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Damon Heta wins Players Championship 4 as Luke Littler crashes out in first round

Damon Heta claimed the Players Championship Four title in Leicester after defeating Chris Dobey 8-4 in the final.

But there was a surprise in the opening round as Littler suffered a rare disappointing day as he was beaten 6-5 by James Wade.

Littler won his debut event in the Players Championship in Wigan last week before a second-round exit and a quarter-final loss in events 2 and 3.

In the final, Heta recovered from 3-0 down to stun Dobey in a high-quality match at the Mattioli Arena, reeling off seven consecutive legs – including four straight 12-dart legs – on his way to victory.

The Australian number one also landed a quartet of ton-plus finishes to pocket the £15,000 top prize, defying a 106.44 average from Dobey to capture his sixth Players Championship title.

Dobey raced into an early 3-0 lead with legs of 12, 16 and 13 darts, but Heta opened his account in leg four, courtesy of a 13-darter of his own.

Former Masters champion Dobey then paid the price for missing four darts for a 4-1 lead, and his woes were compounded when Heta converted 113, 121 and 130 checkouts in successive legs to lead 5-3.

The 36-year-old continued his finishing clinic with a brilliant double-double 92 finish on the 18s, and Dobey could only laugh in disbelief when Heta fired in a brilliant 121 on the bull to move 7-3 ahead.

Dobey delivered a bullseye finish of his own to keep his slender hopes alive in leg 11, although Heta wrapped up proceedings moments later, pinning double four to clinch his seventh PDC ranking title.

“I really battled today,” reflected Heta, who averaged 103.37 to become the fourth different winner in as many Players Championship events in 2024.

“I had no consistency in my game today until that final, where I went: ‘Do you know what, you’ve done everything well today, just relax, trebles should be flowing, don’t try so hard, it should just happen.’

“I was really confident. I felt a relief off my shoulders before going for those big checkouts, and it just happened, so happy days!”

Heta reached a trio of televised ranking quarter-finals in 2023, and he’s confident of making further progress over the next 12 months as he bids to establish himself in the world’s top ten.

“I’ve already set my goals [for 2024]. I have them written down, but I don’t want to say too much,” added the former World Cup winner.

“I have been playing pretty well, and I’m bringing that form to the bigger stages now, so I feel really good.

“I’m putting in a lot of hard work behind the scenes, and I’ve got to believe that and trust that.

“I’m fully focused. I have big goals and I’m doing everything right to try and achieve them, so hopefully it all pans out.”

Heta defeated Aden Kirk, Oskar Lukasiak and Luke Woodhouse to advance to the last 16, where he registered a ton-plus average on his way to a 6-1 demolition of Jim Williams.

The Australian then accounted for Brendan Dolan in the quarter-finals, before demolishing Christian Perez 7-2 in the last four, winning seven of the last eight legs to triumph.

Dobey had recovered from 4-3 down to claim a deciding-leg victory against Darryl Pilgrim in his opener, before sweeping aside Callan Rydz with a ton-topping average in a battle of the Bedlington darters.

The 33-year-old continued his charge with wins over Dutch trio Michael van Gerwen, Niels Zonneveld and Dirk van Duijvenbode, whitewashing Van Gerwen in a remarkable third round tie.

Dobey then held his nerve to edge out Peter Wright in a hard-fought semi-final showdown, producing a nerveless dart at double ten to win through a last-leg shoot-out.

Wright continued his resurgent run with a second semi-final appearance on the ProTour in 2024, breezing past top seed Dave Chisnall before nailing a 114 finish to deny Scott Williams in the last eight.

Perez, meanwhile, made history with his run to the last four, claiming a host of major scalps to become the first Filipino to progress to the semi-finals of a Players Championship event.

The former PDC Asian Champion overcame German duo Martin Schindler and Ricardo Pietreczko, and dumped out former World Champions Gerwyn Price and Raymond van Barneveld to pocket £5,000 in prize money.

Van Barneveld progressed to his second ProTour quarter-final in the space of three events to continue his strong start to 2024, where he was joined by his resurgent compatriot Van Duijvenbode.

Van Duijvenbode averaged 105 and 106 in wins over Daniel Klose and Gian van Veen respectively, as he advanced to his first ranking quarter-final since September.

Dolan produced a trio of 102 averages in reaching the last eight, defying a 109 average from Players Championship Three winner Ryan Searle in an astonishing last 16 clash.

World Championship semi-finalist Williams made up the quarter-final line-up in Leicester, fending off a 105 average from Gary Anderson in round one, before edging out Jonny Clayton in the last 16.


2024 Players Championship 4 results

Last 16

Peter Wright 6-2 Dave Chisnall
Scott Williams 6-5 Jonny Clayton
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-4 Gian van Veen
Chris Dobey 6-2 Niels Zonneveld
Christian Perez 6-4 Gerwyn Price
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Florian Hempel
Damon Heta 6-1 Jim Williams
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Ryan Searle

Quarter-finals

Peter Wright 6-5 Scott Williams
Chris Dobey 6-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Christian Perez 6-2 Raymond van Barneveld
Damon Heta 6-3 Brendan Dolan

Semi-finals

Chris Dobey 7-6 Peter Wright
Damon Heta 7-2 Christian Perez

Final

Damon Heta 8-4 Chris Dobey

 

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