Michael van Gerwen survived an incredible six match darts as he edged out Peter Wright to retain his Premier League title in an absolutely absorbing final. Snakebite stormed into a 7-2 advantage, but Van Gerwen fought back supremely to seal a dramatic victory in a nail-biting deciding leg, to seal the third Premier League triumph of his career at the O2 Arena on Thursday evening.
‘The Green Machine’ averaged 104.76, crashed in nine maximums and converted 44% of his attempts to win nine of the final twelve legs, as Wright suffered heartbreak in his maiden Premier League final. The Scot averaged 101.06 and registered six 180’s, but he was left to rue six missed match darts at D8 in the penultimate leg.
Snakebite made an electrifying start to the contest; storming into an early 3-0 lead. He opened up with a maximum en route to a 15-dart hold, before punishing three missed doubles from MvG to double his lead with a 13-dart break of throw. Wright then maintained his early dominance to secure his third straight leg with a clean 62 kill.
Van Gerwen opened his account with a 13-dart hold, but Wright’s procession continued. He pegged D8 to restore his three-leg cushion, before exploiting further missed doubles from ‘Mighty Mike’ to lead 5-1. MvG converted a vital 80 kill to reduce the arrears, but Wright then responded with a fabulous 11-darter to maintain his four leg lead.
The world champion was shell-shocked, but Wright maintained his relentless pressure; dispatching D10 for a 14-dart hold and a 7-2 advantage. However, with Van Gerwen starring down the barrel, he suddenly sparked into life to heap pressure on to the world number three.
He converted a regulation two-dart 65 kill for an invaluable hold, before completing another clinical 67 combination for a 14-dart break of throw. Wright’s scoring power had momentarily evaded him and Van Gerwen pounced; recording his third leg on the spin with a classy 86 checkout for an 11-dart leg.
Wright stopped the rot via D8 to move 8-5 ahead, but ‘The Green Machine’ enjoyed another blistering surge to reduce the arrears. He followed up his fourth maximum by hitting D4, before breaking throw on tops inside 14 darts, having posted two maximums earlier in the leg.
Snakebite was suddenly feeling the pressure and Van Gerwen’s magnificent scoring continued. The Boxtel ace landed his seventh maximum before dispatching a two-dart 94 combination to level up proceedings at eight apiece with a stunning 11-darter.
The world number one crashed in his eighth maximum moments later, as he left 66 after just 9 darts in an attempt to secure the lead for the first time in the final. Nevertheless, he was denied an opportunity after Wright completed a clinical 84 kill via D11, only for MvG to restore parity at 9-9 with a 14-darter on D10.
Van Gerwen had the momentum, but Wright stood firm; converting a two-dart 96 outshot for a 14-darter to move to within a leg of the title. The Scot then incredibly left 32 after just nine darts as he closed in on victory, but astonishingly he squandered six match darts at D8, as Van Gerwen sank D10 to force an unlikely deciding leg.
Wright had the advantage of throw in the decider, but he was visibly crestfallen after spurning such a wonderful opportunity, and Van Gerwen sensed this vulnerability. The imperious Dutchman kicked off the final leg with his ninth maximum and punished an abject leg from Snakebite to complete a remarkable comeback with a 12-dart finale.
Van Gerwen was understandably euphoric in the immediate aftermath, claiming: “I think that was a great final. I knew I had to do something more after the break and I had a feeling I deserved more. “This was a really crazy game. When he had three clear darts I thought it was over. Maybe the pressure was too big for him?”
Wright was remarkably dignified in defeat and vowed to bounce back, admitting: “I have to learn from this, get back on the practice board and get him for next time. I can’t believe I missed that many darts at a double. You can’t afford to miss six darts at double against the world number one and two-time world champion.”
Earlier in the night, Van Gerwen had secured a spot in his fifth successive Premier League final with a 10-7 victory over Gary Anderson. The Dutchman averaged 102.22, landed four maximums and converted 50% of his double attempts to overcome a valiant Anderson, who lost out despite averaging 102.68 and hitting seven 180’s.
The pair exchanged breaks of throw in a blistering start to the contest. Anderson kicked off the contest with five perfect darts, before registering a 12-dart break of throw via D10. Nevertheless, MvG responded with his first maximum to break back instantly inside 11 darts.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ then missed one dart at tops in each of the next two legs as MvG established a 3-1 advantage, but Anderson responded strongly. He piled in his third maximum and converted a 62 kill on tops to stop the rot, before following up his fourth 180 with a classy two-dart 81 outshot to level up proceedings at 3-3.
