Championship League Darts: 3rd time lucky for Walsh
MARK WALSH defeated Steve Beaton 6-5 in the final of Championship League Darts' Group Eight to claim the last spot in Thursday's big-money Winners Group of the internet-streamed tournament.
Walsh has lost in two previous group finals this season but sealed his place alongside the likes of Phil Taylor, Simon Whitlock and Wes Newton with the narrowest of victories over Beaton.
In another dramatic day of action, Dutchman Michael van Gerwen finished at the top of the league table following the round-robin group stage only to lose in the semi-finals - although he did create a piece of history along the way.
Van Gerwen averaged an incredible 121.86 in a 6-0 whitewash of Beaton during the league phase which took only eight minutes and 15 seconds to complete as he restricted the former World Champion to just one dart at a double.
However, Beaton would gain revenge with a superb semi-final display to claim a 6-5 win, finishing 94 on the bullseye to progress to the decider.
Walsh defeated Robert Thornton 6-2 in the other semi-final, with the Scot - who finished second to van Gerwen on leg difference in the league stage after taking six wins from seven games - sharing the first four legs before the Hertfordhire man took four in a row, including an 11-darter, to take victory.
Walsh then overcame Beaton in the tighest of finals which saw the lead change hands three times.
Beaton took the opener on tops before Walsh hit the same bed twice to lead 2-1, only for Beaton to add a 180 and double five to edge a tense fourth leg and level.
Walsh finished 78 to win the fifth and punished four misses from Beaton to move 4-2 up, only for the Warwickshire thrower to finish double 18 and double eight to level and then take out 100 for a 14-darter to lead 5-4.
Beaton then missed double 12 for a 141 finish for the match as Walsh posted double 16 to force a decider, in which he was first to a finish when needing 161.
Although he could not take out the combination, he left 24 and when Beaton missed the bull to take out 121, Walsh returned to hit double 12 for the win to seal his Winners Group place.
"It's been a very hard week but I've been playing good darts and luckily enough I got through," said Walsh.
"I've always got belief in myself that came through. It's very hard in the group games, and [yesterday] there was only leg difference between going out or being in the semis, so I'm happy with what I've done.
"It's a fantastic tournament and it would be a great title to win on Thursday."
Van Gerwen lost just one of his seven league games on the day, going down 6-5 to Thornton in his opener, while the Scot was only defeated by Beaton in the round-robin section.
The race for semi-final places went all the way to the dramatic final round of games, with Walsh's win over Peter Wright opening the door for Beaton to defeat Paul Nicholson and jump above the colourful Scottish World Cup star.
Wright won three of his league games, while Nicholson and Dolan claimed two victories apiece, but UK Open semi-finalist Denis Ovens lost all seven matches on the day.
The Winners Group will give Walsh the chance to atone for his defeats to Phil Taylor in the Group Four final and Dave Chisnall in the Group Six final when he lines up to contest for the £10,000 first prize.
Group One winner Wes Newton, Group Two champion Justin Pipe, Group Three victor Ronnie Baxter, Group Five conqueror Simon Whitlock and Tuesday's Group Seven champion Jamie Caven are also in action.
Prize money increases to £100 per leg in the league phase and £200 per leg in the play-offs, with additional prize money of £2,500 for the losing semi-finalists, £5,000 for the runner-up and £10,000 for the eventual winner paid out.
The finalists would also qualify to compete in the William Hill Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhamton from November 10-18, giving a final chance for Pipe, Chisnall, Baxter and Caven to win through to that event.
Championship League Darts is screened exclusively live worldwide through LIVEPDC.TV and a series of 50 bookmakers' websites worldwide.
All LIVEPDC.TV Subscribers will be able to watch live coverage from Championship League Darts, featuring play in the league stage simultaneously on two boards. Highlights are also available in LIVEPDC.TV.
Championship League Darts
Group Eight Results
Board One Board Two
Mark Walsh 6-4 Paul Nicholson Peter Wright 6-2 Steve Beaton
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Denis Ovens Robert Thornton 6-5 Michael Van Gerwen
Steve Beaton 4-6 Mark Walsh Paul Nicholson 6-4 Peter Wright
Michael Van Gerwen 6-5 Brendan Dolan Denis Ovens 1-6 Robert Thornton
Steve Beaton 6-2 Robert Thornton Mark Walsh 6-1 Denis Ovens
Michael Van Gerwen 6-3 Peter Wright Paul Nicholson 1-6 Brendan Dolan
Robert Thornton 6-4 Mark Walsh Steve Beaton 6-2 Denis Ovens
Paul Nicholson 3-6 Michael Van Gerwen Peter Wright 6-3 Brendan Dolan
Peter Wright 5-6 Robert Thornton Brendan Dolan 4-6 Mark Walsh
Denis Ovens 2-6 Paul Nicholson Michael Van Gerwen 6-0! Steve Beaton
Brendan Dolan 3-6 Steve Beaton Paul Nicholson 2-6 Robert Thornton
Denis Ovens 3-6 Peter Wright Mark Walsh 3-6 Michael Van Gerwen
Michael Van Gerwen 6-3 Denis Ovens Robert Thornton 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Peter Wright 3-6 Mark Walsh Steve Beaton 6-5 Paul Nicholson
Michael van Gerwen 5-6 Steve Beaton Robert Thornton 2-6 Mark Walsh
Steve Beaton 5-6 Mark Walsh
Final League Table & Prize Money
Pl W L Won Lost Leg +/- £Won Pts £Total
Michael van Gerwen 7 6 1 41 23 +18 £2050 12 £2550
Robert Thornton 7 6 1 38 27 +11 £1900 12 £2100
Mark Walsh 7 5 2 37 28 +9 £1850 10 £3050
Steve Beaton 7 4 3 30 30 0 £1500 8 £2600
Peter Wright 7 3 4 33 32 +1 £1650 6
Brendan Dolan 7 25 31 34 -3 £1550 4
Paul Nicholson 7 2 5 27 36 -9 £1350 4
Denis Ovens 7 0 7 15 42 -27 £750 0