James Wade thrilled a UK record 12,000 crowd in Manchester to claim his first Cazoo Premier League night win of 2022 with a superb display on Thursday night.
The 2009 Premier League champion has been denied in three previous finals during the nine weeks of this season so far, but bounced back in style to finally scoop a £10,000 winner’s bonus.
Wade was in clinical form throughout the night as he finished 6/11 doubles in wins over Gary Anderson and Gerwyn Price – both by a 6-2 scoreline – as he reached the final.
There, he enjoyed a see-saw battle with Cullen in front of a packed AO Arena crowd before claiming a dramatic win in a deciding leg.
Cullen raced into a 2-0 lead as he sought a second victory of his debut season, opening with a 14-dart break of throw and then taking out 107.
Wade, though, produced legs of 13, 14 and 14 darts to edge ahead, before the pair traded the next five with brilliant darts as the final went all the way.
With the advantage of throw, Wade was first to a finish in the decider and took out 64 on tops to complete the win – averaging 105.48 and finishing six doubles from nine attempts.
“I’ve done it at last – I’m super happy!” said Wade, who was the runner-up in Belfast, Birmingham and Leeds.
“You’re playing against, in my opinion, the eight best players in the world every week, and it’s hard work. If you hit a 60 at the wrong time, you get bashed.
“I nearly gave it away on two occasions there but I was fortunate enough and I prevailed. I think I was the better player so it was all good.
“I’m trying as hard as anyone, probably harder than most people, and I believe I’m one of the best. I’m here for a reason.
“I’m enjoying myself, playing good darts at times. I’m playing against the best eight players in the world, which is an honour for me.
“I feel I’m mixing with them and I’m glad to be here. I’m so nervous up there but at times I’m close to my best game.”
Cullen was bidding to add to his win in the Rotterdam final recently with a second nightly win, with the bumper Manchester crowd making the most of his “Don’t look back in anger” walk-on song by local stars Oasis.
The Masters champion finished six doubles from nine attempts in a superb 6-2 quarter-final defeat of Michael Smith, before seeing off Jonny Clayton 6-3 in the semi-finals.
Clayton had booked his spot in the last four by surviving two missed match darts from Michael van Gerwen in a thrilling quarter-final, averaging 109 to the Dutchman’s 105 in arguably the match of the season so far.
Price had edged out World Champion Peter Wright 6-4 in the quarter-finals to pick up his first Premier League win for four weeks in the night’s opening tie.
Wade’s success moves him up to third in the league table, above Wright, while Cullen is three points adrift of the top four as the race for Play-Off places intensifies.
The Cazoo Premier League season continues next Thursday with a return to P&J Live in Aberdeen, where Scottish heroes Anderson and Wright open up against Clayton and Cullen respectively.
Wade then plays Smith before Price takes on Van Gerwen in a mouth-watering quarter-final.
Coverage will be broadcast from 1900 BST through Sky Sports in the UK & Ireland, through the PDC’s global broadcast partners including DAZN and Viaplay and through PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.
2022 Cazoo Premier League
Night Ten – AO Arena, Manchester
Thursday April 14
Peter Wright 4-6 Gerwyn Price
Gary Anderson 2-6 James Wade
Michael van Gerwen 5-6 Jonny Clayton
Joe Cullen 6-2 Michael Smith
Gerwyn Price 2-6 James Wade
Jonny Clayton 3-6 Joe Cullen
James Wade 6-5 Joe Cullen
Night 11 – P&J Live, Aberdeen
Thursday April 21
Jonny Clayton v Gary Anderson
Peter Wright v Joe Cullen
James Wade v Michael Smith
Gerwyn Price v Michael van Gerwen
Images: Simon O’Connor / PDC
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