Michael van Gerwen continued his dominance on the European Tour in 2015, whitewashing Justin Pipe 6-0 to win the Dutch Darts Masters in Venray. Roared on by a boisterous home crowd, van Gerwen survived scares against both Mervyn King and Terry Jenkins to secure his fourth European Tour title of the year.
The 25-year-old Dutchman produced the performance of the tournament in his mouth-watering last 16 clash against Premier League rival Dave Chisnall. Van Gerwen progressed with a 6-3 victory, clinching victory with a stunning 164 checkout.
He posted an average of 114.70, defying a 167 checkout from Chisnall, who averaged 103.81himself. It was the latest instalment of an intriguing rivalry that is developing between the pair; both are prolific scorers capable of huge combination finishes, which was evidenced on Sunday afternoon.
MvG’s quarter-final against Mervyn King was an equally challenging affair, albeit without the explosive scoring of his last 16 battle. King had survived two match-darts in his last 16 contest against Simon Whitlock and performed as tenaciously as usual against the Dutchman. Although Mervyn only posted a modest 89 average, MvG only held a slender 5-4 advantage; however he wrapped up victory with a scintillating 170 finish to spark jubilant scenes from the Venray crowd.
The crowd would play a pivotal role in van Gerwen’s 6-5 victory over Terry Jenkins in the semi-finals. The pair contested the second European Tour final of 2015 in Gibraltar and Jenkins seemed poised to gain revenge in dramatic fashion. The pair were locked at 5-5 and MvG had the advantage of throw in the decider, however ‘Bully Bully’ threw 6 perfect darts at the start of the leg, to leave him on the verge of victory, with the potential of a 9-darter. Jenks was unable to complete the perfect leg, but was poised on 76 after MvG narrowly missed 150 for a rip-roaring finish.
However, as Terry approached the oche, the crowd, who had behaved impeccably throughout the tournament, decided to intervene. The boos and whistles became more audible dart-by-dart and Jenkins subsequently missed one dart at D20 for a memorable win. Van Gerwen capitalised on this good fortune, pinning D4 for a 14-darter and a place in the final. It was a high-quality contest, with both men averaging 105. Although home advantage inevitably instigated the crowd’s favouritism, it was disappointing to see such a great professional like Jenkins, given so little respect from the spectators.
Nevertheless, in the final, MvG would face World Number 15 Justin Pipe, who battled through illness to reach the final in Venray. Pipe didn’t perform at his best throughout the day, but demonstrated his trademark battling qualities to reach the third European Tour final of his career. He averaged 84 in beating Nathan Aspinall 6-4 in the last 16, before beating fellow young pretender Josh Payne by the same scoreline in the quarter-finals.
Pipe faced Jamie Caven in the semi-finals. Caven had edged out David Pallett 6-5 in the last 16 on Sunday afternoon, before recording an emphatic 6-2 victory over an erratic Kim Huybrechts in the quarters. However, Caven was unable to replicate this level of performance in the semis, as Pipe battled to another 6-4 triumph. Pipe only recorded an 87 average, but it was simply about the result for the Taunton ace.
He will be disappointed with his performance in the final, as he struggled for rhythm and consistency, particularly on the T20 bed. He only had the solitary dart at a double in the entire contest, as he missed the bull for a 126 and a break of throw in the opening leg. Nevertheless, van Gerwen grew in confidence as the encounter progressed and although his scoring was far from scintillating; his 60% ratio on the doubles was extremely impressive.
Considering he was feeling unwell, it was a commendable effort from Pipe to reach the final. He has enjoyed a solid start to 2015 on the Pro Tour and this may be the platform he requires to kick-on and perform well in the upcoming major tournaments. It’s great to see Justin competing in the latter stages of tournaments once again.
Whilst Pipe’s attention turns to the upcoming tour events and the World Matchplay, Michael van Gerwen will aim to defend his World Cup of Darts title alongside Raymond van Barneveld next week. The Dutch duo are seeded third for the event, behind England, represented by Phil Taylor & Adrian Lewis, and Scotland, represented by Gary Anderson & Peter Wright.
Michael and Raymond will have to replicate last year’s form to secure victory, however they have tremendous camaraderie and are both playing extremely well at present. One thing’s for sure; on current form, it’s exceedingly difficult to back against Mighty Mike.