ADRIAN Gray won the opening event in a tournament circuit to decide the world’s best soft-tip darts player.
The St Leonards-based thrower was triumphant in stage one of a series known simply as The World 2014 in Macau last weekend.
Matches were played over the best of five legs. Two of the first four were played under the 701 format and the other two under ‘standard cricket’, and the decider, if required, was chosen.
In a field of more than 200 players, Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) star Gray breezed through the early rounds, tactically outplaying the locals on the cricket and power scoring his way through the 701 with a succession of high tons.
As Gray reached the last eight, he met Morihiro Hashimoto - the man who ended his world title hopes last year. Gray started off well by winning the 701 only for Hashimoto to bounce straight back. At 2-2 Gray won the bull and cricket was chosen. Gray outwitted his Japanese foe to avenge last year’s disappointment and move into the last four.
He then faced a former finalist, big Croatian thrower Boris Krcmar. After Krcmar took the opening leg of 701, Gray produced some stunning darts to triumph 3-1 and make his first final where he was up against home favourite Yuji Eguchi.
With the score at 2-1 to Gray, it was nip and tuck on the 701 game. After Eguchi stuttered on his 101, Gray stepped in with a finish of 101 (bull, 17, double 17) to secure the title.
The top eight players in The World 2014 series - which has four more events scheduled for later this year in France, China, Japan and the USA - will earn the right to play in a competition known as Super Darts.