FOLLOWING Friday’s disappointment of failing to qualify for both the Austrian Darts Open and the European Darts Grand Prix at the Barnsley Metrodome, it was back to the bread and butter tournaments that are the Players Championships on Saturday and Sunday and with two good showings, Simon Stevenson added 1500 points to his Order of Merit placing.
He was drawn against Kirk Shepherd in Players Championship 11, who he played against twice in 2018 with each player winning once.
The 32-year-old marksman won the opener in 16, only for Simon to edge 2-1 in front with wins in 19 and 13.
A 15-darter from Shepherd levelled it up once more before The Mirror Man, aided by two maximums, won the fifth leg in 13.
Shepherd could still not be shaken off as he took the next in 16, but two legs from the Plymouth marksman in 13 and 17 put him just one leg away from victory at 5-3.
The Swindon thrower though was still a threat after he clinched the ninth leg in 16, but Stevenson made sure of victory in the very next leg when, aided by his seventh 180 of the match, he took it in 13.
Steve Lennon was Stevenson’s next opponent and the Irishman won the early exchanges in 14 and 16 to lead 2-0.
A 14-darter from Simon reduced the deficit only for the 25-year-old’s two leg advantage to be restored when winning leg four in 16.
Two maximums in consecutive legs helped Stevenson to take them both in 14 to tie the match at 3-3, but sadly those were the last games he was to win.
The Irishman from Carlow checked out from 127 for a win in 12 and followed it up with a 14-darter to lead 5-3.
Stevenson though was still fighting and hit his fourth maximum of the match to leave 80 after 12, but Lennon also left 80 after 12 and with the darts, he checked out in 15 for a 6-3 win and deny Simon a board final against Michael Smith.
Players Championship 12 was contested yesterday, and Simon maintained his good form from the previous day when, in his opening match, he emerged a 6-4 winner over Ryan Meikle.
Meikle was becoming to be one of Simon’s bogey players, having met four times before and the 22-year-old winning all of them, but that form counted for nothing as Stevenson claimed a solid victory.
The Ipswich thrower won the opener in 17 and followed it up with a checkout of 144 to go 2-0 up in 15, having scored 384 points with his last nine darts, only for The Mirrorman to win four on the bounce, which included three 14-darters to lead 4-2.
Meikle won the next in 16 but Stevenson remained focused and clinched the next in 15 when finishing at the first time of asking from 106 and although the Ipswich man won the ninth leg in 11, Simon wrapped up a comprehensive 6-4 victory with a win in 17.
Adrian Gray, who had earlier put out Adrian Lewis, was The Mirror Man’s next opponent and the two could not be separated after the first eight legs.
Gray edged in front for the first time when winning the ninth, only for Simon to win the last two legs and claim a 6-5 victory, with four of the six legs being won in 14 or better.
Now into the last 32, Simon had to meet Corey Cadby in the board final and had a brilliant start when finishing a 15-darter with a kill of 120.
The Australian moved 3-1 in front though in 15, 12 and 17 before a 17-dart leg of his own brought Simon to within one leg of his opponent at 2-3.
There was still only one leg in it after the next four were shared but the 10th leg was won by Cadby who progressed with a 6-4 victory.
This was a much-improved performance from The Mirror Man, and he must now kick on and replicate this from when he next competes in Players Championships 13 and 14 at the end of the month back in Barnsley.
In his five matches he recorded 16 maximums, had a checkout percentage of 41% and maintained a three-dart average of 95.09.