ANOTHER top performance from Simon Stevenson yesterday, in Players Championship Four, has enabled him to reach his highest ever ranking of 11th place in the Players Championship Order of Merit standings.
His first opponent was Daryl Gurney, who Stevenson had defeated 6-0 on their one and only previous meeting in round three of Players Championship Two back in February.
The Mirrorman started with a 15-darter which he finished with a kill of 116 before going 3-0 up in 13 and 19, having hit a maximum in all three legs.
The Londonderry marksman responded by winning the fourth in 15, aided by a checkout of 121 and followed it up with a win in 12 after checking out from 127.
Stevenson moved 4-2 in front with a leg in 16 but a 16-darter of his own followed by a win in 15, enhanced with an outshot of 111, brought Gurney level at 4-4.
MAN IN THE MIRROR: Two solid performances from Simon Stevenson has enabled him to climb to a best ranking of No.11 in the Players Championship Order of Merit.
Yet another ton plus finish of 116 from the 2017 World Grand Prix champion enabled him to edge in front for the first time at 5-4 with a leg in just 12 darts, but Stevenson kept focused.
He made it 5-5 with a win in 19 and then in the deciding leg, Gurney missed three darts at double 16 before Stevenson checked out at the first time of asking for a great victory.
Robert Marijanovic was Stevenson’s opponent in the round of 64 and the Croatian took the opening leg in 17 before the Plymouth marksman responded with wins in 13 and 14.
A win in 16 for Marijanovic brought the two players level but that was the last leg he was to win as Stevenson took the next four in 18, 14 and 15 before clinching another 15-darter with a kill of 120, achieving a match average of 98.7 in the process.
Josh Payne, who had never beaten Stevenson in their previous two meetings, took the opening leg in 18 in the next round but wins in 13 and 16 edged Stevenson in front at 2-1.
Payne levelled when an outshot of 126 finished a 15-dart leg and then went 4-3 in front when he won two of the next three legs which were all won in 14.
The next leg proved to be crucial and Stevenson uncharacteristically ended up on double one before his opponent took the leg and moved to within one game of victory.
Stevenson responded by taking the next in 15 with a 120 checkout and then made a kill of 157 to finish off a 12-darter as the two “gladiators” were now locked at 5-5.
At the end of the 11th and decisive leg, Payne left himself 32, Stevenson left himself 40. But with the former having the darts, he checked out for a 6-5 victory, which was agonising for Stevenson, especially after posting an average of 102.3
Stevenson finished the day having hit seven maximums and achieving an overall average of 97.60 which was the 12th highest average of the 128 competitors.
His overall PDC Order of Merit ranking was also enhanced when he claimed another 1,000 ranking points, a total of 2,000 for the weekend.
The Plymouth marksman will not have long to dwell on what may have been yesterday, as he will be back in action as early as this coming Saturday when the world’s top players will be competing in Players Championship Five and Six at Arena MK, Milton Keynes.