Callan Rydz ended almost two years without a PDC ranking title by taking victory in Sunday’s Players Championship 19, edging out Dave Chisnall in a deciding leg in the final in Barnsley.
Bedlington’s Rydz had made his breakthrough with two ranking titles in 2021 before reaching the World Championship quarter-finals at Alexandra Palace as he broke into the top 32.
However, he has endured some difficult moments during the past 18 months and had dropped from 23rd at the start of 2023 to 29th.
The 25-year-old came through the field at the Barnsley Metrodome on Sunday in the first of three successive Players Championships to end his wait for a title.
The £12,000 prize money also strengthens his chances of qualifying for next month’s BoyleSports World Grand Prix, and is a major boost for the Bedlington thrower.
“I’ve been awful this year, but in this last month I’ve been using new darts and they went alright today,” revealed Rydz after claiming the deciding leg against Chisnall.
“I’ve always thought about slowing down, sometimes I was a little bit too quick for myself, but it’s worked for me today.
Rydz admitted that missing July’s Betfred World Matchplay had been a blow as he struggled for form and confidence – but that advice from World Champion Michael Smith has helped his resurgence.
“Michael tells me all the time that setbacks are there to make you stronger, and this last couple of years have been a big setback,” he said.
“Some of the advice I didn’t normally listen to, I’ve started listening to and I think I’m turning into a little bit of a better person.”
Rydz produced some sparkling darts during his run to the final, defeating both Gabriel Clemens and James Wade with ton-plus averages.
He also saw off two-time World Champion Peter Wright, reigning European Champion Ross Smith, Mervyn King and Robert Owen before facing top seed Chisnall for the title.
Finishes of 108 and 118 helped Rydz to open up a 4-1 lead against Chisnall in the final, and he also held a 6-3 advantage before the gap was closed to one leg.
Rydz took the 12th to move a leg away from the title, only for Chisnall to win back-to-back legs with checkouts of 100 and 73 as he kept his hopes alive – but a 75 finish on tops saw the youngster close out a memorable win.
Chisnall had been aiming to claim his third ranking title of 2023 after winning through to the decider, having been victorious in a brace of European Tour events earlier this year.
He was in superb form through six wins on his way to the final, with UK Open champion Andrew Gilding being defeated 6-4 before he averaged almost 106 in a quarter-final win over Joe Cullen and 103 in the semi-finals against Ryan Joyce.
Players Championship 15 runner-up Joyce fell one game short of reaching his second final of 2023, while decorated star Wade’s five wins saw him reach a second semi-final of the year.
Scottish thrower Cameron Menzies enjoyed a remarkable day, averaging 114.58 as he saw off Rob Cross and over 104 and 106 respectively in wins over Mike De Decker and Gian van Veen in his best run for four years on the ProTour.
He was joined in the last eight by Ross Smith, Joe Cullen and Brendan Dolan.
Gerwyn Price’s bid to win a third successive Players Championship was ended in the first round as he lost out to fellow Welshman Jim Williams, despite a 106.54 average, while World Champion Michael Smith lost to Van Veen in round two.
Vincent van der Voort landed a nine-dart finish during his first round tie with Radek Szaganski, although his perfect leg to force a decider came in vain as the Polish ace prevailed 6-5.
The PDC ProTour treble-header continues on Monday with Players Championship 20 from 1300 BST in Barnsley.
2023 Players Championship 19
Sunday September 3, Barnsley Metrodome
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Andrew Gilding
Joe Cullen 6-1 Vladimir Andersen
Ryan Joyce 6-5 Owen Bates
Brendan Dolan 6-2 Kevin Doets
Ross Smith 6-5 Arron Monk
Callan Rydz 6-4 Robert Owen
James Wade 6-5 Ronny Huybrechts
Cameron Menzies 6-5 Gian van Veen
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Joe Cullen
Ryan Joyce 6-5 Brendan Dolan
Callan Rydz 6-4 Ross Smith
James Wade 6-4 Cameron Menzies
Dave Chisnall 7-2 Ryan Joyce
Callan Rydz 7-4 James Wade
Callan Rydz 8-7 Dave Chisnall