Wright’s wonderland at PDC Winter Series as world champion narrowly denies De Sousa
Peter Wright secured his sixth title of the season on Day Four of the PDC Winter Series as the reigning world champion denied Jose de Sousa on Friday evening.
Following the successes of Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price in the early days at the Ricoh Arena, the world number two joined the winners’ enclosure after a scintillating string of performances.
Wright received a bye to the second round following the withdrawals of Thursday’s winner Price, Gary Anderson and James Wade, thrashing Robert Thornton 6-1 with an average in excess of the 106 mark.
The Scotsman continued to record astronomical numbers and dominate opponents as he averaged 108.8 in beating Steve Lennon and emphatically defeated Ricky Evans, both to a heavy 6-1 scoreline.
Both Tuesday’s runner-up Jermaine Wattimena and Joe Cullen were swept aside by Wright as he booked his place in the final, with missed doubles proving costly for both.
It was yet another closely contested finale at the inaugural Winter Series, with Wright narrowly edging past Portuguese sensation De Sousa in a fantastic final.
De Sousa drew first blood in the final with a break of throw, only to miss two darts at double in the subsequent leg, handing the world champion a chance at a 81 outshot.
Wright converted the combination shot in three darts to level the scores at one-all, prior to firing home his second maximum en route to gaining the advantage for the first time.
Nevertheless, the Portuguese sensation pinned two 180s in successive legs to lead once again, but Wright broke back to restore parity at three apiece.
The next three legs went with throw, before three-time ranking event winner De Sousa spurned a dart at double to allow Wright to steal the darts and move 6-4 in front.
Despite subsequently failing 7-4 behind and on the cusp of elimination at the final hurdle, De Sousa failed to resist the pressure piled on his shoulders.
‘The Special One’ produced a spectacular comeback, winning three legs in succession and pinning doubles last dart in hand to force a deserved deciders.
It wasn’t to be for Madrid-based De Sousa at the culmination of a thrilling finale, with Wright registering his seventh maximum during a scintillating 11-darter to secure his sixth title of the season.
As for De Sousa, he was beaten in the final for the second time at the Winter Series, with deciding legs proving his nemesis at the final hurdles in Coventry.
The 46-year-old continued to impress ahead of his Grand Slam of Darts debut, overcoming the likes of Andy Boulton, Brendan Dolan, Jonny Clayton and Adrian Lewis with averages either above the 100 mark or marginally below.
Meanwhile, two-time world champion Lewis finally received the results his recent form deserved as the Stoke-on-Trent man embarked on a run to the semi-finals.
Lewis ousted Michael van Gerwen in the third round, upon the world number one’s return to the scene following a brief period away due to an ongoing back injury.
Fast-throwing Dutchman Wattimena remains on course to qualify for the Grand Slam of Darts via the Winter Series Order of Merit after creating a gap between himself and the chasing pack.
Dolan, Vincent van der Voort and Poland’s Krzysztof Kciuk are his closest challengers, though, almost anyone could stake their claim with an unexpected title in Coventry.
The PDC Winter Series reaches its conclusion on Saturday afternoon as Day Five takes place, with Van Gerwen, Price and Wright all competing together for the first time this week.
PDC WINTER SERIES DAY FOUR
Players Championship 23
Friday November 13
Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Ryan Searle
Ryan Murray 6-5 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Jose De Sousa 6-3 Brendan Dolan
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Michael Smith
Peter Wright 6-1 Ricky Evans
Jermaine Wattimena 6-3 Krzysztof Kciuk
Damon Heta 6-3 Nathan Aspinall
Joe Cullen 6-5 Stevenson
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Ryan Murray
Jose De Sousa 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Joe Cullen 6-2 Damon Heta
Jose De Sousa 7-5 Adrian Lewis
Peter Wright 7-1 Joe Cullen
Peter Wright 8-7 Jose De Sousa
(Featured Image: Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe)