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

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

Jamie Shaw in Players Championship Finals 29 Nov 2020
Michael Smith celebrates (Photo by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Michael Smith ended Jose De Sousa’s winning run in the Last 16 of the Players Championship Finals in Coventry on Saturday, as Peter Wright edged out Callan Rydz in a deciding leg.

De Sousa has claimed the Grand Slam title in fairy-tale fashion at the Ricoh Arena on Tuesday but saw his quest for back-to-back majors thwarted by Smith.

A high quality encounter saw both player produce seven maximums apiece and average above 100, but it was the world number four who prevailed to keep his hopes of a maiden major triumph alive.

With the scores tied at 7-7, Smith secured the crucial break of throw, taking out 61 on double nine to move in front, having trailed 6-3.

The former World Championship finalist then won the remaining two legs to gain revenge for his loss to De Sousa at the Grand Slam and move in to the quarter-finals.

“Mentally I feel better than I ever have,” admitted Smith.

“My scoring isn’t what it normally is but I know I can get that back, what really pleases me is how strong I feel in my own head at the moment.

“It’s not been meant to be yet for me but I believe in fate and I keep saying if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, and one day it will.

“I know it will happen, I just want to hurry up because it’s doing my head in because everyone else is getting one apart from me.”

Prior to defeating De Sousa, Smith defeated his former mentor Gary Anderson in round two, recovering from 4-1 down to defeat the 2014 champion – who was still suffering from a knee injury.

Smith will now face Peter Wright in Sunday’s Quarter-Finals after the World Champion came through a nervy last-leg decider to deny Callan Rydz – who was appearing in the Last 16 of a televised event for the first time.

Wright had moved 9-7 in front before Rydz produced a sensational 167 checkout to break throw, before landing double 18 to force a decider.

The Newcastle youngster, however, failed to threaten Wright’s throw and the world number two pressed home his experience to get over the line.

Wright was left dissatisfied with his performance, having averaged 102 in his 6-1 defeat of Simon Whitlock earlier in the day.

“I felt rubbish up there, I tried changing my darts and nothing was working, I’m a bit lucky to have won that,” said Wright.

“I can’t be as bad as that again tomorrow so everybody better watch out.”

Defending champion Michael van Gerwen will also be back in action on Sunday after he claimed a 6-4 win over Jonny Clayton and a 10-7 victory over Jeffrey de Zwaan.

The world number one again averaged over 100 and hit 50% of his double attempts in the Third Round tie with fellow Dutchman De Zwaan.

Van Gerwen raced in to an 8-3 lead against De Zwaan but gave his opponent hope as he lost four of the next five legs to lead by just two.

The three-time World Champion did eventually get over the winning line but was disappointed with his slip in concentration.

“At 8-3 I made a big mistake and started to play really bad, which is annoying,” said Van Gerwen.

“This is a big tournament and I have to give 100% and not make any mistakes if I am going to win.”

World Grand Prix finalist Dirk van Duijvenbode dropped just two legs across a ruthless day’s work in thrashing Niels Zonnerveld 6-1 and Luke Woodhouse 10-1.

The afternoon session saw Damon Heta and Ross Smith make it through to the Last 16 by beating Ryan Murray and Nathan Aspinall respectively before the two took to the stage for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

Heta broke throw in the tenth leg, checking out 84 on the bullseye to move 6-4 ahead before going on to lead 9-5.

Smith attempted to produce a comeback, but ultimately it wasn’t enough as Heta ran out a 10-7 victor.

The Australian will now face a resurgent Mervyn King, who has gone about his business in classy fashion so far this weekend, first beating Danny Noppert 6-1 before registering a 10-5 victory over Czech ace Karel Sedlacek.

“The Winter Series took it out of me a bit and I needed that last day off just to recharge my batteries,” said King.

“That did me the world of good and a couple of changes to my darts and all of a sudden I’m feeling a lot better.”

Gerwyn Price completed another successful day after he overcame Jamie Hughes 6-2 with an average just shy of 100, before grinding out a 10-6 win over Luke Humphries to reach the final day.

Humphries had been involved in arguably the game of the day in the afternoon session as he overcame Jermaine Wattimena 6-4, with both players averaging over 107.

The clash with World Cup winner Price was a tamer affair however, with both men struggling to find their top form.

“I am here to win and will always do my best, I will never throw in the towel but for whatever reason I was struggling tonight,” Price revealed.

“It has been a very long few months and it is starting to catch up with me, but if I can take another trophy in to the two-week break before the Worlds I will be very happy.”

Price will take on Joe Cullen in the Last Eight after he overcame Rob Cross and then Ian White.

Cullen needed a last-leg decider in his Second Round game with Cross but after surviving two match darts he kept his composure to finish 83 in two darts.

The Last 16 victory over White was a far more impressive performance, with Cullen averaging the best part of 100 in his 10-8 win.

Sunday’s final day of Players Championship Finals action will be centred on the main stage, with the Quarter-Finals in the afternoon session followed by the Semi-Finals and final in the evening.

The PDC World Youth Championship final between Bradley Brooks and Joe Davis will be played between the second Semi-Final and final.

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

Players Championship Finals 2020 Results

Saturday November 28

Second Round

Afternoon Session

Main Stage
Ian White 6-3 Gabriel Clemens
Nathan Aspinall 3-6 Ross Smith
Michael Smith 6-4 Gary Anderson
Joe Cullen 6-5 Rob Cross
Jose De Sousa 6-5 Vincent Van der Voort
Michael Van Gerwen 6-4 Jonny Clayton
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Jamie Hughes
Peter Wright 6-1 Simon Whitlock

Stage Two
Luke Woodhouse 6-4 Andy Boulton
Karel Sedlacek 6-5 Madars Razma
Ryan Searle 4-6 Callan Rydz
Damon Heta 6-5 Ryan Murray
Danny Noppert 1-6 Mervyn King
Jermaine Wattimena 4-6 Luke Humphries
Wayne Jones 4-6 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Niels Zonneveld 1-6 Dirk van Duijvenbode

Last 16

Evening Session

Main Stage
Michael Smith 10-7 Jose de Sousa
Gerwyn Price 10-6 Luke Humphries
Peter Wright 10-9 Callan Rydz
Michael Van Gerwen 10-7 Jeffrey de Zwaan

Stage Two
Joe Cullen 10-8 Ian White
Damon Heta 10-7 Ross Smith
Mervyn King 10-5 Karel Sedlacek
Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-1 Luke Woodhouse