KRZYSZTOF RATAJSKI picked up his second PDC title of 2018 with a brilliant 6-2 comeback defeat of Chris Dobey in Saturday’s Players Championship 21 in Barnsley.
The Polish ace won a Coral UK Open Qualifier in February despite not holding a PDC Tour Card and capitalised on his chance to compete in Barnsley to scoop another £10,000 title.
The former World Masters winner had only competed in two other Players Championship events this year, without winning any prize money, but has put himself in line to qualify for the Players Championship Finals with Saturday’s success.
Dobey had raced into a 2-0 lead in their final with legs of 14 and 11 darts, but Ratajski responded in brilliant fashion as he kick-started his challenge with an 11-darter of his own.
He levelled on double ten in leg four and then broke throw in 14 darts to move ahead, and landed another 11-darter as he made it six successive legs in taking the title.
Ratajski began his route to the final with wins over Madars Ramza, Kirk Shepherd, James Wilson and Cameron Menzies, before seeing off William O’Connor in the quarter-finals.
He then came from 5-1 down to overcome Steve Beaton in the semi-finals, as the former Lakeside Champion paid the price for missing match darts before losing out in a decider.
Also a PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour winner this year, Ratajski’s success is another step towards him securing his PDC Tour Card for 2019.
“I don’t believe it, really!” said the 41-year-old. “It’s something impossible for me because I think it gives me a Tour Card for next year. I’m not sure, I hope so.
“There is a really good level of players [on the Challenge Tour] and I’m sure it’s helped me.”
Dobey was taken to a deciding leg in three of his first four matches, against John Norman Jnr, Bradley Brooks and John Henderson, before overcoming Stephen Bunting and Martin Schindler to reach the final.
Beaton had played some fine darts on his way to a third Players Championship semi-final of the year – including fine wins over Nathan Aspinall, Terry Jenkins and Ricky Evans – only to see his hopes of glory slip away against Ratajski.
German youngster Schindler fell one game short of reaching his first Players Championship final, losing in the last four for the second time in 2018.
World number six Mensur Suljovic, former Lakeside Champion Stephen Bunting, Dutch Darts Championship runner-up Ricky Evans and Irish star William O’Connor all won through to the quarter-finals on Saturday.
The event also saw a nine-dart finish from Andrew Gilding, who achieved a perfect leg during his first-round win over Mark Dudbridge.
Sunday sees the year’s final Players Championship tournament take place in Barnsley, as players compete for £75,000 in prize money and spots in the Players Championship Finals and William Hill World Darts Championship.
Players Championship 22 will be broadcast live from 1200 BST for PDCTV-HD Subscribers via www.pdc.tv.
Players Championship 21
Saturda,y October 20, Barnsley Metrodome
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Cameron Menzies
William O’Connor 6-1 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Ricky Evans 6-3 Stephen Burton
Steve Beaton 6-2 Terry Jenkins
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Michael Smith
Chris Dobey 6-5 John Henderson
Mensur Suljovic 6-1 Vincent van der Voort
Martin Schindler 6-3 Adam Hunt
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-4 William O’Connor
Steve Beaton 6-5 Ricky Evans
Chris Dobey 6-2 Stephen Bunting
Martin Schindler 6-4 Mensur Suljovic
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Steve Beaton
Chris Dobey 6-4 Martin Schindler
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Chris Dobey