Cross misses out in epic Players final

ROB CROSS admitted there were “positives to take” from an epic defeat to Michael van Gerwen in the Players Championship. 

It took an incredible performance from the Dutchman to stop World No.7 Cross in a cracking final in Minehead. 

Van Gerwen hit a nine-darter and 170 finish as Voltage fought back from 4-1 down to almost level it up at 7-7 – but for MVG’s sensational big fish finish. 

Cross said: “I’m going to use his word, he was phenomenal. He was different gravy there at the start. He’s back on song. 

“Once I started to find my feet and a few 180s, it could have been different. But I missed chances.

“I forgot I had it up until this weekend. There’s positives to take, move on and try and take that World Championship again.” 

Words by Phil Lanning. Images by Taylor Lanning.

Players Championship report by Henry Cheal. 

GOING into Minehead for the last TV major before the World Championship at the Alexandra Palace, Cross came into the tournament feeling confident and relaxed as he reached his first TV major final since his European Championship success last year.

Round 1: Kevin Doets

In the opening round he took on the Dutchman Kevin Doets. While both players broke each other’s throw in the opening three legs, and a 143-checkout thrown to take the opening leg, a crucial hold by Cross followed to extend his lead to two legs. From that 3-1 lead, Cross never fell behind again despite Doets taking two of the next three legs to be back within one. A 15 and 11 darter gave Cross

the edge to progress through. With a steady 96 average thrown, Cross hit high scores of 171 and 2 180s.

Round 2: Gary Anderson

Up next the following day was Gary Anderson which went the distance. Anderson got out the gates well to take the first two legs, before 12 and two 14 darters from Cross gave him the lead. With

Anderson levelling up the affair, Cross was chasing for the lead but couldn’t find enough against the

throw which led to him being 5-4 down. With Cross holding to take the game to a last leg shootout,

he punished Anderson by throwing a 180 and 108 checkout back-to back to get over the line. Cross hit an improved 97 average, with a rounded display of scoring including four maximums, a 162,

multiple 140s and a 135, 134 and 133.

Last 16: Martin Schindler

As the format moved to best of 21 for the round of 16 onwards, Cross took on Martin Schindler – who he recently overcame in the Grand Slam. Again, just like in the previous round, Cross lost the opening two legs. Cross dug in deep and found his feet by winning six on the spin, though his highest leg in that stint was a 15 darter. Schindler stopped the rot, but by that point Cross had a lead to see

off the game without any worry. With a further 5 180s thrown to add to his tally, he also hit a crucial 174, a 145, multiple 140s and a 134. For the third game in a row, Cross hit a ton+ checkout, taking

out 108 on D16 to put himself 9-6 up. A 92.6 average was thrown, which wasn’t at his best, but tomorrow was a vast improvement given the longer format.

Quarter-final: Dirk van Duijvenbode 

Going into the quarter-finals of a TV tournament was new territory for Cross this year, but he put in the best TV average (104.17) since his World Championship final win in what was a quite magnificent

display against the Dutchman. Despite losing the opening leg, that was the only time he was behind all game in a dominant 10-3 win and showed the world he was up for the task, where he checked

out a magnificent 143 to break the throw in the third leg. 7 of the 10 legs won were in 14 darts or fewer, with 2 of those being in 11 darts. Cross’ clinical scoring was shown, with 3 maximums, a 177,

a 174, a 171, 140s, a 139, a 137, a 135 and a 134 showed his strong scoring ability on all three highest trebles. A 62.5% doubling checkout percentage made the performance even more difficult to stop.

Semi-final: Jonny Clayton

The semi-final clash with Jonny Clayton was a tight affair throughout most of the match, but Cross stepped up when he had to by sealing the last 3 legs to round off an 11-7 win. Continuing where he

left off in the afternoon, Cross won the opening two legs and checkout 132 on the bull in the process. 

Despite Clayton came back and was 4-3 up, Cross hit back once more to go 6-4 in front with a 127 check out on the bull again and never lost the lead following this. With both players holding

throw, Cross was stopping Clayton the opportunity to break when it mattered but a crucial 15-dart break himself for 10-7 gave Cross the edge to win on throw to close out the encounter. His scoring

was still impressive which helped put his average up to 98, where 6 180s, a 177 and a few 130+ made the difference.

Final: Michael van Gerwen

In a repeat of the European Championship final last year, Cross took on Michael van Gerwen for the Players Championship final crown. MVG hit a nine darter in just the third leg of the match which helped put him in a 5-1 lead. Cross stopped the rot and did extremely well to fight back to one leg behind. However, Cross missed 2 at double to draw level before MVG checked out the 170 to increase his advantage. Despite playing well for the rest of the game, MVG stepped it up a gear to win the remaining legs to close out an 11-6 win. Cross’ scoring was remarkable by hitting 11 maximums, but ultimately his doubling cost him, as it was 28.6%. 

Total 180’s: 31

100+ Checkouts: 143, 132, 127, 108.