Michael van Gerwen clinched the HappyBet European Darts Open title with a thrilling deciding leg victory over Peter Wright on Sunday evening in Dusseldorf. Van Gerwen averaged 104.06 and fired in an incredible seven maximums to edge past Snakebite, who averaged over 100 himself.
Van Gerwen kicked off the final with five perfect darts and converted tops for a 13-darter to win the opening leg. However, Wright responded strongly, hitting his first maximum and completing an 84 checkout for a classy 12-darter.
MvG regained the lead after pinning D6 with his last dart in hand for a 15-dart hold, before he doubled his advantage in the fourth leg. Wright wired the bull for a 167 finish, before two further misses allowed the Dutchman to post D8 to break through.
Nevertheless, Snakebite hit his second 180 and secured an instant break back on D1, having earlier missed six darts at double to close out the leg. Moments later, the second seed restored parity at three apiece with a commanding 14-darter culminating on D6.
Despite this, ‘The Green Machine’ seized the initiative once more, with back-to-back 13-dart legs. He kicked off the seventh leg with his fifth maximum and hit tops for 4-3, before following his sixth 180 with D16 in leg eight.
The Dutchman appeared on the cusp of victory, but Wright battled back resiliently, hitting his third maximum and converting a 13-darter of his own on D20. The Scot then forced a deciding leg, after MvG surprisingly spurned three match darts on D18 and D9 respectively.
Yet, Van Gerwen was not to be denied. He kicked off the sudden-death leg with a 140, before hitting his seventh maximum and taking out a 98 finish for an 11-darter, to clinch his fourth European Tour title of 2016. This is Michael’s twelfth European Tour title in total, since he triumphed here in Dusseldorf three years ago.
Earlier in the day, Van Gerwen progressed to the last eight with a comprehensive 6-2 win against Kyle Anderson. The world number one averaged 99.38, hit two maximums and took out a magnificent 131 checkout (T17, D2o, D20) to secure victory.
In the quarter-finals, ‘The Green Machine’ took on his compatriot Jelle Klaasen, who defeated eight-time major winner James Wade earlier in the afternoon. However, Van Gerwen proved an obstacle too far for ‘The Cobra’.
‘Mighty Mike’ was in ruthless mood, and missed D12 for a nine-darter in the fourth leg. Klaasen established a 3-2 advantage, but the world number one wore him down, winning four of the remaining five legs to claim a 6-4 triumph, with an impressive average of 102.95.
Incredibly, Van Gerwen missed D12 for a nine-darter once again in his semi-final win against Kim Huybrechts. The Belgian had seen off world champion Gary Anderson in the last eight, but the Dutchman breezed past ‘The Hurricane’ with an assured display.
Van Gerwen raced into a 2-0 advantage, missing the nine-darter in the second leg. Huybrechts stayed in contention with an 88 finish to reduce the arrears to 4-3 , but MvG won back-to-back legs to complete the triumph, finishing with an average of 103.63.
Elsewhere, Peter Wright claimed his first victory of Sunday’s marathon session with an emphatic 6-2 win against Welshman Gerwyn Price. Price took out a sublime 138 finish, but struggled for consistency throughout, and Snakebite took full advantage. The Scot fired in three maximums and averaged over 103 to book his quarter-final berth.
Wright continued his fine form in the last eight, whitewashing Mensur Suljovic with a ruthless display. Suljovic posted two maximums, but he was profligate in the latter stages of legs, and the world number five averaged 100.25 to record a surprisingly one-sided victory.
However, Snakebite endured a much tougher battle in the semi-finals, edging past former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting. Bunting had defeated Michael Smith and Terry Jenkins earlier in the day, and he raced into a 3-1 advantage with checkouts of 13 and 68.
Nevertheless, Wright rallied superbly. He completed magnificent finishes of 121, 68 and 110 to establish a 5-3 cushion, and whilst Bunting remained in contention with a 100 outshot, Wright held his nerve to secure a place in his second European Tour final of 2016. But once again, Michael van Gerwen was the thorn in Snakebite’s side.
HappyBet European Darts Open
Sunday July 31
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)
Michael Smith 3-6 Stephen Bunting
Ian White 5-6 Terry Jenkins
Daryl Gurney 3-6 Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright 6-2 Gerwyn Price
Jan Dekker 0-6 Gary Anderson
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Wes Newton
Jelle Klaasen 6-3 James Wade
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Kyle Anderson
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm BST)
Stephen Bunting 6-4 Terry Jenkins
Mensur Suljovic 0-6 Peter Wright
Gary Anderson 4-6 Kim Huybrechts
Jelle Klaasen 4-6 Michael van Gerwen
Stephen Bunting 4-6 Peter Wright
Kim Huybrechts 3-6 Michael van Gerwen
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Peter Wright