Brendan Dolan removed any doubt regarding his place in this year's World Matchplay, by putting on a dazzling showing in Barnsley to scoop his first title of 2022 and ninth of his career.
The Northern Irishman continued his impressive record of reaching at least one ranking final each year since 2019, and he capitalised with a strong performance against world No.8 Jonny Clayton in the final.
Dolan's day began with a 6-0 whitewash of Nick Fullwell before he came through last-leg deciders against Ian White, Joe Murnan and Danny Noppert.
Victories over Keegan Brown and Damon Heta in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively took the 48-year-old to the final, where he denied Clayton a first title of the year.
With the final level at 3-3, Dolan reeled off the next three legs to take a commanding 6-3 lead.
Clayton replied with a 138 checkout to break throw, which he backed up with an 81 finish to hold and move within a leg at 6-5.
Dolan, though, resisted the Welshman's fightback with a 13-dart hold and then sealed the £12,000 prize with a 102 checkout.
Despite having not won a single game in the previous three Players Championships, Dolan went all the way during Monday's play, and was relieved to have finally secured his World Matchplay spot.
"Everyone was telling me I was a dead cert to qualify [for the World Matchplay] but I knew that I wasn't mathematically in," Dolan admitted.
"So that was on my mind, maybe I was thinking too much about qualifying for that and the World Grand Prix which was why I couldn't win a game the last three days.
"I've had a really bad year, to be fair. I've possibly put myself under too much pressure and not even been able to qualify for European Tours.
"Today I just wanted to win one game. I never felt like I was playing well enough to win it, I got lucky today at times.
"There were moments of good darts but there wasn't enough consistency so I'm not going to get too excited about this win. But, in the context of my year, this is massive."
Chris Dobey, Madars Razma and Rowby-John Rodriguez also made sure of qualification for the World Matchplay at Players Championship 21, with Razma and Rodriguez set to make their Winter Gardens debuts at the event.
The PDC ProTour returns with Players Championships 22-24 from August 3-5 at the Barnsley Metrodome.
2022 Players Championship 21 - Results
Monday July 11, Barnsley Metrodome
Keegan Brown 6-1 Cameron Menzies
Brendan Dolan 6-5 Danny Noppert
Damon Heta 6-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Mensur Suljovic 6-1 Nathan Rafferty
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Michael Smith
Peter Wright 6-2 Niels Zonneveld
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Mickey Mansell
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Keegan Brown
Damon Heta 6-2 Mensur Suljovic
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Peter Wright
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Nathan Aspinall
Brendan Dolan 7-4 Damon Heta
Jonny Clayton 7-4 Dave Chisnall
Brendan Dolan 8-5 Jonny Clayton