with a 74 checkout in leg 12.

“I was 5-0 down in the First Round against Justin [Pipe] and I just thought, don’t give up,” said Cullen.

“You never expect to win from 5-0 down, never in a million years, but it wasn’t so much that Justin tailed off, I just played well.

“Luckily I got through that and I’ve only gone and won it!

“I get really nervous before the first game, on ProTours, not TV events, you feel vulnerable in the First Round.

“I’ve played brilliant there [in the final] but it’s the ones you battle through when you know you’re not playing well.

“I’ve felt like I’ve not played my best stuff this week but I’ve still got the results and that’s where I’ve been lacking.

“It’s the same with a lot of players, when you’re on top form you look a million dollars, but there was no in between game, and I feel like if I can get the in between game somewhere near, I can do some real damage.”

Ratajski’s run to the final saw him register three ton-plus averages, including a stunning 112.5 in a 6-2 Quarter-Final success over a resurgent Adrian Lewis.

Elsewhere, Kim Huybrechts and Boulton both reached a ProTour Semi-Finals for the first time in more than two years.

World number one Michael van Gerwen suffered a Second Round defeat at the hands of in-form youngster Callan Rydz – who averaged 100.7.

Having picked up titles in each the first two days, Michael Smith ends the PDC Winter Series Order of Merit on top, while Jermaine Wattimena qualifies for the BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts as the highest ranked non-qualified player.

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PDC Winter Series Day Five Results

Saturday November 14

First Round
Callan Rydz 6-3 John Michael
Ricky Evans 6-1 Simon Stevenson
Toni Alcinas 6-3 Luke Humphries
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Ryan Searle
Conan Whitehead 6-2 Scott Taylor
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Ted Evetts
Peter Jacques 6-4 Kai Fan Leung
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Michael Barnard
Keegan Brown 6-1 Krzysztof Kciuk
Ron Meulenkamp 6-5 Ross Smith
Christian Bunse 6-5 Martin Atkins
Devon Petersen 6-4 Matt Clark
Jan Dekker 6-5 Darren Penhall
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Ritchie Edhouse 6-5 David Pallett
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Jim Williams
Derk Telnekes 6-2 Maikel Verberk
Luke Woodhouse 6-2 Jeff Smith
Mickey Mansell 6-4 Aaron Beeney
Nick Kenny 6-5 Damon Heta
Ryan Meikle 6-5 Martin Schindler
Stephen Bunting 6-3 William Borland
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Robert Thornton
Michael Smith 6-3 Steve Beaton
Keane Barry 6-5 Matthew Dennant
Ryan Joyce 6-1 Gavin Carlin
Ryan Murray 6-0 Adrian Gray
Daniel Larsson 6-5 Glen Durrant
Darius Labanauskas 6-2 Carl Wilkinson
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-5 Jamie Hughes
Adam Hunt 6-0 Barrie Bates
Steve Brown 6-5 Max Hopp
William O’Connor 6-3 Benito van de Pas
Bradley Brooks 6-2 Richard North
Dave Chisnall 6-0 Marko Kantele
Steve Lennon 6-3 Mike De Decker
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Ciaran Teehan
David Evans 6-2 Richie Burnett
James Wade 6-4 Andy Hamilton
Andy Boulton 6-1 Alan Tabern
Jason Lowe 6-4 Madars Razma
Wayne Jones 6-4 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Ian White 6-5 Gary Blades
Lisa Ashton 6-3 John Henderson
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3 Scott Mitchell
Jelle Klaasen 6-4 Mark McGeeney
Karel Sedlacek 6-2 Scott Baker
Jesus Noguera 6-2 Maik Kuivenhoven
Josh Payne 6-5 Steve West
Brendan Dolan 6-2 Jitse Van der Wal
Kirk Shepherd 6-3 Kevin Doets
Daryl Gurney w/o Jonathan Worsley
Joe Murnan 6-5 Robert Collins
Joe Cullen 6-5 Justin Pipe
Chris Dobey 6-2 Reece Robinson
James Wilson 6-3 Martijn Kleermaker
Niels Zonneveld 6-4 Matthew Edgar
Danny Noppert 6-0 Yordi Meeuwisse
Boris Krcmar 6-3 Harald Leitinger
Jermaine Wattimena 6-2 Darren Webster
Scott Waites 6-2 Simon Whitlock

Second Round
Callan Rydz 6-4 Michael van Gerwen
Toni Alcinas 6-1 Ricky Evans
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Conan Whitehead
Peter Jacques 6-3 Gabriel Clemens
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Keegan Brown
Ron Meulenkamp 6-2 Christian Bunse
Devon Petersen 6-4 Jan Dekker
Ritchie Edhouse 6-5 Vincent van der Voort
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Derk Telnekes
Luke Woodhouse 6-3 Mickey Mansell
Ryan Meikle 6-3 Nick Kenny
Kim Huybrechts 6-4 Stephen Bunting
Michael Smith 6-4 Keane Barry
Ryan Joyce 6-3 Ryan Murray
Darius Labanauskas 6-5 Daniel Larsson
Adam Hunt 6-0 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Peter Wright 6-1 Steve Brown
William O’Connor 6-4 Bradley Brooks
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Steve Lennon
David Evans 6-5 Jonny Clayton
Andy Boulton 6-5 James Wade
Jason Lowe 6-4 Wayne Jones
Ian White 6-5 Lisa Ashton
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-5 Jelle Klaasen
Karel Sedlacek 6-5 Jose De Sousa
Jesus Noguera 6-1 Josh Payne
Brendan Dolan 6-1 Kirk Shepherd
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Joe Murnan
Joe Cullen 6-3 Chris Dobey
Niels Zonneveld 6-2 James Wilson
Boris Krcmar 6-5 Danny Noppert
Jermaine Wattimena 6-1 Scott Waites
Losers: £500

Last 32
Callan Rydz 6-3 Toni Alcinas
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Peter Jacques
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Ron Meulenkamp
Ritchie Edhouse 6-4 Devon Petersen
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Luke Woodhouse
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Ryan Meikle
Ryan Joyce 6-3 Michael Smith
Adam Hunt 6-4 Darius Labanauskas
Peter Wright 6-1 William O’Connor
Dave Chisnall 6-2 David Evans
Andy Boulton 6-5 Jason Lowe
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3 Ian White
Karel Sedlacek 6-4 Jesus Noguera
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Joe Cullen 6-4 Niels Zonneveld
Boris Krcmar 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Losers: £1,000

Last 16
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Callan Rydz
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Ritchie Edhouse
Kim Huybrechts 6-4 Nathan Aspinall
Ryan Joyce 6-2 Adam Hunt
Peter Wright 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Andy Boulton 6-5 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Daryl Gurney 6-1 Karel Sedlacek
Joe Cullen 6-0 Boris Krcmar
Losers: £1,500

Quarter-Finals
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Adrian Lewis
Kim Huybrechts 6-4 Ryan Joyce
Andy Boulton 6-5 Peter Wright
Joe Cullen 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Losers: £2,250

Semi-Finals
Krzysztof Ratajski 7-2 Kim Huybrechts
Joe Cullen 7-3 Andy Boulton
Losers: £3,000

Final
Joe Cullen 8-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
Winner: £10,000
Runner-up: £6,000