van Gerwen wins the European Darts Matchplay!

MvG Innsbruck
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Michael van Gerwen secured his fifth European Tour event of 2015, as he beat Dave Chisnall 6-4 to win the European Darts Matchplay in Innsbruck, Austria. The final was initially a scrappy contest, but van Gerwen raced through the gears late on, winning three consecutive legs to seal the win.

Ironically, van Gerwen saved his lowest average of the day for the final, but he performed when it mattered, to continue his stunning recent record against Chizzy. The ‘Yellow Peril’ has now only won 1 of his last 14 meetings against the Green Machine, but he certainly had his chances in the final, missing 4 darts at double to establish a 4-2 lead.

Van Gerwen was in blistering form throughout the day. He thrashed compatriot Raymond van Barneveld 6-1 in the last 16, which was a major boost for the Boxtel man. Van Barneveld had won their last two meetings and was sensational against Stephen Bunting last night, but he wasn’t able to replicate this against his fellow countryman.

In his quarter-final, MVG overcame a mightily impressive Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-3. The enigmatic Austrian averaged 103, but the World No 1 was at his scintillating best, posting a remarkable 114 average en route to victory. He then secured his place in the final with a comprehensive 6-1 rout of Robert Thornton in the semis. The Scot was helpless, as van Gerwen posted an ominous 109 average.

Dave Chisnall’s progress to the final was far less serene. His last 16 clash against Terry Jenkins was arguably the match of the tournament. Chisnall was in inspired form in the early stages, establishing a 5-0 lead as his average rose above 117.

Nevertheless, Jenkins, such a tenacious competitor; continued to battle. The Herefordshire ace began to find his form in the scoring department and managed to reel off five successive legs himself, to take the match to a last-leg decider. This was remarkable, particularly considering that Chisnall’s average didn’t dip below 108.

The St Helen’s star was in the ascendancy to break Jenkins in the final leg, but when he was sat on 82, he suffered an extremely unfortunate bounce-out with his first-dart and didn’t have a shot at a double. Despite this, Jenkins spurned two match darts and Chizzy returned to convert 48 with his final dart.

Chisnall continued his fine form into the quarter-finals, overcoming the ever-consistent Peter Wright 6-3 with a 105 average, to set up a tantalising semi-final against the tournament’s surprise package, David Pallett. Pallett performed superbly throughout the event, averaging 100 and 104 to see off Jamie Caven and Jelle Klaasen to reach the last eight.

His quarter-fjnal against Alan Norris was quite astonishing. Both men failed to produce their best, but Pallett survived NINE missed match darts from the former Lakeside finalist to progress to the quarter-finals of a European Tour event for the very first time. He then beat Kim Huybrechts by the same margin in his quarter-final clash.

However, Dave Chisnall proved a step too far for the hugely talented Shropshire star. He certainly held his own in the opening stages, with the pair sharing the first 6 legs. However, after Pallett missed two darts at D16 for 4-4, Chisnall moved one leg away from victory, before sealing his spot in the final with a classy 113 checkout.

The final began in scrappy fashion. MvG broke instantly, after a poor start from Chisnall, but the World Number 10 responded superbly, breaking straight back with a 13 darter. The next three legs went with throw in rather comfortable fashion, before the decisive sixth leg.

Van Gerwen had been clinical throughout the day, but he was uncharacteristically wasteful, missing 5 darts to hold throw, although he was extremely fortunate not to be punished, with Chisnall missing four darts himself, allowing MvG to level up at 3-3.

Chisnall held comfortably in leg seven, before MvG delivered an instant riposte for 4-4, essentially making it a best of three contest. The top players have the capability to remain unflappable in crucial moments and produce their best when required. This is exactly what he did; he fired in a brilliant 180 to forge ahead, before hitting a brilliant 11-darter to break and move 5-4 ahead.

The tenth leg was tight-fought. Chisnall left 88 after 12 darts, but van Gerwen had a shot at 70 for the title. Despite hitting a single 1 with his first dart, he regained his composure magnificently; hitting T19 and D6 to complete the victory. After his disappointment in Muelheim and his patchy World Series form, this is the perfect tonic for the Dutchman, ahead of next month’s World Grand Prix in Dublin.

On a separate note, the performances of the youngsters in the European Darts Matchplay were hugely encouraging. Rowby-John Rodriguez came of age in this event; knocking out Simon Whitlock for the second tournament in succession, before shocking Mervyn King in the last 16. Although he succumbed to a machine-like MvG in the last eight, he wasn’t fazed by the occasion and produced arguably his best performance of the weekend, albeit in defeat.

This could prove to be Dave Pallett’s breakthrough tournament!

Pallett also performed fantastically. He hit 23 180’s throughout the weekend and this power-scoring was illustrated in his averages. He posted two ton-plus averages, as well as a 98 average, in his run to the last four.  The 25-year-old undoubtedly has talent, but he showed great temperament and maturity this weekend; winning last-leg deciders against established and experienced professionals, which is a major feather in his cap.

However, ultimately, the plaudits will once again go to Michael van Gerwen, who maintains his tremendous European Tour record in 2015. His consistency and hunger for success is admirable and he threw some of his best darts for months on Sunday. There are so many challengers for major honours in darts at present, but MvG remains ‘the’ man to beat.

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