Michael van Gerwen defeated James Wade 8-3 to clinch European Darts Trophy glory and secure his eighth European Tour title of the season on a thrilling day of darts in Gottingen on Sunday evening.
The world number one was in irrepressible form throughout the weekend; posting five consecutive ton-plus averages en route to scooping the £25,000 winner’s prize to continue his magnificent form on the European Tour.
However, in typical MvG fashion, he saved his best until last. The Dutchman averaged 111.27, crashed in five maximums and conjured up three ton-plus finishes to complete a stunning victory. There was an incredible disparity of 32 points in the averages, with Wade unable to replicate the performances he’d produced in earlier rounds.
Van Gerwen drew first blood with a confident 14-dart break of throw, but Wade levelled after converting a nerveless 70 kill on tops. The Dutchman then posted his first maximum in leg three but was suitably punished for one missed dart at tops, with ‘The Machine’ taking out a clinical 95 outshot via D12 to secure the lead.
The two-time world champion responded in imperious fashion; firing in successive 12-darters to regain the initiative, before completing a magical 119 finish (Bull, S19, Bull) to establish a two-leg cushion.
Van Gerwen wired tops for a 160 checkout in leg seven, and Wade maintained his impeccable finishing statistics by converting a vital two-dart 82 combination on tops, but this proved to be the left-hander’s final opportunity at a double, as MvG ran riot.
The Boxtel ace kicked off the eighth leg with six perfect darts; rounding off a dominant hold of throw in 11 darts. He then followed up his fifth maximum with a sublime 10-dart break of throw, before moving to the cusp of victory with a clinical 110 checkout.
‘Mighty Mike’ had produced some mesmeric darts throughout and he sealed the deal in the most spectacular fashion, taking out a majestic 170 finish on the bull to round off the 2018 European Tour in stunning style.
It was a brutal display from Van Gerwen, who won his eight legs in 14, 12, 12, 15, 11, 10, 15 and 12 darts respectively, to cap off an extraordinary performance. Having returned to winning ways at the World Grand Prix, the Dutchman once again underlined his superiority in Gottingen, with bodes ominously for the chasing pack.
Van Gerwen had kicked off Sunday’s proceedings with a hard-fought 6-4 win over a resilient Stephen Bunting. There was just the solitary break of throw throughout the contest, with only one leg being won in over 15 darts, as MvG prevailed with a 106.46 average, five maximums and a 46% checkout success rate.
This set up a quarter-final showdown with Daryl Gurney, in a repeat of their recent World Grand Prix semi-final. It was a magnificent contest, with Gurney averaging 107.11 to Van Gerwen’s 106.53. There was just one missed dart at double in the entire match, but despite Gurney crashing in six maximums, ‘The Green Machine’ ran out a 6-2 winner.
In the last four, Van Gerwen locked horns with Michael Smith, in a repeat of this year’s Premier League Final. Smith had dropped just two legs in his previous two matches; following up a whitewash win over Steve Beaton by breezing past Dave Chisnall 6-2; after Chisnall had averaged 112.73 in his third-round demolition of John Henderson.
Nevertheless, Smith was unable to replicate his earlier displays against the world number one, converting just 25% of his attempts at a double. The Dutchman took full advantage; averaging 102.07, posting three maximums and boasting an impressive 58% conversion rate to breeze past ‘Bully Boy’.
Wade, who became a father for the first time earlier this week, had more reasons to celebrate after reaching his second European Tour Final of the season. Having seen off Toni Alcinas in his tournament opener, ‘The Machine’ defeated Darren Webster 6-3 in a scrappy last 16 encounter; averaging 90.39 and taking out a crucial 118 kill in leg six.
This set up a crunch quarter-final clash against world champion Rob Cross, who saw off home favourite Max Hopp in a dramatic last-leg decider in the previous round. Cross established an early 2-0 lead but Wade soon took control; winning six of the remaining seven legs to triumph with a 97.42 average, two 180’s and a 40% checkout success rate.
In the semi-finals, the seven-time major winner faced Richard North, who secured last-gasp European Championship qualification by virtue of reaching the last four. North dumped out Simon Whitlock on Saturday afternoon and followed that up with convincing wins over Jonny Clayton and Jelle Klaasen on finals day.
However, North’s hopes of reaching a first European Tour Final were thwarted by Wade, who averaged 98.91, registered three maximums and took out two ton-plus finishes en route to a 7-4 victory. North averaged 99.29 and only spurned the solitary dart at a double, but The Machine’s exemplary timing proved decisive.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC