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Smith ends De Sousa’s winning run at the Players Championship Finals as Wright survives Rydz scare

Players Championship Finals 2020 Day Three preview and order of play: Final Eight battle for the title

Jamie Shaw in Players Championship Finals 29 Nov 2020
Wright and Smith face off (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

The final available silverware of 2020 is up for grabs on Sunday as the eight remaining hopefuls battle it out at the Players Championship Finals.

The season’s penultimate major draws to a close in Coventry with the world’s top four plus a further quartet of in-form challengers left in the running for glory.

Only one of the remaining eight has ever lifted this prestigious trophy and four are appearing at this stage of the competition for the first time.

Reigning and five-time champion Michael van Gerwen is the most successful player in the history of the Players Championship Finals and is looking to finally end his eight-month major title drought.

The world number one has not tasted televised success since the UK Open back in March but has shown real signs of a return to something like his top form in recent weeks.

Van Gerwen is now regularly registering ton-plus averages again and has brushed up on the finishing which proved his downfall against Simon Whitlock in the Quarter-Finals of last week’s Grand Slam.

The green machine averaged 103.3 and 100.6 in defeating Darius Labanauskas and Jonny Clayton 6-3 and 6-4 respectively, before dispatching compatriot Jeffrey de Zwaan 10-7 in the Last 16.

He now faces a player enjoying undoubtedly the best spell of his career so far – World Grand Prix finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode.

The world number 45 has dropped just six legs en route to the Quarter-Finals, defeating William O’Connor 6-4 with a 101 average before thrashing Niels Zonneveld 6-1 and Luke Woodhouse 10-1 to continue his charge.

The 28-year-old is appearing in his third major Quarter-Final of the season and is eyeing a first win over his Dutch nemesis in four attempts.

Another mouth-watering contest sees two of this season’s multiple ranking event winners collide as Gerwyn Price takes on Joe Cullen.

Despite admitting this weekend that he is “demotivated”, Price has remained on course for a fourth televised title of the year as he looks to go one better than his runner-up spot in this event 12 months ago.

The Welshman remains on a Semi-Final collision course with MVG, having so far seen off John Henderson, Jamie Hughes and Luke Humphries with a tournament average of 98.5.

Cullen, winner of the International Open and the final Winter Series event, has bounced back from last week’s Grand Slam heartbreak with a fine run to his first Quarter-Final in this event.

The world number 16 has dispatched Adam Hunt, Rob Cross and Ian White and is now targeting a first televised triumph over ‘The Ice Man’ since his 10-3 rout in the 2018 World Matchplay.

A repeat of January’s Masters final sees world number two Peter Wright take on world number four Michael Smith.

Wright triumphed 11-10 on that occasion after Smith had missed three match darts, and ‘Bully Boy’s’ wait for an elusive maiden major has stretched on for another ten months.

Smith finds himself at this stage of the competition for the first time, having battled back from behind in all three of his matches so far to defeat Boris Krcmar, Gary Anderson and Jose De Sousa with consecutive ton-plus averages.

Wright, meanwhile, survived a scare from emerging star Callan Rydz in the Last 16, edging over the line in a 19th leg decider, having previously defeated Ryan Meikle 6-5 and Simon Whitlock 6-1 with successive ton-plus averages.

The reigning World Champion is aiming to warm up for his title defence at Ally Pally next month in the best possible fashion by claiming his fourth major ranking title.

The opening match of the afternoon sees two of this weekend’s dark horses go head-to-head as Mervyn King takes on Damon Heta.

Both players have flown largely under the radar on Stage Two so far but now collide on the Main Stage for the right to face either Wright or Smith in the evening.

King was runner-up in this event a decade ago at the Circus Tavern and has rolled back the years with some vintage performances, averaging 105 in a 6-3 win over Dave Chisnall before thrashing Danny Noppert 6-1 and comfortably defeating Karel Sedlacek 10-5.

Heta is appearing in his second televised Quarter-Final in the space of a week following his superb run at the Grand Slam which was eventually ended by James Wade.

The 2019 Brisbane Masters champion continues to go from strength to strength in his debut season on the PDC circuit and will be ranked at least 56th come the end of the day, with the potential to climb a further 20 places if he were to lift the trophy.

The unflappable Aussie has won all three of his matches so far on Stage Two, easing past Maik Kuivenhoven 6-1 before surviving two match darts against Ryan Murray in a decider and going on to defeat Ross Smith 10-7.

The final will be preceded by the 2020 World Youth Championship final between Blackburn’s Bradley Brooks and Brighton’s Joe Davis for the £10,000 top prize and a place in the World Darts Championship.

The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with Quarter-Final matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs and the Semi-Finals and Final best of 21 legs.

WATCH THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Players Championship Finals 2020 Schedule

Sunday November 29

Afternoon Session (12.45pm-5pm)

Quarter-Finals
Damon Heta v Mervyn King
Peter Wright v Michael Smith
Gerwyn Price v Joe Cullen
Michael Van Gerwen v Dirk van Duijvenbode

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)

Semi-Finals
Wright/Smith v Heta/King
Price/Cullen v Van Gerwen/Van Duijvenbode

Final

PDC World Youth Championship Final
Joe Davis v Bradley Brooks
[Best of 11 legs]