Michael van Gerwen stormed to his third consecutive European Championship title after demolishing second seed Mensur Suljovic 11-1 with an astonishing performance in the final in Hasselt, Belgium, on Sunday evening.
The world number one averaged an incredible 111.62 and fired in five maximums. However, the finishing element of Van Gerwen’s game was the most impressive aspect of his brutal display, as he converted 10 of his 14 attempts at double, a mightily impressive ratio of 73%
Suljovic ultimately ran out of steam after recording brilliant victories over Phil Taylor and Peter Wright respectively, although ‘The Gentle’ was still thrilled with his efforts, which see him rise to a career high of seventh in the world. However, Van Gerwen was in unstoppable form as he secured his 22nd title of the year.
Van Gerwen made a blistering start to the final by taking out 93 for a brilliant 11-darter. Suljovic fired in his first maximum as he aimed to respond, but MvG doubled his lead with a clinical 14-darter culminating on D16.
The Austrian responded impressively by pinning D9 for a 13-darter and an instant break back, although his joy was short-lived, as Van Gerwen regained his two-leg cushion after firing in two maximums and hitting D16 to round off a magnificent 12-darter.
The Dutchman was in clinical mood and maintained his impressive finishing by converting 72 on tops to establish a commanding 4-1 lead heading into the interval, with a 109.5 average.
The pattern of Van Gerwen’s dominance continued after the break. MvG produced a brilliant 110 finish for a double-break of throw, before ‘The Green Machine’ stormed into a 6-1 lead with a classy 93 checkout for another 12-dart leg.
Suljovic registered successive visits of 140, 140 and 137 as he attempted to win his second leg of the contest, but he was denied by more Van Gerwen brilliance, as the world number one fired in a sublime 157 checkout to seal his fifth consecutive leg.
The Austrian was helpless and the procession continued, as MvG posted his third maximum before clinically cleaning up 72 inside two-darts for an 8-1 advantage. Suljovic squandered two darts at D16 as he aimed to stop the rot but Van Gerwen’s astonishing finishing continued, as he pinned D16 to take his checkout ratio to 82%.
‘Mighty Mike’ emerged from the second break still firing on all cylinders, hitting his fifth maximum and leaving 46 after 9 darts, which he subsequently rounded off in 11 darts. Suljovic had nothing left in the tank, and Van Gerwen hit D9 to win his ninth leg in succession which ultimately clinched the title.
It was a breath-taking performance from MvG. Since surviving a match-dart from Simon Whitlock in the opening round, ‘The Green Machine’ was barely pushed. He reflected: “I said before that I had something left in the tank and I played amazing there. It’s been a phenomenal weekend for me.”
Earlier in the evening, Van Gerwen had to come back from 6-5 down to defeat James Wade in the semi-finals. ‘The Machine’ took out a brilliant 119 finish to establish a 6-5 cushion and punish some profligate finishing from MvG, but the Dutchman won six of the remaining seven legs to seal victory with a 102.98 average.
Elsewhere, Suljovic secured a place in his maiden PDC major final with a spirited 11-8 victory over third seed Peter Wright. Snakebite averaged 98.34 compared to Suljovic’s 97.15, but Wright’s miserly checkout ratio of 28% ultimately cost him, as ‘The Gentle’ took out 118 to seal his place in the final.
Suljovic was only able to muster an 85 average in the final, although he was still jubilant having reached his first ever major PDC final. The darts-control man maintained: “I’m not disappointed at all. I’m super happy to be in the final and I gave it my best. I’m just happy to come this far.”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Evening Session (8pm-12am local time, 7pm-11pm UK time)
Michael van Gerwen 11-7 James Wade
Mensur Suljovic 11-8 Peter Wright
Best of 21 legs
Michael van Gerwen 11-1 Mensur Suljovic