When Welshman Jonny Clayton won the Professional Darts Corporation World Series of Darts Finals in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on October 31st, it was his fourth major title of 2021. The 47-year-old, nicknamed ‘The Ferret’ first tasted success at the World Cup of Darts in November 2020, when he teamed up with fellow Welshman Gerwyn Price. We now take a look at his five major title victories, all accomplished within a year.
Clayton partnered with Gerwyn Price to represent Wales in the PDC World Cup of Darts in Salzburg, Austria, and were the number two seeds behind England. Jonny took out a 130 checkout finish as the Welsh pair easily defeated Russia five-nil, before taking out the defending, but unseeded, champions Scotland in the next round, where Clayton lost his singles match, but progressed through with a victory in the doubles.
He then produced his best darts in the semi-final and final, where he averaged over 104 in both his singles victories. The final saw the top two seeds meeting with Wales taking on the number one seeds England. It was mostly one-way traffic as Clayton and Price won three-nil.
Clayton entered the 2021 Masters as the 18th ranked player, out of 24 players competing in the tournament. However, after four consecutive deciding-leg victories, Jonny entered the final against 20th seed Mervyn King, where he won 11-8 to secure his first major television title as a singles player, averaging 104 and winning six legs in a row from 5-3 down.
His route to the final was a staggering one ; beating Jose de Sousa 6-5, with a final leg 130 checkout, Michael van Gerwen 10-9, with two 180s in the deciding leg, James Wade 10-9, with ten doubles out of 11 attempts and from 9-6 down, and then in the last four, Peter Wright 11-10. He averaged over 104 in his last three games.
By winning the Masters, Clayton qualified for the Premier League, and after progressing to the play-offs, he defeated van Gerwen 10-8 in the semi-final by winning the final three legs, and then another league debutant, de Sousa, 11-5 in the final. Jonny led throughout the match and averaged just over a 100, picking up his biggest prize of £250,000! It was an incredible performance from the Welshman in his first season in the PL, winning eight of his 16 matches and securing the vital fourth spot in the table.
His best wins came against de Sousa (7-3), Gary Anderson (7-4), van Gerwen (7-3), James Wade (8-5), Anderson (8-1), and Dimitri Van den Bergh (8-6), in the final night of qualifying. His consistency meant he averaged over 99 in his league campaign.
In October 2021, Jonny Clayton won his first ranking title when, despite coming in at a lowly ranking of 14, he beat his Welsh team-mate Gerwyn Price in the final of the World Grand Prix. His toughest match came in the quarter-finals, when he defeated Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski 3-2 after trailing 2-1, before easily winning against Danny Noppert in the semis with an average of 94.
The final against Price was also a stroll, winning 5-1 after leading three-nil, and winning the final two sets 3 legs to one. He had amazing finishes of 170, 164, 152, 110, and 116 to scoop up the £110,000 winner’s cheque. This moved him to seventh in the PDC rankings.
To cap a memorable year, Clayton then triumphed in the World Series of Darts Finals, this time coming in as the fourth seed. Held in Amsterdam, Holland, Jonny defeated two of the home favourites, Vincent van der Voort and Michael van Gerwen easily, in reaching another major final.
His toughest match was against Welsh compatriot Price, eclipsing the world number one 10-9 in the quarter-final. The final was again a much easier affair for the Welsh star beating Belgium’s Dimitri Van den Bergh 11-6 with a 101 average, and concluding the match with finishes of 103, 121, and 96.