Michael van Gerwen regained the European Darts Matchplay title with a brilliant victory over third seed Mensur Suljovic in a high-quality final at the edel-optics.de Arena in Hamburg on Sunday evening.
Van Gerwen won the inaugural staging of this event back in 2015, before losing out to James Wade in the semi-finals twelve months ago. Nevertheless, ‘Mighty Mike’ regained his crown with a series of dominant displays in Germany, to scoop the £25,000 winner’s prize and seal his second European Tour title of the year.
However, the world number one was given a tough examination by Mensur Suljovic in the tournament’s finale, as the Austrian recorded back-to-back final appearances on the European Tour for the second time in his career. Suljovic actually boasted the superior average in the final, averaging 106.26 to Van Gerwen’s 102.05.
Van Gerwen registered four maximums and scored prolifically throughout, as did Suljovic, who followed up his solitary maximum with eight scores of 140+. However, the finishing ultimately proved decisive, as Van Gerwen converted 60% of his attempts at double, compared to Suljovic’s indifferent 33% checkout success rate.
MvG drew first blood in a dramatic opener; firing in a majestic 136 checkout to hold throw after Suljovic missed D5 for a 12-dart break of throw. The Austrian levelled up proceedings with a clinical 87 finish for a 15-dart hold of his own, but Van Gerwen landed his first maximum and rounded off a 13-darter via D4 to regain the lead.
‘The Green Machine’ then secured a crucial break of throw in the fourth leg. The Dutchman wired the bull for a 164 outshot, but returned to peg D4 after Suljovic missed D18 for a 141 kill. The world number one then landed his third maximum in as many legs before sinking D18 for a 14-dart hold, to record his third straight leg.
Suljovic stopped the rot with a solid 15-darter via D8, but he was unable to make further inroads into Van Gerwen’s throw. The irrepressible Dutchman crashed in his fourth maximum and found tops for a magnificent 11-darter to move to the cusp of the title.
Nevertheless, ‘The Gentle’ refused to relent. He followed up his opening maximum with a sensational 164 outshot on the bulls-eye to reduce the arrears to 5-3, before leaving D20 after 12 darts in the following leg. However, it was to no avail as Van Gerwen followed up a stunning visit of 170 by dispatching a nerveless 75 kill on tops to triumph.
Earlier in the day, Van Gerwen had followed up his imperious second-round win over John Henderson by easing past the veteran Mervyn King to reach the last eight. ‘The Green Machine’ averaged 102.76, piled in five maximums and dispatched a classy 134 checkout to round-off a convincing 6-3 win.
In the last eight, MvG survived a scare to defeat Peter Hudson who was appearing in his maiden European Tour quarter-final. Van Gerwen stormed into a 5-0 lead with a 119 average, but Hudson reeled off four straight legs to stun the Dutchman. However, MvG regained his composure to triumph 6-4, with a 106.10 average and five maximums.
The world number one then faced recent Gibraltar Darts Trophy winner Michael Smith for a place in the final, but ‘The Bully-Boy’ was unable to set up a repeat of the last European Tour final against Suljovic. Smith had his chances, but Van Gerwen averaged 99.37, posted three 180’s and converted 66% of his doubles to cap off a clinical display.
On the other side of the draw, Suljovic kicked off Sunday’s action with another deciding-leg victory over Daryl Gurney. After surviving two match darts in his opening tie against Dirk van Duijvenbode, the Austrian again prevailed in an eleven-leg scrap, averaging 91.71, converting 50% of his double attempts and dispatching a stunning 161 finish.
In the last eight, ‘The Gentle’ faced sixth seed Dave Chisnall who sealed his place in the quarter-finals with a deciding leg win over Ian White. It was a topsy-turvy affair, but Suljovic averaged 96.57, landed two maximums and boasted a checkout success rate of 43%, to prevail 6-4 and record just his second ever victory over the St Helen’s star.
Suljovic then faced Cristo Reyes in the semi-finals, after the Spaniard dumped out second seed Peter Wright in a classic, before defeating a resurgent Stephen Bunting. However, Suljovic sealed a spot in his second successive European Tour final with a 6-3 win; averaging 99.25, crashing in two 180’s and converting 66% of his double attempts.
Nevertheless, whilst Van Gerwen claimed the spoils, it was a fine weekend for a number of other players. Despite not holding a PDC tour card, Peter Hudson defeated Brendan Dolan and former European Tour winners Kim Huybrechts and Alan Norris to reach his first ever European Tour quarter-final and scoop £4,000 in prize money.
Stephen Bunting also enjoyed a welcome return to form in Hamburg. ‘The Bullet’ dispatched finishes of 117 and 125 to defeat Jelle Klaasen in round-two, before averaging 103.05 and registering eight perfect darts to beat Kyle Anderson and secure a spot in his first PDC ranking quarter-final since October.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
HappyBet European Darts Matchplay
Sunday June 11
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)
Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Ian White
Stephen Bunting 6-3 Kyle Anderson
Cristo Reyes 6-5 Peter Wright
Michael Smith 6-2 Andy Hamilton
Joe Cullen 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
Peter Hudson 6-3 Alan Norris
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Mervyn King
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm BST)
Mensur Suljovic 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Cristo Reyes 6-3 Stephen Bunting
Michael Smith 6-2 Joe Cullen
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Peter Hudson
Mensur Suljovic 6-3 Cristo Reyes
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Mensur Suljovic