Ryan Joyce beat Callan Rydz, Daniel Klose, Mervyn King, Jose de Sousa, Ritchie Edhouse, then Gerwyn Price on his way to winning the title at Players Championship 26; Gerwyn Price was bidding for his fourth Players Championship title this year
Monday 23 October 2023 18:57, UK
Ryan Joyce clinched his second PDC ranking title with victory at Players Championship 26, after recovering from 6-4 down to stun Gerwyn Price in a thrilling decider, while Radek Szaganski and Ross Smith also claimed titles.
Joyce, appearing in his third ranking final of 2023, looked set to be edged out by the irrepressible Welshman, only to launch a stunning late fightback to end his three-year wait for a PDC title in Barnsley.
The Newcastle-upon-Tyne star had claimed his previous ranking title in July 2020 during the PDC Summer Series as the sport returned from the Covid-19 pandemic, and scooped £12,000 this time around.
Price seized the early initiative in an exciting final with back-to-back 14-dart legs, and a sublime 11-dart hold in leg four saw him restore his two-leg buffer.
Joyce responded with a 12-darter and also converted a stylish 131 checkout in leg seven, but he was unable to make inroads on the Price throw, as the Premier League runner-up stretched his lead to 6-4.
However, Joyce turned the contest on its head during a crucial three-leg spell to move to the brink of victory at 7-6, having produced a stunning 153 set-up shot in leg 12 to break Price's resistance.
The 2021 world champion hit back with a nerveless 110 skin-saver to force a decider, although Joyce was undeterred, replying with a 107 finish in a dramatic finale to secure the victory.
"I played really well," reflected Joyce, a two-time runner-up on the Players Championship circuit in 2023.
"This is one of the best days of my career. It's up there with the one [title] I won a few years back, and hopefully I can build on this now."
Joyce, who now moves back inside the world's top 40, attributes a change in lifestyle and some advice from Masters champion Chris Dobey as the catalysts for his revival over recent months.
"I have been trying to eat more healthily and lose a little bit of weight," continued the former World Championship quarter-finalist.
"I've lost a couple of stone since June and it does make you feel better.
"I also have to give credit to Chris Dobey. I felt like I was struggling with my scoring a few months ago, and he really helped me.
"I cannot underestimate the power of that five-minute lesson with Chris. It was the turning point for me."
Szaganski secured his maiden PDC ranking title with an 8-5 victory over Connor Scutt in Friday's Players Championship 27.
Polish-born Szaganski, a bus driver now based in Ireland, produced a series of stunning displays to become only the second Polish player to win a PDC ranking event.
"To be the best player in that room today, it means a lot," admitted Szaganski, who still faces a battle to retain his PDC Tour Card in January, having climbed to 76th on the Order of Merit.
"When I won my Tour Card [in 2022], I thought I might get one good run, but I never expected to win a title.
"To be honest, I shouldn't be here because in my first game against Jacques, he missed four darts for the match, but this is darts. Sometimes you need luck, and that is what happened to me.
"This means a lot. There are no words to explain how I feel right now, but I am really happy. This could be life-changing."
Smith claimed his second ranking title of 2023 as he landed a nine-dart finish on the way to glory in Saturday's Players Championship 28 in Barnsley.
Smith warmed up in style for his defence of the Machineseeker European Championship next weekend by scooping the £12,000 top prize to conclude four days of PDC ProTour action.
The Kent star landed a perfect leg during his second round whitewash of Robbie Knops, and completed a memorable day with an 8-6 triumph against Damon Heta in the final.