Michael van Gerwen sealed his second consecutive World Series title after beating his fellow countryman Raymond van Barneveld 8-1 in the final of the NZ Masters on Saturday in Hamilton.
Van Gerwen – who defeated Van Barneveld in last year’s Auckland Darts Masters final, produced a dominant display in Saturday’s showpiece to win the inaugural NZ Darts Masters crown in front of a 4,000 capacity crowd at the Claudelands Arena in Hamilton.
Van Barneveld was appearing in his third World Series final in New Zealand and his fifth in total, but he was denied a maiden World Series crown by his compatriot, although the 52-year-old produced some fine displays throughout the event to bow out in style Down Under.
Barney squandered three darts at double in the opening two legs as Van Gerwen established an early 2-0 lead and ‘The Green Machine’ also converted a clinical 100 kill in leg four, before stretching his lead to 5-0.
Van Barneveld opened his account on double ten in leg six, but Van Gerwen surged to the title in style, reeling off the final three legs in 15, 14 and 13 darts to cap off a brilliant fortnight for the world number one.
“I am so happy to win this title in Hamilton, it has been a phenomenal tournament and the crowd has been amazing,” said Van Gerwen following his victory. “I told my wife before I left three weeks ago, I am going to win two of the three events whilst I’m away and I’m so happy to have done that.
“To play a final against Raymond is always an honour. Raymond has been good for darts, like Maradona was good for football but now Messi has taken over. It’s the same in darts now.”
Van Gerwen survived a major scare in his opening round tie against Kyle Anderson on Friday, as ‘The Original’ spurned three match darts to dump out MvG. Nevertheless, the three-time world champion referenced his mental strength as being crucial to his triumph.
“Mentally I am the strongest player, I know how good I am and no bad game will ever change that,” he added. “I can never be perfect all the time, I am not a robot but I know how strong I am and I know I am the best right now.“
Van Gerwen’s route to a 14th World Series success began with a thrilling 8-5 victory over Gary Anderson. The Scot had to have two teeth removed on the day of the game after suffering with toothache and MvG piled on the pain for the two-time world champion, averaging 106.33 to prevail.
The 30-year-old then cruised through his semi-final clash against Rob Cross, defeating the world number two 8-3. Cross had beaten host nation qualifier Ben Robb by the same scoreline in the last eight, yet the Dutchman capitalised on a lacklustre display from ‘Voltage’ to set up an all-Dutch tie against RvB.
The five-time world champion overcame New Zealand World Cup star Cody Harris in his opener, before registering fine victories over Daryl Gurney and James Wade to claim a place in his first World Series final of 2019.
Van Barneveld converted 57% of his attempts at double to edge out world number three Gurney 8-6 in the quarter-finals, before a 97 average and 47% on the doubles saw him wrap up an 8-5 win over reigning World Series champion Wade.
“How can you be sad when the crowd is so amazing?” said Van Barneveld following the final. “I am so thankful for this crowd and I’m sorry I couldn’t say goodbye with the title.
“I have had an amazing week and I just want to say thank you to the PDC and all the staff for making this a fantastic trip. There is a lot left to play for this year so it is time to go home, rest and get ready for the rest of the year.“
The 2019 World Series of Darts will conclude in November with the Finals taking place in Amsterdam for the first time between November 1-3. Michael van Gerwen will take his place as the number one seed following his back-to-back victories in Melbourne and Hamilton.
Schedule of Play
Friday, August 23 (1800 local time)
James Wade 6-5 Craig Caldwell
Ben Robb 6-4 Simon Whitlock
Daryl Gurney 6-2 David Platt
Rob Cross 6-2 Warren Parry
Gary Anderson 6-3 Haupai Puha
Peter Wright 6-1 Damon Heta
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Kyle Anderson
Raymond van Barneveld 6-5 Cody Harris
Best of 11 legs
Saturday, August 24 (1800 local time)
James Wade 8-4 Peter Wright
Raymond van Barneveld 8-6 Daryl Gurney
Michael van Gerwen 8-5 Gary Anderson
Rob Cross 8-3 Ben Robb
Raymond van Barneveld 8-5 James Wade
Michael van Gerwen 8-3 Rob Cross
Michael van Gerwen 8-1 Raymond van Barneveld