CHISNALL DENIES NINE-DART HUMPHRIES TO TRIUMPH IN BUDAPEST
Dave Chisnall defied a spectacular nine-darter from Luke Humphries to claim his third European Tour title of 2023 in an astonishing Hungarian Darts Trophy final on Sunday.
Chisnall - who also denied Humphries in European Tour deciders at the Baltic Sea Darts Open and Dutch Darts Championship earlier this year - completed the hat-trick in Budapest to cap off a thrilling weekend of action.
Humphries looked poised to triumph at the MVM Dome after moving 7-5 ahead with his first big stage nine-darter - the first on the European Tour since Chisnall's perfect leg at last year's Belgian Darts Open.
However, Chisnall fought back brilliantly, reeling off the last three legs without reply and surviving a match dart in an extraordinary finale to pocket the £30,000 top prize with a 104.82 average.
"I would love to play Luke in every final! He is a phenomenal dart player," reflected Chisnall, who has now won six European Tour titles in five different countries.
"I'm so happy to win the tournament, but full credit to Luke. He's been playing with an injury all day.
"I threw everything at him and he just kept fighting back. I couldn't get rid of him! It was a fantastic final."
Chisnall's victory in Budapest has seen him establish a 20,000 pound lead over Humphries at the top of the European Tour Order of Merit, with just one event remaining in Hildesheim next month.
The 43-year-old looks set be the top seed at October's European Championship in Dortmund, as he continues his bid for an elusive televised title over the coming months.
"I always fancy my chances to win a TV title," added Chisnall, who missed double 12 for a nine-darter of his own earlier in the evening.
"I've missed lots of opportunities [in the past] and you can't do that at this level, but I'm going to carry on and keep believing. I will win one!"
Top seed Chisnall began Finals Day with a thumping win over Rowby-John Rodriguez, before defying a ton-plus average from Michael van Gerwen to prevail in a compelling quarter-final tie.
Chisnall then thwarted a late fightback from surprise package Scott Williams to win a dramatic semi-final, landing six 180s and averaging almost 101 to set up a showdown against Humphries.
Humphries drew first blood in Sunday's showpiece with a majestic 170 checkout - his second of the evening - and he capitalised on his strong start to move into a 3-1 lead.
Chisnall responded with back-to-back 12-darters to level at three apiece, and he continued his blistering form with a 146 checkout in leg nine to edge 5-4 ahead.
Humphries then enjoyed a sparkling spell of his own, restoring parity at five apiece before following up a 12-dart break on the bull with his roof-raising nine-darter to move to the cusp of victory.
The pendulum swung yet again as Chisnall won consecutive legs to force a decider, and he sealed the deal via double 16, but only after Humphries had missed double 12 for another incredible 141 finish.
Humphries had battled through the pain of a back spasm to feature in his sixth European Tour final of 2023, producing a string of sensational performances in the Hungarian capital.
The 28-year-old averaged 108 in his demolition of Keane Barry on Saturday, and he kicked off Sunday's action with another devastating display, averaging 106 to sweep aside Martin Schindler 6-1.
Humphries posted another ton-plus average to whitewash Luke Woodhouse in the last eight, before averaging 103 and landing seven 180s in his semi-final success against Gerwyn Price.
"If you had told me this morning that I would have got to the final I wouldn't have believed you," conceded Humphries, who has remarkably featured in 10 of the last 20 European Tour finals.
"I need to give credit to myself because I really battled hard today. If that dart at double 12 had gone in, this probably would have been one of the greatest games I've ever played.
"I had the 170, the nine-darter. I gave it everything and although tiredness was creeping in, I still put up a great fight with five ton-plus averages this weekend.
"I just could not shake Chizzy off. What a player he is. If he finds this form on a TV stage he will win one, and he's a player that deserves to win one."
Despite losing out to Humphries in a high-quality last four tussle, Price impressed in his run to the semi-finals, overcoming Joe Cullen and Damon Heta at the MVM Dome.
The Welshman converted all six of his attempts at double to see off reigning champion Cullen in the last 16, and he then fought back from 5-1 down to stun Heta in a thrilling quarter-final tussle.
Price was joined in the semi-finals by Williams, who recorded deciding-leg wins over Danny Noppert and Mike De Decker to celebrate his best showing on the European Tour stage.
Elsewhere, Woodhouse' run to a maiden European Tour quarter-final was enough to secure his place in the upcoming World Grand Prix, at the expense of Gian van Veen.
Dutch prospect Van Veen was in the provisional qualification places ahead of Sunday's action, but his last 16 defeat against Heta saw him miss out on a double-start debut.
Heta then suffered a dramatic quarter-final exit, bowing out at the same stage as Van Gerwen and Mike De Decker, who dumped out World Champion Michael Smith earlier in the afternoon.
The PDC European Tour season will conclude with the German Darts Championship in Hildesheim next month, as 48 players compete across three days of action from October 13-15.
The tournament will be broadcast live on Viaplay, DAZN and PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and through bookmakers' websites worldwide.