In the end, frustration reigned. Gabriel Clemens had just lost his sixth final on the PDC tour and thus missed not only his first title but also the first jump by a German to 18th place in the world rankings. Even more than the once again narrowly missed triumph, the Saarlander should have been annoyed by his performance. A catastrophic double odds of 13 percent dropped his average to 85.89.
Only one of his eight attempts found the target, so that in the end there was a clear 1:8 against Belgian Kim Huybrechts. The “German Giant” even lost its last final last year with 0:8 against the Dutchman Dirk van Duijvenbode.
After a missed dart on Tops, Clemens conceded the early break to make it 0:2, and after missing three chances for a direct re-break he was quickly three legs behind. In the fourth round, his opponent only gave him one check opportunity on the bullseye. But that too remained unused.
Clemens could see the anger now. The chance of being the first German player after Max Hopp to win a tournament on the professional tour seemed to have shrunk to a theoretical level after the 5-0 at the latest for Huybrechts. The Belgian checked 117 points to make it 7:0 before Clemens hit the scoreboard again with a high finish: 103 points for the only leg win. “Hurricane” Huybrechts checked on double eight in the next round and won his first title since 2015.
“It means everything to me. I don’t know what to say. That took so long. There were moments when I thought it might never happen again,” said the overjoyed winner, who eliminated world-class players Nathan Aspinall, Josh Rock and Gerwyn Price, among others, en route to the final.
“I want to get back in the top 16. I played in every major tournament in the first seven years of my career. And then no more. I felt like a loser,” reported Huybrechts, who was recently only able to use the boom in his home country economically. Together with his wife he opened a darts shop in Belgium. He also offers workshops. He is already fully booked until December.
Now, thanks to Dimitri van den Bergh, he was also able to respond to the growing interest in sport during his personal phase of weakness. “It’s not always just Dimitri, I’m still there too,” he said, laughing. “People think that today I’m going to sleep with a grin. But that’s not true. I won’t sleep at all.”
Clemens doesn’t have to mourn the poor performance in the final for too long either. By reaching the final, he confirmed his positive trend and secured important prize money for the ProTour ranking list, which awards 16 starting places for the World Matchplay in July and the World Grand Prix in October. He is currently in fifth and fourth place in the qualification ranking. With Martin Schindler (4th and 14th) there is currently a second German.
The day had already started promisingly from a German point of view. Of the six Germans who started in the field of 128 participants, all except Florian Hempel made it into the second round. The two tour newcomers Pascal Rupprecht and Daniel Klose won their matches against Englishman Darren Webster and Dutchman Jurjen van der Velde 6:3, Ricardo Pietreczko was able to beat Lee Evans from England with the same result, and both of them The best Germans didn’t show any weaknesses: Martin Schindler easily won his difficult opening draw against Ryan Meikle 6:1, Clemens prevailed unchallenged against Jules van Dongen from the USA: in the end he also had a clear 6:1.
In the round of the last 64, Klose lost 5:6 against the Englishman Martin Lukeman after leading 5:3, Rupprecht had no chance at 1:6 against Jim Williams from Wales, and Schindler surprisingly lost a high-class German duel against Pietreczko. The Wall’s average of 98.85 was topped by Pikachu’s average of 105.61.
After beating the Spaniard Jose Justicia 6:1 and beating Kevin Doets from the Netherlands 6:4, Clemens advanced to the round of 16. And Pietreczko also reached the round of the top 16 after beating Premier League player Chris Dobey 6-4. The young German then lost out to eventual winner Huybechts, while Clemens made his sixth final perfect with 6-3 wins over Ross Smith and Madars Razma and a 7-4 win over Canadian Matt Campbell. The Players Championship 4 continues in Barnsley on Sunday.