ON the back of a disappointing first round defeat in the European Championships, Cross had to go back to Barnsley for the last two Players Championships (29/30) to cement his place in the Grand Slam – where his quest was successful and will be featuring in this year’s tournament in Wolverhampton.
Players Championship 29
To start the day he took on Ricardo Pietreczko, who played out of his skin against him before in a Players Championship. With a steady average of 93 to start the day, he convincingly won 6-1 to progress.
Next game the score ended the same as the first round, but a better performance was thrown as Cross averaged just over a ton against Jamie Hughes. Two 13 and one 14 darter helped him seal the win, with Cross hitting two 180s in the last three legs. In the last 32 he took on James Wade, and yet again, with the scoreline being 6-1, Cross threw the
best he played in both events as he averaged 113.29. With both players sharing the first two legs, Cross then won the next five without reply as he won the legs in 12, 11, 11, 13 and 15 darts in what was a fantastic performance. Checkouts of 149 and 127 helped Cross massively in that 5 leg stint.
Despite hitting two maximums in the seven legs, Cross’ 130+ scores were what gave him the edge.
Another 6-1 win came in the last 16 for Cross against Danny Jansen, which was another convincing win. Despite averaging 17 points less, he wasn’t put under pressure throughout the game and got the job done. Two more 100+ checkouts, 106 and 100, were the highlights with some impressive
switching gave him a spot in another quarter-final.
The quarter-finals signified the end of Cross’ day, as he lost out to Mike de Decker 6-4. Both players shared the opening eight legs. With Cross making it 4-3 to hold, this was where the turning point of the game led to the climax of this encounter. Cross put on the pressure with a max to leave the 170, de
Decker went on to leave 60 from 96, which gave Cross the chance to snatch the leg and break, but he missed the bullseye and De Decker hit the double last dart to level up. He then went on to win the next two legs despite Cross doing everything he could to force the game in his favour.
Players Championship 30
Cross got off to an excellent start in the last Players Championship event of the year, defeating Dan Read 6-0 with a 103 average. With 3x 12 darters thrown to raise his average, it was a good start to the day. Three T18s and a 140 checkout in six darts was the main highlight, which motivated Cross
to win the remaining legs.
Next up for Cross was Max Hopp and he got off to a brilliant start, as he checked out 161 to break the throw which he then started with his first maximum of the match that led to him doubling his lead. Hopp overcame the 2-0 leg deficit to win the next three, which was where Cross dropped his
game slightly but dug in deep to win four on the trot to end up victorious. Back-to-back 13 darters in the last two legs gave Cross the win 6-3.
Up next was Raymond van Barneveld, which was where his day ended as he lost to a 6-3 scoreline.
There was no splitting the pair for the first 6 legs, as both won three apiece, but Barney punished Cross’ doubling for the next two legs to put himself in a comfortable position. A 16-darter hold gave Barney the win on D10. Cross showed an excellent display of scoring though, hitting maximums, a
174, 140’s, 136, 134’s, 133 and a 132.
Words by Henry Cheal.