Jonny Clayton pulled off a sensational debut triumph to be crowned 2021 Premier League champion after victory over Jose De…
Jonny Clayton pulled off a sensational debut triumph to be crowned 2021 Premier League champion after victory over Jose De Sousa in the final.
Four months on from his maiden televised singles title at The Masters which earned him a Premier League spot, Clayton enjoyed another unforgetable success as he scooped the sport’s most prestigious invitational trophy.
The Welshman, who had edged fourth spot in the table, began the night by defeating Michael van Gerwen 10-8 in the Semi-Finals before dismantling De Sousa 11-5 in the final to clinch the £250,000 top prize.
Clayton becomes only the seventh different player to win the Premier League since it began back in 2005 and is the first Welsh winner.
“I’ve put Wales on the map again and it’s just so incredible to be here and win this event,” said an emotional Clayton.
“We’re so lucky to have been playing over what has been such a difficult time for everyone.
“Jose is such a great player and I just tried to keep my cool and get over the line, I’m just so happy.
“To be a name in the Premier League is fantastic but to win it is a dream come true.”
Clayton had snatched the fourth Play-Off place 24 hours earlier with victory over Dimitri van den Bergh and seemingly picked up from where he left off as he ended Van Gerwen’s hopes of a record-equalling sixth title.
The Ferret averaged 103.2 and converted 62.5 per cent of his double attempts as he came from 7-6 down to defeat the Dutchman 10-8.
The final was contested by two Premier League debutants for a second successive year as Clayton faced De Sousa – who had defeated Nathan Aspinall in a last-leg decider in the second Semi-Final.
Clayton took the early initiative, finishing 121 on the bull before breaking the De Sousa throw and consolidating with a hold to take a 3-1 lead.
The pair then traded legs before Clayton was able to break again in the seventh leg to move 5-2 in front with a 13-darter.
That seemingly inspired the Portuguese star, who regained one of the breaks immediately after a ten-dart leg to grab himself a lifeline.
With the score at 6-4, Grand Slam champion De Sousa missed four darts at a double to close the gap to one before Clayton took his opportunity and pinned double 12 to edge ever-closer to glory.
De Sousa broke back immediately as he reduced the deficit to 7-5 but time was running out for the 47-year-old and Clayton strung together a run of four consecutive legs to storm over the line.
De Sousa had finished second in the league table and held his nerve to edge past Aspinall 10-9 with a 98.2 average and eight 180s – taking his tally for the tournament to a record-breaking 96.
“I proved again that I am ‘The Special One’,” said De Sousa. “This crowd is so amazing and I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported us.
“It was a tough final and well done to Jonny for becoming the champion, he deserves this.
“To make the final is insane, this shows to everyone that I am one of the best players in the world and I hope to be back in the Premier League next year.”
Earlier in the night, Masters champion Clayton ended Van Gerwen’s hopes of winning a sixth Premier League title with a pulsating 10-8 semi-final victory, averaging 103 and coming from 8-7 down to book a spot in the final.
Van Gerwen had finished top of the table for an eighth time in nine years, but admitted that defeat for the first time in a Premier League Semi-Final was a huge blow.
“I have to take this on the chin,” he told RTL7. “I’m on my way back now but there’s still hard work to do.
“Jonny played really great. I wasn’t consistent enough, he punished me at the right moments. I shouldn’t have put him in that position – I gave him the confidence and a great feeling.”
Premier League Darts 2021 Results
Play-Offs – Friday May 28
Michael van Gerwen 8-10 Jonny Clayton
Jose De Sousa 10-9 Nathan Aspinall
Jonny Clayton 11-5 Jose De Sousa