Cullen crowned Day Five champion overcoming Ratajski as PDC Winter Series reaches conclusion
Joe Cullen was crowned the Day Five champion after overcoming Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski as the inaugural PDC Winter Series reached its conclusion in Coventry.
Cullen brought to an end the common theme of top four players reigning victorious at the Ricoh Arena, joining table-topper Michael Smith, Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright in the winners’ enclosure.
It was far from an ideal start to proceedings for Cullen as he fell on the brink of the elimination at the first hurdle, with multiple-time major quarter-finalist Justin Pipe leading 5-0.
However, the eventual champion reeled off six legs in succession to prevail, surviving a number of match darts in the process, before defeating Chris Dobey and Dutchman Niels Zonneveld.
Croatian number one Boris Krcmar was subsequently swept aside by Cullen in the fourth round as the Bradford man sealed his place in the quarter-finals – where he would meet Daryl Gurney in a mouth-watering encounter.
Cullen would survive match darts once again as two-time major champion Gurney spurned two attempts at double six to gift the recent International Darts Open winner a place in the last four.
There, the 34-year-old relatively comfortably denied Andy Boulton, who was making his third ProTour semi-final appearance, prior to averaging over 105 in seeing off Ratajski in the final.
With Ratajski leading 2-1 in the opening stages, the reigning Gibraltar Darts Trophy champion missed opportunities to break throw, allowing Cullen to level up.
A break of throw soon followed for Cullen to go 5-3 in front, a lead which the Yorkshireman pressed home for the remainder of the match.
Despite being grounded at the final hurdle, it was an afternoon of sensational efforts for ‘The Polish Eagle’ as he swooped into his eleventh ranking final in the professional ranks.
After four days of disappointing early departures, Ratajski made up for lost ground with wins over Michael Barnard, Keegan Brown, Ron Meulenkamp and Ritchie Edhouse to reach the quarter-finals.
The Pole was then involved in a thrilling affair with two-time world champion Adrian Lewis, recording a blistering 112.5 average in a 6-2 victory, before denying Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts.
Elsewhere, beaten semi-finalist Boulton ended the hopes of back-to-back titles for reigning world champion Peter Wright in the last eight, while two-time Winter Series event winner Michael Smith exited in round three at the hands of Ryan Joyce.
Michael van Gerwen, who was earlier involved in an altercation with Welshman Jonathan Worsley, suffered a disappointing second round exit after receiving a bye following four withdrawals.
Callan Rydz ousted the world number one as the Bedlington youngster registered four maximums and an average in excess of the 100 mark in a monumental scalp.
Tuesday’s finalist Jermaine Wattimena secured his place at the upcoming Grand Slam of Darts by virtue of finishing as the highest ranked player not already qualified in the Winter Series Order of Merit.
The fast-throwing Dutchman was downed in the third round by Croatia’s Krcmar, though, later semi-final defeats for Huybrechts and Boulton meant that he had done enough.
Saturday afternoon marked the culture a another splendid ProTour season, with a truncation circuit being conducted despite a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
2020 PDC WINTER SERIES DAY FIVE
Players Championship 23
Saturday November 14
Ricoh Arena, Coventry
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
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Adrian Lewis
Kim Huybrechts 6-4 Ryan Joyce
Andy Boulton 6-5 Peter Wright
Joe Cullen 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Krzysztof Ratajski 7-2 Kim Huybrechts
Joe Cullen 7-3 Andy Boulton
Joe Cullen 8-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
(Featured Image: PDC Europe)