World number one Michael van Gerwen edged out Rob Cross to retain his European Darts Trophy and clinch his sixth Euro Tour title of the year on an eventful day of action in Gottingen on Sunday evening.
Van Gerwen defeated Cross in the final of last month’s German Darts Grand Prix, and although the former Challenge Tour star got closer to upsetting the world champion on this occasion, history repeated itself as ‘The Green Machine’ closed out a hard-fought triumph to secure the 20th European Tour title of his career.
Van Gerwen was battling with Peter Wright for the right to enter the European Championship as top seed. The pair had each won five titles heading into this weekend’s final event, but the Boxtel ace capped off his European Tour season in style to ensure he will head to Hasselt as number one seed.
Van Gerwen and Cross had stormed through the field to set up an enthralling final, but the Dutchman’s experience paid dividends as he closed out a battling victory. ‘Mighty Mike’ averaged 96.70 compared to Cross’ 93.23, but MvG’s finishing was the decisive factor, as he took out three ton-plus checkouts en route to glory.
Cross drew first blood in the final with a solid 16-dart hold, but Van Gerwen levelled instantly with a sublime 160 checkout. ‘Voltage’ then overcame some double-trouble to regain the lead; pinning D9 with his sixth attempt at double.
However, the world champion responded impressively. He clinically converted a 68 kill for a 15-dart hold and a fourth successive hold of throw, before producing a moment of genius to claim a crucial break. Cross had failed to take out 96 and Van Gerwen pounced; ruthlessly dispatching a stunning 100 checkout (S20, D20, D20) to seize the initiative.
Cross hit straight back on D9, having missed D18 for a 150 outshot in the preceding visit, but the topsy-turvy nature of the contest continued. ‘Mighty Mike’ piled in his first maximum of the final and sank tops for a 13-darter and a third consecutive break, before producing a majestic 150 finish to move to within a leg of victory.
‘Voltage’ posted his first maximum and pegged D16 for a 14-darter to preserve his hopes, but his dreams of clinching a maiden European Tour title were quashed moments later. Cross was unable to conjure up a magical 167 finish to save the match, and Van Gerwen maintained his composure to pin D5 with his last dart in hand to seal the title.
Van Gerwen was in merciless mood throughout Sunday’s action; dropping just two legs in his three matches en route to the final. He began the day by thrashing former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting 6-1; averaging 100.60, landing three maximums and pegging 46% of his darts at double.
In the last eight, ‘The Green Machine’ disposed of ninth seed Joe Cullen in a matter of minutes; whitewashing ‘The Rockstar’ 6-0 using just 87 darts. The world number one averaged 103.66, piled in four maximums and boasted an impressive 55% checkout conversion rate to seal his progression in comprehensive fashion.
This set up a semi-final showdown against World Grand Prix finalist Simon Whitlock, who continued his resurgence by beating Jan Dekker and Andy Boulton to reach the last four. However, he was obliterated by an imperious MvG, who averaged 110.39, crashed in four 180’s and hit six of his seven attempts at double to storm into the final.
On the other side of the draw, Cross kicked off Sunday’s proceedings with a comprehensive 6-2 win over former World-Youth champion Keegan Brown. ‘Voltage’ was dominant throughout; averaging 105.40, registering two maximums and converting 38% of his attempts at double to prevail.
This set up a last-eight showdown against four-time European Tour winner Michael Smith, who appeared to be struggling with illness. The St Helen’s star could only muster a 79 average and Cross capitalised; averaging 93.15, firing in two maximums and boasting an impressive 67% checkout conversion rate to record a 6-3 victory.
The former electrician then faced Kim Huybrechts for a place in the final. The Belgian defied a 110.59 average from Peter Wright to defeat the Scot 6-3, before averaging 99.82 to defeat Dave Chisnall 6-4 in a high-quality quarter-final.
Nevertheless, Huybrechts was unable to replicate that performance in the semi-finals, as ‘The Hurricane’ was blown away by an irrepressible Cross. The Englishman averaged 98.80 and converted 60% of his attempts at double to triumph 6-1 and reach his second European Tour final, but once again, Michael van Gerwen reigned supreme in Germany.
Yet it wasn’t only ‘The Green Machine’ breaking records tonight. There was a crowd of 3,524 in Gottingen- a record for a darts event in Germany. This just illustrates the growth of the sport, and that record will most certainly be broken when the 2018 Premier League heads to Berlin in February next year.
Photo Credit: PDC Europe
HappyBet European Darts Trophy
Sunday October 15
Afternoon Session (1pm-5pm local time, 12pm-4pm BST)
Michael Smith 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Rob Cross 6-2 Keegan Brown
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Peter Wright
Simon Whitlock 6-2 Jan Dekker
Andy Boulton 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
Joe Cullen 6-2 Alan Norris
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Stephen Bunting
Evening Session (7pm-11pm local time, 6pm-10pm BST)
Rob Cross 6-3 Michael Smith
Kim Huybrechts 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Simon Whitlock 6-4 Andy Boulton
Michael van Gerwen 6-0 Joe Cullen
Rob Cross 6-1 Kim Huybrechts
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Rob Cross