James Wade has praised the Portsmouth crowd for creating an ‘amazing’ atmosphere at the Night of Champions on Friday.
The former PDC UK Open winner was blown away by the spectators who packed into the Guildhall for the Modus Darts event.
Having featured in The Untouchables competition at the Pyramids in the past, Wade had some idea of the welcome the players would receive on the south coast.
But after securing the runners-up spot behind Michael van Gerwen – following a dramatic final – the Aldershot player admitted the fans had exceeded his expectations.
Wade said: ‘They were amazing.
‘The fans were great, as always, and very interactive.
‘Darts is all about a family crowd and people having fun.’
World number one van Gerwen was the star attraction and showed his class on the night.
The Dutchman took on Petersfield Academy product, 18-year-old Jason Dearlove, before the main event.
Unfortunately for Dearlove, the PDC world champion proved too good and comfortably beat him 4-0 in legs after less than 15 minutes of action.
Van Gerwen showed a similar dominant performance in the quarter-finals as he took on Andy Jenkins – dropping just one leg in a 4-1 triumph over the Cosham man.
Former BDO World Masters champion Robert Thornton was then next on the Dutchman’s hit list.
Much like Dearlove, Thornton also failed to win a leg in the semi-final as he crashed to a 4-0 defeat.
Wade had a similar path to the final as the Dutchman.
He comfortably defeated veteran Scot Les Wallace 4-1 in the last eight.
The semi-final saw him lock horns with Andover’s Arron Monk.
Monk, who is a former world under-21 champion and reached the last 16 of the PDC Grand Slam of Darts two years ago, proved more of a challenge for Wade.
However, Wade claimed his place in the final with a 4-2 win.
He was delighted to book a clash with van Gerwen but admitted it was simply nice to play without the usual pressure of a ranking tournament.
‘It’s not an intense, official tournament so you can have some fun,’ said the three-time World Championship semi-finalist.
‘Everyone who plays in this wants to win it but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t.
‘It’s good but on a smaller ratio to the Premier League. I was just here to have a good time.’
Wade started strongly in the final – at one point taking a 3-1 lead over van Gerwen.
However, with the crowd on the Dutchman’s side, it always seemed likely there would be a comeback.
And so it proved, as van Gerwen powered back to claim the Night of Champions title 4-3 – completing the victory with a 10-dart.
After winning the event, the current Premier League champion said: ‘It was a pleasure to be in Portsmouth.
‘I hope the crowd all enjoyed the night.’