Michael van Gerwen clinched his third Players Championship title of the year after defying a 109.62 average from Chris Dobey to triumph on a thrilling day of action in Milton Keynes on Saturday afternoon.
‘The Green Machine’ triumphed in the opening Players Championship double-header in Barnsley last month, before opting to miss last week’s events in order to focus on his Premier League commitments. However, Van Gerwen maintained his 100% record in Players Championship events in 2018 with a string of sublime displays at Arena MK.
‘Mighty Mike’ is now unbeaten in his last 21 Players Championship matches and he defied four ton-plus averages from his opponents to scoop the £10,000 prize and seal his sixth title of the season. Van Gerwen defeated Dobey 6-2 in the final but that doesn’t tell the full story, with Dobey averaging an incredible 109.62 to Van Gerwen’s 99.58.
Dobey fired in a 180 in the opening leg but proceeded to miss three darts at double, which enabled Van Gerwen to step in and complete a 14-dart break. The Dutchman then doubled his lead after following up a brilliant 174 with a 95 outshot for a 12-darter, before seizing upon more missed doubles from his opponent to extend his lead via D1.
The two-time world champion stretched his lead to 4-0 after Dobey wired the bull for a 130 checkout, but the Englishman opened his account in sensational fashion in leg five; rounding-off a 10-dart hold on D18, with Van Gerwen way back on 323.
‘Hollywood’ then reduced the arrears to 4-2 by pegging D8, before leaving himself on tops in a bid to cut the gap to 4-3. Nevertheless, in typical Van Gerwen fashion, the world number one crashed in a brutal 160 finish to break throw, before capitalising on further missed opportunities from Dobey to seal victory with a 16-dart leg via D8.
Van Gerwen was in irrepressible form for much of the day, but he survived a major scare in his opening-round tie against ‘Rapid’ Ricky Evans. Evans averaged 101 as he pushed ‘The Green Machine’ to a last-leg decider, but the world number one showed his class; averaging 106.90 and converting finishes of 170 and 143 to prevail.
MvG then gained revenge for his UK Open defeat to Jeffrey de Zwaan by defeating his fellow countryman 6-3 to book his place in round-three, where he saw off former World Youth champion Keegan Brown by the same scoreline.
Van Gerwen then eased past his compatriot Jimmy Hendriks to set up a crunch quarter-final clash against Gary Anderson. The pair had shared the opening four Players Championship events, with ‘Mighty Mike’ winning the opening double-header, before Anderson made hay in the Dutchman’s absence in Barnsley last weekend.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ extended his unbeaten run to 27 games in all competitions with victories over Paul Rowley, Davy van Baelen, Robert Marijanovic and his fellow Scot Cameron Menzies, dropping just six legs in the process.
However, the UK Open champion’s unbeaten streak was halted by a rampant Van Gerwen, who registered an emphatic 6-1 victory despite averaging 103.50 to Anderson’s 107.90, which denied the Scot a third successive Players Championship title.
The world number one then faced eight-time major winner James Wade in the last four, in a repeat of the Players Championship One Final last month. ‘The Machine’ claimed wins over Ritchie Edhouse, John Goldie and Wayne Jones, whilst edging deciding-leg tussles with Simon Stevenson and Mensur Suljovic, before succumbing 6-2 to MvG.
Meanwhile, in the bottom half of the draw, Chris Dobey produced a series of terrific displays to seal a spot in his second PDC Final. ‘Hollywood’ kicked off his campaign with a thumping whitewash win over 17-year-old Bradley Brooks, before battling past James Wilson 6-4.
The North-East star then eased past Dave Chisnall 6-2 with a 102.40 average, before clinching a quarter-final spot with another ton-topping average in a 6-4 success over the emerging Stephen Burton.
This set up a last eight clash with German ace Gabriel Clemens- appearing in his first PDC quarter-final, but Dobey ran out a comprehensive 6-2 winner, which saw him meet Ryan Searle in an intriguing semi-final showdown.
Searle was bidding to reach his maiden Pro Tour final after claiming the scalps of Mervyn King, Mark Dudbridge, Ron Meulenkamp, Alan Tabern and William O’Connor en route to the semis. Searle led 5-4, but Dobey fought back and sealed a dramatic deciding-leg win with a nerveless 112 kill, until he was denied by an imperious Van Gerwen.
Nevertheless, there were a host of early big-name casualties in Milton Keynes. World champion Rob Cross was narrowly beaten at the first hurdle by the emerging Luke Woodhouse, whilst Premier League ace Gerwyn Price suffered further frustration as he was dumped out by Northern Irishman Mickey Mansell.
Two-time major PDC winner Robert Thornton was thrashed 6-1 in round-one by Ronny Huybrechts, whilst Joe Cullen joined the Dutch trio of Benito van de Pas, Vincent van der Voort and Danny Noppert in departing the tournament at the same stage. Elsewhere, Kim Huybrechts also lost his opening tie against ex World Youth champion Max Hopp.
World number two Peter Wright suffered a shock 6-1 defeat to Brendan Dolan in round-two, whilst World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney was beaten at the same stage by Simon Stevenson, who also accounted for ‘Super-Chin’ in the previous Players Championship event in Barnsley last weekend.
Two-time world champion Adrian Lewis suffered a surprise 6-3 defeat to William O’Connor in round-three, whilst former Premier League stars Dave Chisnall and Jelle Klaasen were another notable third-round casualties.
Premier League high-flyer Michael Smith did not feature in Milton Keynes on Saturday afternoon, but he wasn’t the only high-profile absentee. Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld wasn’t in attendance, whilst recent UK Open finalist Corey Cadby has returned to Australia ahead of his wedding this weekend.
The full list of results can be viewed via the following link: https://www.pdc.tv/node/7683
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Gary Anderson
James Wade 6-3 Mensur Suljovic
Chris Dobey 6-2 Gabriel Clemens
Ryan Searle 6-3 William O’Connor
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 James Wade
Chris Dobey 6-5 Ryan Searle
Michael van Gerwen 6- 2 Chris Dobey