The qualifiers for the third and fourth PDC European Tour events of 2018 took place at the Barnsley Metrodome on Friday evening. In the qualifier for ET3 in Saarbrucken, Josh took on an experienced professional in John Bowles. It was a rollercoaster of a match, Payne found himself 4-1 down early on, but managed to win five legs on-the-spin to move 5-4 ahead. But, Bowles came battling back to force a deciding leg, and take the decider with JP waiting on D12 for the win.
In the qualifier for ET4, Payne got off to a much better start, the Kent-based sensation was involved in yet another 11-leg thriller in a reverse in fortunes from his previous match as he edged out Luke Woodhouse 6-5. Then in his second match, he faced the World championship Semi-Finalist Jamie Lewis, Payne produced some terrific legs of darts as he edged out the Welshman 6-4. Josh wired the bull for a 170 finish in the very first leg, he raced into a 2-0 lead early on, but Lewis replied to even the contest up at 2-2. But, Payne was always in the driving seat as he produced some solid legs of darts on throw to secure the win. In his third and final match to qualify for ET4, Payne came up against Richie Burnett. The Kent ace came from 3-0 down to level the match up at 3-3. But, despite going 5-4 down, Payne forced an eleventh and deciding leg, but it was Burnett who prevailed as he held throw in the decider. Overall, Payne played some solid stuff, he just needed more luck at the right times.
PDC Players Championship 3-4 took place on Saturday and Sunday in Barnsley, Payne faced Wayne Jones in his opening match on Saturday. It didn’t really go Josh’s way in that particular encounter as he lost out 6-1 to Jones. The West Midlands man had to average over 100 to complete the victory. Sometimes in darts, a defeat like that can knock a players belief and confidence, but that doesn’t apply to Josh Payne.
In Sundays event, Payne responded perfectly to his early exit on Saturday. In his first match, Josh came up against Joe Murnan. Payne edged out the Bolton man 6-5 in a terrific battle. JP produced a solid 15-dart leg in the decider. In the early stages, Payne led 4-2 and 5-4, but Murnan forced an eleventh and deciding leg as Payne showed great composure to book his place in round two.
In round two, Payne produced another fine display as he defeated Jermaine Wattimena in another (yes, another) last-leg decider. Payne fought from 4-2 behind to level the match up at 4-4. Then, Wattimena moved 5-4 ahead, only for Josh to take out 68 to force an eleventh and deciding leg against the darts. Then, in the decider – JP kicked off with back-to-back 140’s which culminated in a 14-darter as Payne booked his place in the board final.
In that board final, Josh took on Simon Stevenson, and the way that Payne’s matches have gone on the day, It’s quite fitting that the match went to a deciding leg. Payne won his third last-leg decider on-the-spin as he edged out Stevenson 6-5 to book his place in the last 16. Payne produced some phenomenal darts to see the match out, a 171 earlier in the final leg was followed by a crucial D16 as he ended the match with a 14-darter.
In the last 16, Payne came up against the former two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis, unfortunately JP’s fantastic run came to an unfortunate end as he suffered a 6-3 defeat to Lewis. Payne moved 1-0 & 2-1 ahead, but Lewis moved into a 4-2 lead, and Payne was always chasing the match from then on. It was a tightly contested match with JP averaging well over 90, but Adrian Lewis just hit the right finishes at the crucial points in the match which included a 120 finish while JP was waiting on a double. It’s been a fantastic run for Payne and everyone involved whether it be friends, family, sponsors or fans in general.