Dragutin Horvat secured his spot at the 2023/24 Paddy Power World Darts Championship after storming to an 8-3 success over Pascal Rupprecht in Friday’s Hylo PDC Europe Super League final in Bitburg.
Horvat performed superbly to clinch his second PDC Europe Super League title and book his Alexandra Palace return, seven years after making his bow in the sport’s flagship event.
The 47-year-old moved through to a record fifth PDC Europe Super League final with victories over Nico Kurz and Lukas Wenig on Finals Day, before dispatching debutant Rupprecht in a one-sided affair.
Horvat was one of only two former champions featuring in Finals Day, and he defeated the other to seal his spot in the semi-finals, closing out a resounding 6-2 success against two-time winner Nico Kurz.
The 2016 champion then won through a gruelling semi-final showdown against Lukas Wenig, registering the game’s solitary break of throw in leg 12 to set up a showdown against Rupprecht.
Rupprecht, who secured his PDC Tour Card at European Qualifying School in January, was bidding to lift the coveted title on debut, and he made a confident start to the decider with a comfortable hold of throw.
However, Horvat responded with a terrific five-leg spell to seize control of the contest, producing 13 and 14-dart breaks to race 5-1 ahead and edge closer to an Alexandra Palace return.
Rupprecht stopped the rot in leg seven to double his tally, although Horvat was undeterred, replying with another 14-darter to restore his four-leg buffer.
The veteran German then moved to the cusp of victory with a classy 115 checkout to make it 7-3, before punishing two missed darts at tops by Rupprecht to seal the deal via double eight.
Horvat, also a winner on the Winmau Challenge Tour back in March, will make his long-awaited World Championship return next month, seven years after succumbing to Australian icon Simon Whitlock on debut.
Rupprecht can still join his compatriot at the World Championship if he wins through the Tour Card Holder Qualifier on November 27, despite falling just short in his bid for glory on home soil.
The 23-year-old averaged 97 in his last 16 demolition of Arno Merk on Thursday, and he maintained his fine form to dispatch fellow Tour Card Holder Daniel Klose 6-2 in the last eight.
Rupprecht then recovered from a sluggish start to see off Kai Gotthardt in the semi-finals, winning seven of the last nine legs to triumph 7-4; aided by clinical 128 and 94 finishes.
Gotthardt claimed a host of high-profile scalps in his run to the last four, dumping out Germany’s former number one Max Hopp in the last 16.
The 28-year-old then celebrated a quarter-final victory over last year’s runner-up Niko Springer, who landed a spectacular nine-darter in the round-robin phase on Tuesday’s opening day.
In the other last eight clash, Wenig breezed to a whitewash win over a struggling Dominik Grüllich, before his 12-match winning run in Bitburg was curtailed by Horvat in the last four.