Dave Chisnall won his fourth PDC European Tour title by opening the 2023 season in style with an 8-5 win over Luke Humphries, to scoop the Interwetten Baltic Sea Darts Open title in Kiel on Sunday night.
The year’s opening £175,000 European Tour event saw a record-breaking number of maximums landed across the three days at the Wunderino Arena, before Chisnall left with the £30,000 top prize.
Humphries had won four European Tour titles during 2022 and was bidding to back up his number one seeding with another success – but saw Chisnall prove too strong in an entertaining final.
The Morecambe ace took the opening three legs without reply, capitalising on four early missed doubles from Humphries to take command.
Humphries hit back to level, landing legs of 13 and 12 darts along the way, and also shared the next two before Chisnall pulled clear.
Legs of 12 and 13 darts gave Chisnall breathing space, and double five gave him a third successive leg – and though Humphries took the next to keep his hopes alive, double five for a 13-darter sealed glory.
His average of 101.31 in the final was bettered by his sensational 107.04 average to see off Gerwyn Price in Sunday afternoon’s third round.
He then edged past German favourite Martin Schindler in the quarter-finals before winning an extraordinary semi-final with Jonny Clayton 7-5.
Clayton hit back from 2-0 down with finishes of 122 and 120 in a five-leg burst to move 5-2 up – only for seven missed doubles in leg eight to prove a turning point.
Chisnall capitalised and took five legs in a row without missing a double – landing an 11-darter, a two-tops 100 checkout and 88 on the bull to secure his spot in a tenth European Tour final, where he claimed a fourth title.
“I’ve had a great tournament,” said Chisnall, who hit eight 180s in the final. “Luke is phenomenal, so I’m glad to get a win over him.
“You always need a bit of luck, and I think both Jonny Clayton and Martin Schindler could have both beaten me but I dug deep.
“I’m playing good darts at the moment and hopefully it continues. I love playing in front of [German fans], they’ve been a great crowd and gave me so much respect.”
World number five Humphries leaves Kiel with £12,000 as runner-up after suffering defeat in a European Tour final for the first time.
The top seed was in fine form as he overcame Dimitri Van den Bergh and Dirk van Duijvenbode to reach the semi-finals, where he survived two missed match darts from Ryan Searle in the closing stages of the contest.
Although he was defeated by Chisnall, Humphries was pleased with his performance in Kiel, in his first big-stage appearance since missing out on a spot in the Cazoo Premier League four weeks ago.
“I can look back on this final and know I had my chances,” he said. “I felt good, there was no fatigue but they weren’t dropping in when I wanted them to and sometimes that happens.
“Five European Tour finals in my last 11 tournaments is some going, and proves that I’ve got the game. I’ve shown a little bit this weekend [to say] ‘Don’t write me off, I’m still a decent player’.
“Chizzy was fantastic and played well, and was a deserving winner but I feel like [I had] a little bit of a point to prove maybe and I can still play good darts.”
Premier League star Clayton saw off Stephen Bunting and Steve Beaton on Sunday as he reached the last four, while Searle’s run to the same stage saw him overcome Martijn Dragt and Keegan Brown for the loss of just three legs before he was edged out by Humphries.
The PDC European Tour will return from March 24-26 with the Interwetten European Darts Open in Leverkusen. For tickets, visit pdc-europe.tv.
Coverage of the PDC European Tour will be shown through Viaplay, DAZN and PDCTV, with 13 three-day tournaments being staged during 2023.
2023 Interwetten Baltic Sea Darts Open
Sunday February 26
Luke Humphries 6-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3 Michael Smith
Ryan Searle 6-2 Martijn Dragt
Keegan Brown 6-4 Peter Wright
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Stephen Bunting
Steve Beaton 6-4 Joe Cullen
Martin Schindler 6-2 Damon Heta
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Gerwyn Price
Luke Humphries 6-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Ryan Searle 6-1 Keegan Brown
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Steve Beaton
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Martin Schindler
Luke Humphries 7-6 Ryan Searle
Dave Chisnall 7-5 Jonny Clayton
Dave Chisnall 8-5 Luke Humphries