Van Gerwen regained the lead on D8 after defying a stunning 171 from the Scot, although Anderson enjoyed some good fortune moments later; capitalising on two missed darts from the world number one to level up via D18.
Anderson kicked off the ninth leg with yet another maximum, but he was punished for a costly miscount which denied him a dart at bull, as MvG crashed in a nerveless 112 finish to lead 5-4. Nevertheless, the Scot responded superbly; conjuring up a magnificent 160 outshot for a 12-darter, to head into the interval all square.
‘The Green Machine’ emerged from the break by firing in his third maximum; pegging D8 for a 14-darter having earlier wired the bull for a 164 checkout. However, Anderson crashed in a majestic visit of 177 to restore parity at six apiece with a sublime 11-darter.
Van Gerwen edged ahead once more after converting a clinical 82 finish on tops, but Anderson refused to relent; hitting tops for a 13-darter to draw level again. However, the 15th leg ultimately proved pivotal. Anderson wired the bull for a 121 and a crucial break, which MvG ruthlessly exploited with a nerveless two-dart 74 combination.
This was a bitter pill for the Scot to swallow, and his misery was compounded moments later, as Van Gerwen dispatched a brilliant two-dart 88 finish to move within a leg of victory. Anderson provided resistance with his seventh maximum, but it wasn’t enough, as Van Gerwen pegged D5 for a 13-darter, to seal his place in the final.
In the second semi-final, Wright survived one match dart to prevail in a dramatic deciding leg; ending Phil Taylor’s hopes of enjoying a dream Premier League finale. Snakebite stormed into an early 4-0 lead, but ‘The Power’ fought back superbly; winning seven of the next nine legs to seize the initiative.
The latter half of the contest was a nervy affair, but Taylor was punished for missing 21 darts at double as Snakebite edged through to seal a spot in his maiden Premier League final. Wright averaged 100.04 and converted 43% of his double attempts, whilst Taylor was left to rue one missed match dart, after averaging 97.62 and crashing in six 180’s.
The Scot enjoyed a blistering start to the contest to establish a handsome 4-0 cushion. He drew first blood with a 14-dart hold after the pair had traded maximums, before doubling his tally after following a visit of 177 with a 13-darter. Wright then posted another 14-darter for a 3-0 lead, before pinning D6 for a fourth straight leg.
Taylor had yet to register a dart at double in the opening four legs, but he finally opened his account in the fifth leg via D9. The Stoke-on-Trent ace then capitalised on three missed darts at D12 from Wright to reduce the arrears to 4-2, but the UK Open champion regained his composure to sink D16 and restore his three-leg cushion.
Out of nowhere, Taylor produced the best leg of the tussle; crashing in his second maximum and converting a brilliant 11-darter to remain in touch. The 16-time world champion then left 32 after just 12 darts as he attempted to move to within a leg of Snakebite, but the Scot powered in a nerveless 120 checkout for a 6-3 lead.
However, the 56-year-old responded magnificently. He rounded-off an essential 14-dart hold to head into the interval just 6-4 behind, before posting successive maximums in the eleventh leg to seal a 12-dart break. Wright was stunned and Taylor’s surge continued, as he dispatched a clinical 79 combination on D11 to level the contest at six apiece.
The world number three was reeling and the astonishing turn-around continued, as Taylor pegged D8 for a 14-darter; to record his fourth successive leg and secure the lead for the first time in the match. Nevertheless, he was unable to cement this break, spurning six clear darts at double in the next, as Wright gratefully stopped the rot via D8.
Despite this, the topsy-turvy nature of the contest continued. Taylor kicked off the 15th leg with his fifth maximum; pegging D16 with his last-dart in hand to regain the lead. However, Wright registered the fourth successive break of throw via D8 after ‘The Power’ missed a further five darts at double for a 9-7 advantage.
Neither player was able to hold their throw and Taylor rounded-off the fifth straight break; landing D18 for a 14-darter to move to within a leg of a famous comeback. ‘The Power’ then kicked off the 18th leg with a maximum as he closed in on yet another Premier League final, but the drama continued.
Wright responded with a maximum of his own to heap the pressure on Taylor, and the six-time Premier League champion was unable to take out 64; missing one match dart at tops. This forced a dramatic decider, but this time Wright held his nerve; punishing an indifferent leg from the 56-year-old to complete a dramatic triumph via D10.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Betway Premier League Play-Offs- Thursday 18th May, The O2, London
Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Gary Anderson
Peter Wright 10-9 Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen 11-10 Peter Wright
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