Darts: Clinical Clayton wins third title of 2021 at Players Championship 7
(Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Jonny Clayton’s outstanding start to 2021 continued on Thursday picking up his second ProTour title of the year, defeating James Wade 8-5 in the Final on day three of the second PDC Super Series at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

The Players Championship 7 final saw the two most recent winners of televised titles clash for the £10,000 first prize and it was the Welshman who emerged triumphant.

The current Masters champion also won Players Championship 4 in Bolton last month amongst reaching a further two finals in the same week and his form throughout the day proved why he is one if not the most in form player in PDC darts dropping just 20 legs.

It moves Clayton one step closer to Joe Cullen for the 16th spot on the main PDC Order of Merit. His win also made him the only man to win multiple titles so far on the ProTour this year after a different winner in each so far before today.

  • Clayton cruises to second ranking title of the year

Clayton followed up on his success at the first PDC Super Series in Bolton, where he reached three finals in four days, winning one. The Ferret's form throughout the first seven Players Championship events this year proves why he is one of, if not, the most in-form player in the world right now.

He averaged around 99 in three of his opening four matches, brushing aside Josh Payne, Ted Evetts, Jason Lowe and Steve Lennon. He was hardly challenged all day, with his tightest win coming in the quarter final against José De Sousa where both players averaged over 103.

Clayton had reeled off the final four legs without reply to defeat de Sousa and then went on to whitewash Jason Heaver 7-0 in the semi-finals to continue his outstanding run of legs as he reach a staggering fifth final of the year and we are only in March.

(Photo Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
(Photo Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
  • The Machine battles through

Wade followed up Wednesday’s quarter final appearance by reaching the decider 24 hours later during a high quality day of his own.

He averaged over 100 in his early wins over Irish youngster Ciaran Teenhan and former BDO World Masters runner-up Wayne Jones before dispatching Luke Humphries in a repeat of the recent UK Open final meeting.

The Machine was tested more than The Ferrett, coming through a tight battle against Gordon Mathers and Darius Labanauskas to make the semi finals where he would meet Gabriel Clemens. The German Number One produce a stirring fightback after being 4-0 down to level but it was Wade who managed to hold him off advancing to the final.

(Photo Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
(Photo Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
  • The final: As it happened

The run of continuous legs without response continued in the final as Clayton started brilliantly, winning four of the first five legs to go 4-1 in front. He then followed it up with a 116 checkout in the sixth leg, to go 5-1 ahead with Wade sitting on tops.

Wade then responded with back to back 14 darters , followed by an 18 darter to cut the gap to 5-4 in  a run of three legs. However, with 32 left to level, The Ferret cleaned up 72 with his final dart in hand to restore the two leg cushion.

The Machine fired in a 180 and then found a 15 dart break to cut the gap to one, but once again Clayton punished his opponent hitting double eight with Wade on a one dart outshot. He cleaned up 25 to take a 7-5 lead, before hitting double 12 for a 13 darter in the next leg to win the contest and seal his third tournament win of the year.

  • Clayton on winning second ProTour Title of 2021

Clayton, who is arguably the in form player at the minute with confidence and consistency, had a lot of praise for the runner-up in his interview after defeating Wade.

"It's brilliant, I'm a happy man," said Clayton in his post-match interview with PDC’s Dan Dawson, after he was congratulated by Wade for his clutch doubling after the final.

"James finishes brilliantly so for him to comment about my finishing, I'm a happy man - but I had to finish my last darts because James was there waiting. He kept coming back and I was nervous."

"I'm going to keep trying to get to finals. I've got confidence and consistency; my averages are quite high in the 90s and maybe in the 100s, and my confidence is flying with that kind of average."

"I take everything day by day, and hopefully it keeps going."

  • What else happened on day three of the PDC Super Series?

Clemens’s run saw him reach a second semi-final on the ProTour this year whilst Heaver reached his first ever PDC semi-final before losing to tournament winner Clayton. Heaver, who only picked up his tour card at Q-School, saw off Vincent van der Voort in the last eight.

(Photo PDC.tv)
(Photo PDC.tv)

Winchester’s Chas Barstow, who narrowly missed out on a Tour Card this year, was the surprise of the day. Barstow beat yesterday’s winner and World Champion Gerwyn Price en route to a quarter final. Sadly, for him, he lost 6-3 to Clemens to end his spectacular run.

On a wide-open day, De Sousa also got back in form before he makes his Premier League debut. He lost to Clayton in the last eight but defeated Dimitri Van den Bergh and Jeff Smith in previous rounds.

Mathers also had a great run on day three, his best since winning his Tour Card as he reached the last 16.

There were no changes in the race for the World Matchplay, as Ryan Searle stayed ahead of Stephen Bunting by £250 in the final provisional qualification spot.

Finally, it was another day of huge shocks in Milton Keynes. Peter Wright, Ian White and Devon Petersen were among the big names to go out in round one. Nathan Aspinall, Simon Whitlock, Mensur Suljovic and World Champion Price all went in round two.

(Photo Getty Images)
(Photo Getty Images)

Friday sees PDC Super Series 2 conclude with Players Championship 8 in Milton Keynes, with a further £75,000 in prize money on offer as 128 players compete from 1200 GMT.

  • 2021 Players Championship 7 Results (Selected)

Quarter-Finals

James Wade 6-4 Darius Labanauskas

Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Chas Barstow

Jonny Clayton 6-4 Jose de Sousa

Jason Heaver 6-4 Vincent van der Voort

Semi-Finals

James Wade 7-5 Gabriel Clemens

Jonny Clayton 7-0 Jason Heaver

Final

Jonny Clayton 8-5 James Wade

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