Winter Series Day 1
Michael Smith ended his two-year wait for a PDC title on Day One of the Winter Series in Coventry on Tuesday.
Smith defeated Jermaine Wattimena 8-6 in the final to pick up silverware for the first time since winning the Shanghai Darts Masters in July 2018.
In doing so, the world number four brought to an end a ten-match losing streak in PDC finals, the most recent of which came on Sunday at the World Cup of Darts as his England side went down to Wales.
Almost ten years on from picking up his first PDC crown, Smith now boasts ten ranking titles, having last tasted Players Championship victory in April 2018.
"It means everything to me to win this," said an emotional Smith.
"I said to Ian White 'I'm winning one of these titles this week no matter what' and I've done it on Day One.
"I don't give up. I believe in myself 100 per cent and this shows what you can achieve in life if you carry on.
"I've been averaging 100 all day until the final but I don't care/ I've finally got a ProTour win to my name after so long."
A fast-paced final between two of the world's fastest throwers began with a 170 checkout from Smith to break throw, the first of five breaks in the opening seven legs as both players battled for the ascendancy.
With Smith leading 5-4, Wattimena incredibly bust 16 twice with his first attempt at double before Smith eventually found double ten to hold throw and move within two legs of the title.
From there, Smith closed the game out with two further holds of throw, sealing victory on double top.
For Wattimena, the wait for a maiden PDC crown goes on, but by reaching his third ranking final the Dutchman has boosted his chances of reaching the BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts as the highest-ranked player on the Winter Series Order of Merit not to have already qualified for the televised event.
Elswehere, the first of five Players Championship events at the Ricoh Arena also saw notable success for Conan Whitehead, who reached his first ProTour quarter-final since winning his Tour Card in January 2019.
Winter Series Day 5
Joe Cullen picked up his second title of the year on the final day of the PDC Winter Series in Coventry on Saturday.
Cullen defeated Polish number one Krzysztof Ratajski 8-4 in the final with a 105.1 average to follow up his European Tour event win in October.
The title looked unlikely for the world number 17 as he trailed Justin Pipe 5-0 in the opening round, but an incredible comeback sparked a run of six further victories to claim the final Players Championship event of the year.
With Ratajski leading 2-1 in the opening stages, the Polish World Cup star missed break opportunities, allowing Cullen to level up.
A break of throw soon followed for Cullen to go 5-3 in front, a lead which the Yorkshireman pressed home for the remainder of the match.
Elsewhere, the fifth of five consecutive days of Players Championship events at the Ricoh Arena saw Kim Huybrechts and Andy Boulton reach ProTour semi-finals for the first time in over two years.
Having picked up titles on both the first two days, Michael Smith ends the Winter Series Order of Merit on top, while Jermaine Wattimena qualifies for the BoyleSports Grand Slam of Darts as the highest ranked non-qualified player.
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The PDC Winter Series will be held in Coventry from November 10-14. The event consists of five consecutive Players Championship tournaments.
The PDC wants to create a so-called bubble around the PDC Winter Series. Players and staff (such as tournament officials, security and production staff) undergo a Coronavirus test on a predefined time slot on the day of arrival. They must then await the results in their hotel room. The corona test (£ 110 each) is paid in full by the PDC.
A negative result means that a player is free of Coronavirus. As proof of this, a player is presented with a wristband, which must be worn throughout the event. With this wristband, a player can move freely within the bubble, which consists of a hotel, restaurant and playing area.
Removal from hotel with positive test
When a player has tested positive, the darts player in question must leave the hotel immediately to go in self-isolation. Non-British players are first given the opportunity to make arrangements to self-isolate in the United Kingdom. They have to go in isolation for two weeks before they can return home.
The PDC advises players with Coronavirus symptoms to first undergo a Covid-19 test in their own environment. In this way a possible wasted trip can be prevented. Even if that test is negative, a player must still participate in the PDC test.
Extra measures around PDC Winter Series
There are consequences for leaving the bubble. Regardless of the length or content of the trip, a second Coronavirus test will be done and in the meantime a player must go into hotel room isolation. A second test must be paid by the player himself.
It can take up to 12 hours for the results to be confirmed, putting a player at risk of being excluded from participating in any of the Players Championship tournaments during the PDC Winter Series.
Medically qualified doctors are also present at the location. They can send players with symptoms to their hotel room until they are declared medically healthy again.
Measures are also taken during the tournaments to prevent infection. Players are expected to keep a distance of one meter from each other and wash their hands regularly.
In addition, walk routes are utilised and there is a waiting area where players must stand when their opponent is throwing. Players each have their own table where they can put their belongings (such as a bottle of water, phone and darts equipment). These tables are cleaned after every game. Once players have lost and done their marking duties, they must immediately leave the playing area and return to the hotel.
The PDC Winter Series consists of five Players Championship tournaments, each with £75,000 in prize money on offer. Players earn £500 with a win in the first round and this adds up to £10,000 for the winner of an event.
The prize money counts towards the PDC Order of Merit, Pro Tour Ranking and the Players Championship Order of Merit. In addition, a special PDC Winter Series Order of Merit is being set up. The highest player on this ranking who hasn't qualified yet receives an invitation to the Grand Slam of Darts.
Result - Prize Money
Last 16 £1,500
Last 32 £1,000
Last 64 £500
Winter series pdc
.De Sousa v Wright - Final - PDC Winter Series Day Four
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