Dirk van Duijvenbode demolishes Ryan Searle to win Players Championship 6 final
An imperious Dirk van Duijvenbode clinched his second ProTour title of 2023 with a superb 8-4 victory against Ryan Searle in Sunday's Players Championship 6 final at the Barnsley Metrodome.
Van Duijvenbode defeated Searle to triumph at Players Championship 4 last month, and the Dutchman enjoyed a repeat performance to become the first player to celebrate multiple ProTour titles this year.
The 30-year-old relinquished just five legs in reaching the semi-finals, before overcoming top seed Luke Humphries and Searle to scoop the £12,000 top prize and move top of the Players Championship Order of Merit.
Van Duijvenbode made a sensational start to Sunday's showpiece, converting magnificent 142 and 148 checkouts to seize the early initiative, before Searle reeled off three straight legs to lead 4-3.
However, Van Duijvenbode responded by winning five straight legs of his own to wrap up a resounding victory, firing in six 180s and producing back-to-back 12-dart legs to seal the deal.
"I would say this is the second best title of my career," reflected Van Duijvenbode, who boasted a tournament average of 102 en route to scooping his fifth PDC ranking title.
"I'm working with a great team. This is the first weekend for about 18 months where I haven't had an injury, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am.
"Ryan is one of the nicest players on the tour. He is such a good player. He's very good, and I am always happy if I beat him, but it is never easy.
"My goal is to win three titles this year and I'm already on two after six [Players Championship] events, so hopefully I will make the third as well!"
Van Duijvenbode stormed through to his second ProTour final of the season with a string of dominant displays, opening Sunday's action with a trio of 6-1 victories.
He brushed aside Kevin Burness and Ronny Huybrechts before posting a career-best 115.7 average in his demolition of Cameron Crabtree, landing six 180s and converting 140 and 128 finishes in the process.
The three-time TV finalist maintained his imperious form with a whitewash win over Ian White in the last 16, and an emphatic 6-2 success against his compatriot Michael van Gerwen confirmed his semi-final spot.
Van Duijvenbode then edged out Humphries in a captivating deciding-leg tussle in the last four, missing double 12 for a nine-darter, only to prevail with a 105 average and eight maximums.
Meanwhile, Searle - appearing in his third Players Championship final this term - kicked off his campaign by averaging over 100 in a whitewash win against Jimmy Hendriks.
The Somerset star overcame his practice partner and Saturday's runner-up Gary Anderson in round two, before continuing his charge with convincing wins against Ricardo Pietreczko and Matt Campbell.
Searle completed a dramatic comeback win over Dave Chisnall to progress to the semi-finals, where he reeled off six straight legs in 15, 12, 15, 13, 13 and 11 darts to dispatch Mike De Decker 7-2 with a 107 average.
De Decker dumped out seeded stars Stephen Bunting and Josh Rock to reach his second ProTour semi-final, in a run which also featured victories over Niels Zonneveld, Jacques Labre and Gian van Veen.
Humphries continued his consistent start to the campaign with another semi-final showing, averaging 105 and 108 in wins over Northern Irish duo Mickey Mansell and Daryl Gurney respectively.
The world number six also defied a 106 average from Saturday's champion Ross Smith in the quarter-finals, avenging his defeat to the European Champion in yesterday's third round.
Smith capped off a fine weekend with wins over Simon Whitlock and Nathan Aspinall in reaching the last eight, where he was joined by current Premier League table-topper Michael van Gerwen.
The three-time World Champion enjoyed his best run on the ProTour in 2023, with his compatriot Van Veen and second seed Chisnall also bowing out at the quarter-final stage.
Earlier in the day, Saturday's semi-finalist Gerwyn Price suffered a surprise first round defeat to Jose Justicia, despite averaging almost 101 in a high-quality affair.
Anderson and Rob Cross were among the high-profile second round casualties, with World Champion Michael Smith crashing out in round three alongside Aspinall and Jonny Clayton.
The PDC ProTour action continues in Hildesheim next weekend, with Players Championships 7-8 taking place at the Halle 39 from March 19-20.