Michael van Gerwen continued his darting domination in 2015, as he beat Adrian Lewis 11-6 to win the Players Championship Finals in Minehead.
This is van Gerwen’s fourth consecutive TV major title, since he was beaten in the World Grand-Prix final by Robert Thornton in October. MvG has now appeared in every single major final in 2015. Considering the depth of quality within the PDC, that is a simply astonishing achievement.
Adrian Lewis, also runner-up in last year’s event, unfortunately produced his worst display of the weekend in the final, averaging a mere 89 against MvG. That isn’t sufficient to beat a player of van Gerwen’s quality. However, there were many positives to take for Jackpot this weekend.
Earlier in the evening, both men progressed through to the final in comprehensive fashion. Lewis beat Mensur Suljovic 11-1, after the Austrian endured a nightmare on the doubles, hitting 1 from just 11 attempts.
Elsewhere, Michael van Gerwen cruised to an emphatic 11-2 triumph over Daryl Gurney, winning nine consecutive legs to sink the Northern Irishman. In spite of this, it’s been a breakthrough event for Daryl; he is certainly an unseeded player to avoid in the first-round of the Worlds.
However, the final, between two of the most talented players in world darts, began in typically explosive fashion. Lewis held throw in the opening leg with a 13-darter, before the Dutchman responded with a sublime 11-darter.
Lewis paid the price for a sloppy third leg, as van Gerwen broke courtesy of pinning D16, however the Two-Time World Champion delivered an instant riposte, taking out 118 to level up proceedings at 2-2.
Nevertheless, Adrian was unable to cement the break back, as MvG posted a 12-dart leg to reclaim the lead at the opening interval.
The World Number One then converted D10 in consecutive legs to establish a three-leg cushion and suddenly, Lewis was under severe pressure.
Despite this, he was handed a surprise reprieve in the eighth leg, as MvG missed three clear darts at D16 for a 6-2 advantage. Lewis capitalised, taking out D12 to reduce the arrears to 5-3.
‘The Green Machine’ posted his fourth maximum in the ninth leg, but Lewis won his second leg on the spin, taking out a pivotal 65 checkout to move to within a solitary leg of the Dutch ace.
However, ‘Jackpot’ missed D20 for a 119 checkout in leg 10, which would have restored parity. van Gerwen managed to stop the rot, again hitting D10, to regain his two-leg advantage heading into the second intermission.
The decisive blow was potentially struck in the eleventh leg. Lewis was poised to reduce the deficit to 6-5. Yet, some sloppy shooting meant that Lewis failed to register a dart at double, despite having 6 darts from 121. MvG converted 78 to ruthlessly punish his opponent’s profligacy.
This visibly deflated Adrian, as van Gerwen hit D6 to ease 8-4 ahead, after enjoying a commanding leg on throw. Despite this, Lewis kept his slender hopes alive with a 102 checkout.
The Stokie’s joy was short-lived however, as van Gerwen produced a ton-plus checkout of his own in the following leg, taking out 117 to move to within two legs of the title.
Van Gerwen produced another timely maximum in the fifteenth leg, and after Lewis was unable to produce a spectacular 154 checkout, MvG nailed D12 to move one leg away from the title.
‘Mighty Mike’ appeared set to clinch an 11-5 win, but after Michael missed two tournament darts, Lewis posted an inspired 147 finish to prolong this contest.
Unfortunately, Adrian undid all his good work in the previous leg, by squandering three clear darts at double moments later, allowing van Gerwen to return for D6 to seal the title. This time, the Dutchman made no mistake, to clinch his second Players Championship finals title.
In truth, Michael was the worthy winner. He has completely dominated the Pro Tour in 2015, winning multiple European Tour and Players Championship events, hence his Number 1 seeding.
Michael was inevitably delighted with the victory: “I’m really glad to have this title back, absolutely over the moon. It was difficult to get the win but I’m really glad I did.
“Adrian’s a fantastic player but I was the better player in this game and I just want to keep this form going now because I’m playing really well,” the World Number One added.
This is ideal preparation for van Gerwen, heading into the World Championships in less than three weeks time. Of course Michael is beatable, but he appears to possess an air of invincibility at present, similar to Phil Taylor in his pomp.
Interestingly, in the last three years, the winner of the Players Championship Finals has gone on to win the World Championships just one month later.
You would certainly be a brave man to bet against van Gerwen repeating this feat, although there will be a number of challengers attempting to dispel this statistic. Bring on the Worlds!
Mensur Suljovic 1-11 Adrian Lewis
Michael van Gerwen 11-2 Daryl Gurney
Michael van Gerwen 11-6 Adrian Lewis