Peter Wright defeated Ryan Searle 11-10 in a thrilling final to win the 2021 Ladbrokes Players Championship in Minehead on Sunday.
Wright was left elated and relieved after claiming the title for the first time, having almost been made to pay for inexplicably busting a 129 checkout for what would have been an 11-9 win.
Crowd favourite Searle came back to force a deciding leg, before piling the pressure on Wright with a visit of 177 to leave 24 for the title.
However, Wright held his nerve with a match-winning 62 checkout, pinning double 16 with his last dart to pick up the last silverware before the World Championship and the £100,000 star prize.
“It’s the only final I’ve never played in, I enjoyed it,” said Wright.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game against Ryan; it’s taken a little while for him to settle and show what he can do on TV. He’s an immense player.”
“In the second half of the match I was going at Ryan’s pace and I was thinking ‘I’m running out of energy here’. I took a breather and lucky enough I got through.”
“The guys who normally do well in this tournament do okay in the next one so it’s nice to do well in this one.”
“Obviously, I’ve got to back my big mouth up because I said I’m going to win the Worlds, so I’ve got to get back on the practice board and make sure I’m sharp. I believe I will be World Champion come January 3.”
Earlier in the evening, Wright cruised past Jonny Clayton 11-6 in the semi-finals, having defeated six-time champion Michael van Gerwen 10-6 in the quarter-finals as the £500,000 tournament reached its climax with the final two sessions.
A breakthrough weekend for Searle saw the Devonian edge out Daryl Gurney 10-9 in one of the games of the weekend in the quarter-finals, before ending the charge of Brendan Dolan in the semi-finals.
Searle’s run to the final sees the 34-year-old move into the top 16 on the PDC Order of Merit for the first time.
Attention now turns to the 2021/22 World Championship, which begins on December 15 at London’s Alexandra Palace.
2021 Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals
Schedule of Play
Sunday November 28
Brendan Dolan 10-4 Jose de Sousa
Ryan Searle 10-9 Daryl Gurney
Peter Wright 10-6 Michael van Gerwen
Jonny Clayton 10-3 Vincent van der Voort
Ryan Searle 11-6 Brendan Dolan
Peter Wright 11-6 Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright 11-10 Ryan Searle