By Tom Beresford
WITH PDC Players Championship events 5-6 coming to It’s conclusion, It was another decent weekend at the office for Josh Payne. Much like last weekend, Josh suffered an early exit in the first event of the weekend on Saturday, Josh took on the World no.2 Peter Wright, and the Kent-based star played pretty well, he suffered a 6-2 defeat to Wright. But, but the score-line didn’t reflect Josh’s performance one bit. Payne missed several crucial doubles at key points in the match. Payne broke the throw in the opening lead as he went 1-0 ahead, Josh then missed two darts for a 2-0 lead, as Wright took out 72 to level the match at 1-1.Wright produced a 15-dart leg to move 2-1 ahead, more drama unfolded in the next leg as Josh missed a dart to level at 2-2 as Wright took out 24 for a 3-1 lead. Following that, Wright produced an 11-dart leg on throw to move 4-1 ahead. Josh then piled in a superb 120 finish as he pegged the score back to 4-2. Payne found himself in a great position to break, but he missed two darts at D16 as Wright moved 5-2 clear. Wright then broke Josh’s throw with a 16-darter to complete a 6-2 win.
In Players Championship six on Sunday, Payne produced a string of marvellous displays as he went on to reach the last 16 just like last weekend. It was the two-year anniversary since Payne won Players Championship six in 2016, which was Payne’s first PDC ranking title win.
In his opening match, Payne came up against the Welshman Gerwyn Price. And, what a rollercoaster of a match it was. Josh managed to see off Price 6-4 in the end, and it was his fifth successive victory over the Welshman. But, it could of been a much heavier victory. Payne made a stunning start at his cruised into a 2-0 lead, he then missed 3 darts at D18 for a 3-0 advantage, he was punished for that error as Price took the next three legs as he moved 3-2 ahead. Josh had the opportunity to level things up at 3-3, but he missed four darts to do so, and Price moved 4-2 ahead, but what a response from Payne as he won four legs on-the-spin to see the match out, with a string of superb legs. The highlight was Josh’s 85 finish in leg eight as both players left a two-dart combination after nine darts, it culminated in a 12-darter from Payne. Then, in the final two legs, Payne won legs in 14 and 16 darts respectively to book his place in round two.
In the second round, Payne came up against an experienced professional in Mark Dudbridge, Payne eased his way into round three in Milton Keynes as he completed a 6-2 victory over Mark Dudbridge.Payne produced a solid display in booking his place in the board final, and he very nearly landed a nine-dart leg in the final leg as he missed D12 for the perfect leg.
That victory seen Payne book his place in the board eight final, in that final he faced a tough opponent in Chris Dobey, who reached the final just 24 hours earlier. It was yet another stunning performance from Payne in his board final clash with Chris Dobey. The standard was ludicrous in the opening stages, with Payne averaging over 120 and change, Dobey produced a couple of 12-dart legs to lead 2-0 which included a superb 170 attempt from Payne, but back came the Kent-based starvin some style as he ran off six legs without reply to book his place in the last 16. A 102.2 average from Payne, and in those six legs, four of them were won in 15 darts or less (14,12,14,13).
In the last 16, Payne faced the current World champion Rob Cross in the last 16, and despite suffering a 6-4 defeat to Cross, Josh did have chances to take two out of the first three legs, but D16 wasn’t his friend at that time in the match. He then missed two darts at D8 for a 4-3 lead. So, the opportunities were there to make the last eight, he just needed that extra bit of luck on the day. Josh did keep his hopes alive as he moved within a leg of Cross as he made it 5-4. He then produced another superb leg as he wired the bull for a 121 finish and a 12-darter. Only to be denied by a 10-dart leg from Cross as he got over the line.Payne could of arguably won the match, but he will take all of the positives and take them into the European Tour event two in Munich in two weeks time.It’s been another fantastic Sunday for Payne, as he of course reached the last 16 at Players Championship four last weekend.