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Neil Duff overcame a slow start to defeat Thibault Tricole in an 11-set thriller to win the 2022 WDF Men’s World Championship at Lakeside.
‘The Duffman’ had been the more impressive player, statistically speaking, going into the final but he made a slow start, averaging just 76 as he dropped the first two sets without winning a leg.
He stopped the rot in the third, nicking it 3-1 and halving the deficit after Tricole had missed a dart to take out 112 and level the set.
Tricole was able to re-establish his two set cushion by taking the fourth 3-0 before Duff finally found his range, winning three on the spin to make it 4-3 and move into the lead for the first time.
Duff produced 11 and 12-darters in the eighth set, the latter ending with a brilliant 121 finish, but couldn’t take it out, Tricole holding in 13 to make it all-square going into the final break.
Duff, the first Northern Irish player to contest a World Championship final, produced a brilliant three-leg burst, including a 111 checkout, to win the ninth set from 2-0 down and go 5-4 up and within one of victory.
‘The French Touch’, who’d survived eight match darts earlier in the week, wouldn’t go away without a fight though, forcing a deciding set by comfortably winning the tenth 3-0.
He couldn’t maintain that standard in the final set though, going 2-0 down before missing a dart at double 12 to keep his title hopes alive. Duff, like he has all week, pounced, hitting tops at the second attempt to take out 50 for the title.
Now the WDF World No.1, Duff finished with an 87.73 average and six 180s. Tricole, who was the first Frenchman to play in a televised darts final, also threw six maximums and ended with an 86.95 average.