- PDC World Championship
Marvellous Van Gerwen secures first world title
Michael van Gerwen became only the sixth player to have his name etched on the iconic Sid Waddell trophy after outclassing Peter Wright with a 7-4 victory in the final of the PDC World Championship.
The Dutchman avenged his defeat to Phil Taylor in last year's final with a destructive performance on the Alexandra Stage, averaging 100 to earn a maiden world championship title.
With another world champion, Ronnie O'Sullivan, watching from the crowd, Van Gerwen started like a rocket with an immediate break of throw, brilliantly finishing 91 on double nine for the advantage. A narrow 167-out attempt went begging, but the Dutchman showed great composure to check out 38 with his final dart. Wright responded with a two-dart finish - one of his most impressive attributes throughout the event -to hold but the 'Green Machine' closed out the opening set for first blood.
Van Gerwen issued further tungsten punishment to Wright after the Brit wasted two darts at a double. Wright should have hit back, but missed double top to break and Van Gerwen cleaned up the second set without a hint of gratitude.
The first of many for Mighty Mike?
- It was never in doubt that, one day, Michael van Gerwen would win a PDC world championship on the biggest stage in darts.
- Now ESPN's Rob Bartlett thinks there will be a few more to come
A brilliant 177 set-up left Van Gerwen on 32 in the opening leg of the third set, which he saw off first time for an another break of throw. Starting the second leg with his first maximum of the night, another 140 followed for an easy hold. There was no stopping him as he won a seventh straight leg with a superb 108 out to move three sets to the good.
Van Gerwen made it nine legs on the spin as he pounced on yet more missed doubles from his opponent; this time 'Snakebite' squandered two darts at double eight to allow Van Gerwen the easiest of finishes. Wright finally found the green of double 16 to stop the rot and break back, but another maximum start ensured Van Gerwen a swift four-nil lead.
Wright found respite on the eastern side of the board with double four, but Van Gerwen showed no signs of letting up as he levelled proceedings early in the fifth set. However, a marvellous 130 finish on double five gave Wright a foothold and his first set on the scoreboard.
The momentum shifted at the start of the sixth set as Wright broke throw again. With Van Gerwen going off the boil, Wright finished 71 with his final dart to move further ahead. One dart for the set passed Wright by as he wired a 117, but he soon wrapped up with an unorthodox 100 finish on double 19 to make it 4-2.
Another maximum for Van Gerwen - this one the 589th of the tournament, surpassing the record of 588 set in 2012 - began an incredibly tight seventh set; Wright missed one dart at tops to make it 4-3 as Van Gerwen found double eight with his final dart to clinch the set and prompt the most erratic of his trademark celebrations.
That dart arguably won Van Gerwen the match as he confidently found his stride again. The swagger returned with another two-dart finish and a marvellous 180 to set up 36; despite nerves from both, the Dutchman finished on double two to move within one set of victory.
However, Wright continued to show his doggedness and ground out the ninth set to move back within three. Van Gerwen, clearly rattled by missed doubles in that set, was broken again, this time by a clinical 104 as Wright soon made it 6-4 on double 13.
Van Gerwen upped his pace in a bid to seal victory as a mechanical 124 finish replenished his swagger. Back-to-back 180's had him on a nine-dart attempt, but a missed sixth treble blighted his search for the perfect leg. Nevertheless, he levelled up to send the set into a decider.
Nerves came, but they passed as Van Gerwen finally found the middle of double top to become world champion and claim the bumper £250,000 prize.
Download ESPN's new UK sport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.