Michael van Gerwen enjoyed a dream night at the World Darts Championship on Sunday evening, breezing into the last 16 with a blistering straight sets win over Ricky Evans, less than an hour after defending champion Peter Wright crashed out of the tournament.
Wright defeated Van Gerwen on New Year’s Day to lift his maiden World Championship crown, although the Scot’s title defence was ended by a clinical Gabriel Clemens, who kept his cool to defeat the colourful Scot in a dramatic sudden-death decider.
Ahead of the tournament, Wright bullishly claimed that Gerwyn Price was the only player that could challenge him for the Sid Waddell Trophy, insisting that Van Gerwen had ‘no chance’ of lifting a fourth title in the capital.
The battle for the world No 1 spot is an interesting sub-plot at this year’s World Championship, but Wright’s exit combined with Van Gerwen’s victory ensures that only Price can dethrone MvG at the summit, but that would require the Welshman to win the coveted title for the first time.
Reflecting on Snakebite’s exit, Van Gerwen conceded that he was pleased to see a direct rival exit the tournament, before adding that Wright’s comments ahead of this year’s showpiece had spectacularly backfired.
“It’s always nice if a direct opponent of yourself is out of the tournament. Of course you always want to do it yourself, but if anyone else does it – fair play, I’ll take it,” said Van Gerwen in his post-match press conference.
“Of course [comments] it backfired on him but we all know what Peter Wright is like. Every interview he does he talks nonsense. He says it after every loss, he says it after every win.
“Of course he is a phenomenal player and he probably doesn’t need that, because on his own ability, I think he can do a lot of damage. If you talk so much crap, things like that will happen to you.”
Van Gerwen certainly did his talking on the dart board on Sunday evening, sweeping aside an excellent Evans in just over 27 minutes. ‘Rapid’ averaged over 100, fired in six 180s and converted 50% of his attempts at double, yet remarkably was unable to win a set.
The world No 1 averaged 106.85, crashed in seven maximums and boasted an impressive checkout conversion rate of 57%, which included a fabulous 150 checkout in set two, after Evans had wired the bull for a 167 to level up proceedings at one set apiece.
It was a ruthless display from the three-time world champion, and he continues his bid for world title number four with a clash against Joe Cullen for a place in the last eight, after ‘The Rockstar’ saw off World Cup winner Jonny Clayton in a thrilling last-leg shootout.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC