Leonard Gates deservedly took home his second Seniors title, beating Richie Howson 6-2 in the final of the World Seniors Darts Masters. The dancing soulger told BT Sport “I’m lost for words. It’s a pleasure being here and I’m just overwhelmed right now.” Holding the beautiful trophy aloft Gates compared it to a cake “I just wanna cut a big slice of it” he laughed. Both iterations of this tournament have led to the trophy heading across the Atlantic after David Cameron’s success in 2022. A word for silver medalist Richie Howson too, who now has lost 3 major finals in the Seniors, let’s hope he can take solace that he keeps putting himself in the position to get over the line. Gates meanwhile better not dance too late into the night, he needs to be in Portsmouth first thing tomorrow morning for the Modus League!
Here’s how it was won.
Leg 1- It’s Howson who has the darts and he leads us off with a ton. Gates is behind but a maximum puts Howson under pressure. He twitches on the double and Gates clears up a D10. 0-1
Leg 2- It’s very close throughout but Gates gets to the finish first and tidies up a 31 with a 15/D8 to take the set comfortably. 0-2 & THE SET (GATES 1-0)
Leg 1 – Gates in again with a 180, looking super confident, he’s at a double first and notches it first time. Easy street for the American 1-0
Leg 2- Howson is coming up short when looking for the lipstick, losing his form at the oche and the head shaking has begun. Again Gates eats up the 501 and easily claims the leg on D18. 2-0 & THE SET. (GATES 2-0)
Leg 1- Ton for Richie but Gates is again off with a 140, unaffected by the break. He takes the darts and gets to a double first but misses and Howson is finally on the board; he needed that one. 1-0
Leg 2- Howson has 2x 140 against the throw and it’s pressure on the Gates throw for the first time. The Owl takes D16 and he’s back in business. 2-0 & THE SET. (GATES 2-1)
Leg 1- Howson has 3 clear darts to break at 32 but blows it. Gates only needs one dart, D16 is nailed and he wrests control once more. 1-0
Leg 2- Nip and tuck all the way but with Gates handy, Howson tidies a lovely 80 checkout. The first set to go to a decider. 1-1
Leg 3- Gates gets a heavy lead and sensibly avoids a pop at the bull, favouring 18 to leave 32. It’s good to him and again he gets it first dart. Everything is working like clockwork for the swaggering American. 2-1 & THE SET. (GATES 3-1)
Leg 1- Gates has spent the break dancing with the crowd, not the sign of a man under huge pressure. Howson leads out with a 60, still looking tight, body language couldn’t be more different. Gates mops up an 80 to break. 0-1
Leg 2- Wolfie in the crowd, enjoying this final like the rest of us. Howson has an outside pop at 101 for a steal, but misses the double. Gates unusually misses 2 at tops and Richie breaks back. 1-1
Leg 3- Buoyed by that steal, Howson leads out with a 140. Keeps his nose in front across the leg and looks for 68 for the set. Nails it! 2-1 & THE SET (GATES 3-2)
Leg 1- This doesn’t feel like a close game but the set format dictates it is. Gates wants to lay a marker and goes for the bull finish when Howson is on 287, which he misses. He then faffs on a double which leads to unnecessary drama. Finally clears up D2. 1-0
Leg 2- Gates 3rd 180 and he has stolen the darts after one visit. Gates struggling to count on his 121 outshot but no damage is done as Howson fails on Shanghai. It’s tops again for Soulger. 2-0 & THE SET (GATES 4-2)
Leg 1- Final break done and the crowd are showing best of order as the darts are being thrown, engrossed in the action. Gates is first to a finish but it’s a biggie- 161- and he falls short. Howson takes a morale boosting T15/D8. 1-0
Leg 2- Howson has his first 180 and it’s against the throw. Follows it up with a 140 as his arm looks more free, shoulders released. D8 lets him down this time but Gates fails on 88. It’s a mess for Howson though and Gates steals a D7. A dagger in the heart. 1-1
Leg 3- Howson back in with a max then a 140, unbelievable. His scoring has hit a purple patch. An 11 darter chance missed as is 12, 13, 14 & 15. Gates still miles back but Howson misses again and again, 11 missed at double in one leg! Soulger steps in and steals! Key leg, surely? 1-2 & THE SET (GATES 5-2)
Leg 1- Colour has drained from Howson’s face after that sickening set. Gates holds his throw on D2 and is within one leg of victory.
Leg 2- 140 for Gates and he’s stolen the darts again. Howson resigned to his fate? He still has a spark with a 140 of his own and then nails a 102 to put his doubling woes to one side. 1-1
Leg 3- This is the big chance for Gates as he leads out. 2 treble visit for both players, Howson finds it again though and Gates is behind. Howson misses a dart for a 12 dart steal. Gates has match darts but misses two! Howson falters again and surely this time? Yes, D4 is taken and Gates is the Master! 2-1 & THE SET (GATES 6-2)
Dennis Harbour’s ship has finally sailed as he bowed out at the semi-final stage of the World Seniors Darts Masters to Richie Howson. After disposing of Wolfie and the Power in R1 & R2 Dennis was harbouring title ambitions but he faltered in the furnace like conditions in Yeovil. If it was a race to 5, you’d have to say it was a walking race as the play was slow, deliberate but absolutely absorbing. Sharing the first 4 sets, it had the feeling of another tie going all the way. However, a dip in Harbour’s form, potentially caused by an elbow complaint, combined with Howson making a lunge for the line had him taking 3 sets in a row for a 5-2 win. Speaking to BT afterwards Howson admitted “I’ve really not played well this weekend, I’ve scraped through and had a bit of luck. I need to up my scoring for the final”
The Soulger Leonard Gates booked his place in the final with a 5-2 win over Robert Thornton who was seeking the Senior triple crown. Robert averaged over 100 for most of the match, but Leonard picked the perfect times to attack. The 6th set felt like the turning point, Thornton wiring a D5 before Leonard stepped up and hit the very same target. It was a case of double trouble throughout for Robert who gesticulated wildly each time he missed. The trebles flowed but as we all know the doubles are for dough and he came up dry over and over again. Since Gates has joined the Senior tour it is he who could easily be described as the Thorn, in the side of everyone else.