Michael van Gerwen clinched his second World Championship title with a magnificent 7-3 triumph against Gary Anderson in a record-breaking final at the Alexandra Palace on Monday evening.
The pair exchanged a mammoth 42 maximums in an epic tussle, which smashes the previous record of 35- set in last year’s final between Anderson and Adrian Lewis. However MvG was simply mesmeric; averaging 107.79, hitting 20 maximums and landing five ton-plus checkouts to deny Anderson a third successive world title.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ defended his title admirably, but his run of seventeen successive victories on the Alexandra Palace stage was finally halted by the imperious Dutchman, who incidentally was the last man to beat Anderson in the World Championships prior to Monday’s final.
The Scot did himself proud however. He averaged 104.93- his highest average in his four World Championship final appearances. He also landed a record-breaking 22 maximums, breaking the previous record held by Raymond van Barneveld and Dave Chisnall, who hit 21 180’s in his defeat to Anderson just last week.
It was a fitting finale to an absorbing fortnight of darts, which saw the standard of play reach new dazzling heights. However, ‘The Green Machine’ was a very deserving winner, having withstood the three highest losing averages in World Championship history to secure his 26th title within the last twelve months.
Van Gerwen clinched the opening set with throw, despite Anderson averaging over 112. MvG opened his account with a fine 122 kill on the bull, but Anderson landed his second maximum to level in 11 darts. The pair then traded holds on D5 and D1 respectively, before the Dutchman defied Ando’s fourth maximum to seal the set with a 13-darter via D18.
Anderson pegged D7 to hold early in set two, but ‘The Green Machine’ responded with a quality 116 to hold. The defending champion regained the lead on D5, until MvG forced a set decider after converting a 90 kill for a fabulous 12-darter. Nevertheless, Ando levelled up at 1-1 after following up his sixth maximum with an imperative 80 checkout.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ secured the first break of throw in the contest after the interval, breaking in 14 darts. Van Gerwen’s response was emphatic however. He crashed in his fifth maximum for an instant break back in 11 darts, before pinning D4 with his last dart in hand to hold.
Van Gerwen registered seven perfect darts as he closed in on the first nine-darter of this year’s tournament in leg four. However, after leaving 56 after 9 darts he wasn’t afforded a shot as the Scot held in 12 darts. MvG had the advantage of throw in the decider but spurned two darts at D16 and the two-time champion pinned D12 to snatch the set.
Ando drew first blood in set four after MvG had missed the bull for a spectacular 170 checkout. The pair then exchanged 13-darters, before MvG hit D8 to force another set decider. Gary was throwing for a two-set lead but Michael produced six magic darts; following up his eighth 180 to convert 86 on D7 for a 12-darter to draw level at 2-2.
The opening leg of set five was uncharacteristically sloppy. Both players missed opportunities but ‘Mighty Mike’ eventually held throw on D1, before capitalising on this reprieve. The Dutchman broke Gary’s throw with a fantastic 94 checkout to round-off an 11-dart leg, which he followed up with a 65 kill to wrap up the set without reply.
Anderson took advantage of a rare Van Gerwen lapse to hit the front in set six with a vital 74 checkout. However, the world number one upped the ante to establish a cushion for the first time in the final. He hit maximums in successive legs to round off 11 and 12 darters, before clinically dispatching a two-dart 64 kill to cement a 4-2 advantage.
Van Gerwen was in cruise control as he nailed D16 to secure an early lead in set seven. The unrelenting Dutch genius then posted his fourteenth maximum to complete an 11-darter, before winning his eleventh leg in twelve after converting a majestic 125 finish (25, T20, D20) to establish a 5-2 lead with a 109.69 average.
Van Gerwen displayed uncharacteristic fallibility early in set eight, missing six darts at double as the second seed held on D2. Normal service was imminently resumed however, as ‘The Green Machine’ crashed in 76 and 75 finishes to seize command of the set, which he duly wrapped up with an effortless 100 kill to move within a set of the title.
MvG continued his procession to victory via D3 after Anderson missed four darts at double, before the next two legs were shared. A crowd disturbance appeared to affect the world number one as he closed in on victory, and Anderson pounced by hitting D5, before following up back-to-back maximums with a stunning 81 finish on D13 to stay alive.
The Scot was flying and he fired in yet another maximum to round-off an 11-darter to draw first blood in set ten. MvG delivered a fine riposte with an 11-darter of his own, before Anderson regained the initiative with a 14-dart hold after the pair traded maximums.
However, ‘The Green Machine’ was simply unstoppable and wrapped up victory with two magnificent legs. He defied Anderson’s record-equaling 21st maximum to take out 100 and force a set decider, before landing his twentieth maximum and taking out 85 on the bullseye to secure his second World Championship title in sumptuous style.
MvG admitted his entire year would have been a failure he had not won this title, but he duly delivered and finished the event with an astonishing tournament average of 106.96. He gushed: “This feels absolutely phenomenal. I think it was a special game of darts for everyone who saw it. I’m a really happy man because I’ve worked so hard for this all year.”
“Everyone wants this trophy and I’m really glad that it is me holding it – and to win it against Gary makes it even more special. He is a phenomenal player with a lot of class and I had to play like that to beat him.”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
William Hill World Darts Championship
Monday January 2 (8pm)
Michael van Gerwen (1) 7-3 Gary Anderson (2)