Dave Chisnall was edged out by eventual finalist Raymond van Barneveld at the Unibet Masters on Friday night.
The Morecambe ace lost 10-8 at the Arena MK in a battle for former finalists at the event in the tournament’s opening game.
Chisnall, the number seven seed, pulled back a four-leg deficit at one stage only to be knocked out at the death.
A high-quality opening saw the first four legs shared before Van Barneveld, aided by a break of throw with a 14-darter and a 13-dart leg - took three successive legs to move 5-2 up.
He extended that lead to 7-3 with the aid of a 130 finish and a 96 combination, only for Chisnall to respond superbly by claiming four straight legs to level in 14, 12, 14 and 14 darts.
The next three legs were shared as Van Barneveld moved to the brink of victory at 9-8, before Chisnall landed his eighth 180 of the game in a brilliant 11-darter to force a deciding leg.
Chisnall added another maximum score, but was unable to finish 88 as Van Barneveld returned from a missed bull to land double eight for the win.
“Dave came back fantastically but when he got back to seven-all I knew that I just had to win my own legs and I did that,” said van Barneveld after his victory.
“He’s a class player and to me still belongs in the Premier League so he has to fight back.”
In the final Michael van Gerwen fought back from 4-1 and 8-5 down to win his fourth successive Unibet Masters title with a thrilling 11-9 win over van Barneveld at Arena MK on Sunday night.
The Dutchman has reigned supreme in the battle of the PDC’s top 16 players for the past three years, but saw his mantle come under serious threat as the five-time World Champion lined up his first individual TV title since 2015.