World number one Michael van Gerwen secured European Championship glory for a record-equalling fourth consecutive year with a stunning 11-7 victory over tournament debutant Rob Cross in a thrilling final in Hasselt on Sunday evening.
Van Gerwen survived two match darts in a gripping semi-final showdown against Kyle Anderson, who landed a magical nine-dart finish- the third in the tournament’s history. ‘The Original’ performed magnificently and crashed in eleven maximums, but he was cruelly punished for missing two match darts in a thriller.
The Australian opened up an early 2-0 advantage, but Van Gerwen won six of the next seven legs to seize control of the contest. However, Anderson fought back and reduced the arrears to 6-5 after landing a stunning nine-dart finish in the eleventh leg- his second televised nine-darter after his 2014 World Championship heroics.
Van Gerwen stretched his lead to 8-5, but the Auckland Masters champion reeled off four consecutive legs to secure a 9-8 lead. Van Gerwen then won two straight legs to move to the cusp of victory, but Anderson broke back to force a decider, only to miss two match darts in the decider as the Dutchman converted a nerveless 76 kill to triumph.
In the other semi-final, Rob Cross’ spectacular debut year on the PDC circuit continued as he dismantled World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney to romp into the final. ‘Voltage’ stormed into an early 7-0 lead and although ‘Super-Chin’ provided brief late resistance, the former electrician closed out an 11-3 triumph with an impressive 98.02 average.
Cross was appearing in his first major semi-final, but he showed no lack of experience or composure to thrash the new world number four. Gurney struggled throughout; averaging 92.63 and converting just three of his 13 attempts at double, as the sixth seed cruised to victory.
Nevertheless, the final was a stunning spectacle, with Van Gerwen averaging 108.91, landing seven maximums and converting 50% of his attempts at double to secure a fourth successive European Championship title- matching Phil Taylor’s achievement of four successive wins in the event from 2008-2011.
Cross also performed superbly. Appearing in his first major final, the Englishman matched MvG all the way in the opening ten legs, averaging 102.39 and firing in six maximums, but Van Gerwen’s unrelenting brilliance proved an obstacle too far for ‘Voltage’.
Cross drew first blood in the final on D10, after Van Gerwen missed two darts at double having landed a 171 earlier in the leg. However, the Dutchman responded in typically nonchalant fashion; mopping up an effortless 104 checkout having registered his first maximum in the preceding visit.
‘Voltage’ then produced a sensational 140 checkout to hold throw, before Van Gerwen found D8 to level after the pair traded maximums. Both men had made blistering starts and the high-quality continued as Cross rounded off a 14-dart hold to seal a 3-2 lead at the first interval.
Van Gerwen upped the ante even further after the break, firing in magnificent 10 and 12 darters to secure the lead for the first time, but Cross was unfazed and delivered a stunning riposte; crashing in back-to-back maximums and recovering sublimely to dispatch a 102 checkout (S1, T17, Bull) for an instant break back.
However, the drama continued. Van Gerwen secured the third successive break of throw after piling in his sixth maximum and capitalising on three missed darts from Cross, but the Hastings ace responded once more; rattling in his fifth 180 to complete a 11-dart break to restore parity at five apiece.
The world number one then wrestled back the initiative after the break. He posted his second 171 of the contest before pegging D5 for a 14-darter and a fifth consecutive break. ‘The Green Machine’ then recorded a crucial 15-dart hold to halt the flurry of breaks and establish a two-leg buffer for the first time in the final.
The next two legs went with throw, before Cross missed D16 for an imperative hold, and Van Gerwen pounced with a 13-darter and a double-break. ‘Mighty Mike’ then cemented this advantage by following up his seventh maximum with an effortless 130 checkout for a 12-dart hold to move to the brink of victory, but Cross remained resilient.
The Hastings ace held his nerve admirably to complete a 62 outshot and preserve his hopes of pulling off an inspired fightback, but a clinical Van Gerwen was not going to relinquish his cushion. He left 48 after just 12 darts and made no mistake; completing a 14-darter to round-off one of the most high-quality PDC finals in recent memory.
However, whilst Van Gerwen will receive the accolades for his stunning triumph, Cross acquitted himself magnificently and sealed his qualification for next month’s Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton by virtue of reaching his first major final, whilst Kyle Anderson received a £25,000 bonus for his incredible nine-dart heroics. What a night!
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Unibet European Championship
Sunday October 29
Michael van Gerwen 10-5 Simon Whitlock
Kyle Anderson 10-7 Mensur Suljovic
Peter Wright 5-10 Daryl Gurney
Rob Cross 10-4 Michael Smith
Best of 19 legs
Michael van Gerwen 11-10 Kyle Anderson – Kyle Anderson Hits Nine-Dart Finish
Daryl Gurney 3-11 Rob Cross
Best of 21 legs
Michael van Gerwen 11-7 Rob Cross
Best of 21 legs