Michael van Gerwen secured his sixth European Tour title of the season after thrashing William O’Connor 8-2 to seal glory at the European Darts Matchplay in Hamburg on Sunday afternoon.
‘The Green Machine’ had made a blistering start to his title defence on Saturday evening, ending the five-year wait for a nine-darter on the European Tour by landing the perfect leg against Ryan Joyce. He managed to maintain that form throughout the tournament to claim the £25,000 winner’s prize and secure the 26th European Tour title of his career.
O’Connor was appearing in his maiden European Tour final after claiming a number of notable scalps throughout the weekend, but Van Gerwen proved an obstacle too far for ‘The Magpie’. MvG averaged 105.17, crashed in six maximums and converted 40% of his attempts at double to retain his European Darts Matchplay crown.
Van Gerwen kicked off proceedings with six perfect darts, but he wasn’t able to replicate Saturday’s heroics and ended up losing the leg after missing five darts at double, as O’Connor stepped in with an impressive 14-darter to draw first blood.
‘Mighty Mike’ drew level with a clinical 68 kill, before going on a four-leg rampage to seize total control of the contest. The world number one fired in back-to-back maximums to set up another potential nine-darter, but he had to settle for a 10-dart leg via D18 to secure the lead.
Van Gerwen then converted an effortless 85 checkout for a 12-dart break, before registering successive 13-darters to establish a commanding 5-1 cushion. The Dutchman took out 90 for a 15-dart hold and a sixth leg on the spin, but O’Connor repeated the feat in the following leg to stop the rot; pegging D15 to double his tally- also in 15 darts.
Nevertheless, this didn’t inspire a heroic fightback from the Irishman. Van Gerwen moved to within a leg of victory after rounding-off a scrappy leg on D8, before completing a 14-dart break via D5 to secure his 15th title of the season.
Earlier in the day, the two-time world champion kicked off Sunday’s action with an emphatic 6-1 win over Robert Thornton. ‘The Thorn’ was punished for a miserly 14% checkout success rate, as Van Gerwen averaged 101.33, landed three maximums and boasted an impressive 60% conversion rate on the doubles to progress to the last eight.
MvG then fended off a valiant fightback from Ian White to secure a spot in the semi-finals. The Dutchman stormed into a 5-1 lead, but ‘The Diamond’ reeled off three consecutive legs to threaten an astonishing comeback. However, Van Gerwen triumphed 6-4 with a 104.82 average, five maximums and a 33% checkout success rate.
In the last four, Van Gerwen faced former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting for a place in the final. Bunting had seen off Darius Labanauskus, Daryl Gurney and Justin Pipe to reach the semis, but with the scores locked at three apiece, Van Gerwen won four of the remaining five legs to prevail with a 99.55 average.
However, although it ended in defeat, it was a magnificent weekend for O’Connor, who defeated three top 16 players to reach his maiden PDC ranking final. The Irishman reeled off four straight legs from 4-2 down to stun world champion Rob Cross on Saturday evening, and he continued that form on Finals Day at the edel-optics.de Arena.
He edged out Belgian number one Kim Huybrechts in a nail-biting decider to reach his first European Tour quarter-final in over two years, before easing past recent Danish Darts Open winner Mensur Suljovic 6-3 to seal a spot in the semi-finals.
This set up a clash with the unseeded Andy Boulton, who was also appearing in his first European Tour semi-final, having seen off Steve Beaton, Jelle Klaasen and Gerwyn Price earlier in the tournament. However, O’Connor ran out a convincing 7-3 winner in the last four, to round-off the biggest weekend of his PDC career to date.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC