Nathan Aspinall tasted success in Barnsley on Wednesday evening as he claimed PDC Players Championship 18. For Aspinall, It’s his first senior PDC ranking title win. The Stockport-based star for the past four years has been knocking on the door so to speak in terms of winning his first senior event.
The former World Youth Championship finalist has appeared in several PDC European Tour events, and worked extremely hard to win his tour card in Wigan this January. And, the hard work and determination has really paid off for the Stockport man.
The field opened up quickly after just the first few rounds in Barnsley. Yesterday’s finalists Peter Wright and Daryl Gurney were eliminated in the very first round at the Barnsley Metrodome as they lost out to Arron Monk and Andy Boulton respectively.
Joining Wright and Gurney as first round casualties were Dave Chisnall & Kim Huybrechts. Rob Cross, Michael Smith, Gary Anderson, Simon Whitlock & Joe Cullen failed to advance through their respective boards which allowed a number of unexpected names to progress to the latter stages of Players Championship 18.
Over the course of tbe event, Aspinall was consistently averaging in the 90’s as he had to ride his luck at times, but his timing and composure was sensational.
Aspinall kicked off the day with a comfortable 6-1 victory over Brazil’s Diogo Portela as the Stockport ace recorded an impressive average of 100.6, he then took on the former Lakeside World finalist Danny Noppert in round two, it was a tough battle against Noppert, but Aspinall remained composed as he edged out the Dutchman in a 6-4 success with another high average of 97.1
In the board final, Aspinall took on Ritchie Edhouse, ‘The Asp’ was in a very comfortable position in the early knockings as he raced into a 5-1 lead, but Edhouse rallied to win three legs on-the-spin to reduce the arrears to 5-4, but it was all in vain as Aspinall produced a superb 13-dart leg to progress to the last 16.
In the last 16, Aspinall came up against the finalist from the German Darts Championship at the weekend ‘Lethal Biscuit’ James Wilson. Aspinall was again consistently in the mid-to-high 90’s in terms of his average, and much like his performance in the previous round, he raced into a 4-1 lead, Wilson reduced the deficit to 4-3 which forced Aspinall to produce a superb 11-dart leg to move within a leg of the last eight. Then, Aspinall followed that up with a 14-dart leg as he took out 60 to advance to the quarter-finals.
Aspinall’s performance in the last eight was arguably his strongest one of the day as he defied a 103.9 average from Steve Beaton as he edged out the ‘Bronzed Adonis’ 6-5 in what an epic battle. Aspinall averaged 102.1 himself en route, and it wasn’t all straightforward for Aspinall as he battled back from 2-0 behind as Beaton produced back-to-back 14-dart legs. The way that Aspinall rallied from that was superb as reeled off three straight legs in 13, 11 & 14 darts to move 3-2 ahead. The pair traded 15-darters before Beaton produced another solid 15-dart leg to level the match up at 4-4. The 15-dart trend continued as Aspinall took out a 65 checkout to move 5-4 ahead, Aspinall closed in on a 6-4 victory as he left 81 after just three visits to the board, and that pressure forced Beaton to fire in a spectacular 161 finish to force a deciding leg. Aspinall remained composed in the decider as he pulled out yet another 15-dart leg to seal the win, Aspinall he had another great start to the leg as he left 84 after just three visits.
Moving into the Semi-Finals, Aspinall took a former Cheshire player in Ian ‘Diamond’ White, and it was another tough battle for the Stockport man. Aspinall was up against it from the very first leg as White was relentless with his scoring power. White moved into a 3-1 lead early on as he produced two excellent legs won in 12 & 11 darts. The match looked to be Ian White’s to lose as he moved into a 5-2 lead, and from nowhere, Aspinall reeled off three consecutive legs in 14, 13 & 18 darts, and with that, surviving six match darts from White. Aspinall knew that he needed something special to seal the win, and he did just that as he fired in a stunning 128 checkout on the bull whilst under immense pressure as White left 81 after just nine darts.
In the final, Aspinall came up against Ryan Searle who recently won the Red Dragon Champion of Champions event in Cardiff a weeks ago. The pair actually met in the first round of PDC Players Championship 17 just 24 hours earlier, and Aspinall was out for revenge after Searle had the better of the Stockport man on Tuesday.
Searle got off to the perfect start in the final as he produced back-to-back 14-dart legs to open up a 2-0 lead. But, much like in the previous rounds, Aspinall went on a three-leg assault as moved 3-2 ahead with a 12-darter in the fifth leg as he piled in a 107 checkout.
Aspinall extended his lead to 4-2 as Searle missed two darts at D4 to level the match up, as Aspinall took full advantage of the error from Devon’s Searle. Searle soon put that disappointment behind him though as piled in back-to-back 13-darters to level the match up at 4-4. Aspinall produced back-to-back 16-dart legs to secure his very first senior PDC ranking title as the Stockport ace sunk to his knees in delight.
In Aspinall’s post-tournament interview with Dan Dawson, he expressed his delight on winning PDC Players Championship 18 👇👇
“This is massive for me and my family, I am so happy,” said Aspinall, who had previously failed to reach the quarter-finals of a ProTour event in 2018.
“When you have an opportunity you’ve got to take it and I’ve done that today – it all clicked together.
“Everyone always said I had potential but I’ve always just come up short. I know I’ve got the game and I knew my time would come and today is that day.”
Below are some vital statistics from Aspinall’s success at PDC Players Championship 18 compiled by darts statistician Carl Fletcher 👇👇👇
Photography courtesy of the Professional Darts Corporation