MIGHTY Michael van Gerwen crowned his debut McCoy’s Premier League Darts season by claiming the title in sensational fashion by coming from behind to defeat reigning champion Phil Taylor 10-8 in the final at The O2 in London.
Van Gerwen has enjoyed a superb first year in the tournament, finishing at the top of the league table following the 14 weekly rounds before emerging triumphant in the Play-Offs to claim the £150,000 title.
The 24-year-old Dutch ace firstly overcame James Wade 8-4 in the semi-finals, taking leads of 5-1 and 7-2 before holding off the 2009 champion’s fightback and some nervous doubling of his own to win through to the decider.
Taylor, who had seen off Raymond van Barneveld 8-4 in another high-quality semi-final, then raced into leads of 3-1 and 5-3 in the final before van Gerwen dominated the second half of the contest.
He took five successive legs to move into a 7-5 lead before Taylor levelled with a stunning 160 checkout, punishing his opponent for opting not to throw at the bullseye in the 14th leg.
Van Gerwen, though, regained his composure to move to the brink of victory at 9-7, and though Taylor punished two missed match darts to keep his hopes alive in the next, the Dutchman took out a sensational 132 bullseye finish to wrap up the title.
“It feels amazing,” said van Gerwen, who hit nine 180s and averaged 103.29 in the final.
“After the 14 weeks I was the best player because I was top of the table but I showed my class again today. I didn’t play my best game against James, but in the final after the break I showed that I deserved this trophy.
“I’m so happy with this trophy. In the first half of the final, Phil was the better player but after the break I played really well and my finishing was good at the right moments.
“I’d already missed two darts to win the game but they were right on the wire and it was a bit unlucky, but after that the 132 was amazing, absolutely great.”
Van Gerwen had played at The O2 a year ago when he lost to James Hubbard in the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship final – but he has surged up to second in the world rankings since, winning the World Grand Prix and reaching the World Championship finals in the process.
“Last year after I lost in the World Youth Championship final I said to myself that I hoped one day I could play here with the big boys, and a year later I win it, which is incredible,” added van Gerwen.
“Not many people have beaten Phil Taylor in finals and he doesn’t like losing finals, so to do this gives me a lot of confidence because he’s the greatest player ever.
“It’s my biggest title yet and I hope I can win a lot more of these titles in the future.”
Taylor had been bidding to win a seventh Premier League Darts title and averaged over 104 in both of his matches during the Play-Offs, but had to settle for the £75,000 runner-up prize.
“I’m annoyed at myself for missing doubles but Michael was brilliant and the 132 to win the final was a great shot,” said Taylor. “If I could have got to nine-each then anything could have happened, but it wasn’t to be.
“I thought the 160 was going to rock him, but then he kicked in for the next leg with a 180, and it was a blow-for-blow game.
“He deserved to win and I’ll go back and work hard for the next tournament now. I’m after him!”
Van Barneveld suffered the agony of a sixth defeat in the Premier League semi-finals since he first appeared in the event in 2006, although he played his part in a superb contest with Taylor.
The Dutch star opened their semi with a 180 and finished 116 to lead 3-2, only for Taylor to take the next five legs to put himself in command at 7-3, taking out a stunning 164 checkout in the process as he moved into the decider.
“Phil played his best game of the season against me and deserved to win,” said van Barneveld. “It’s hard to get in your rhythm against him but he was awesome.
“I probably missed just one or two crucial doubles but it was a fantastic game from Phil. He was ready for me.”
Wade, the 2009 champion, was appearing in the semi-finals for a fourth time, but admitted that he was disappointed with his finishing as he went down to van Gerwen.
“I wasn’t good enough and Michael was, and that’s the story of it,” said Wade. “He punished me for being messy, and he’s a great player.
“I missed too many doubles and that’s the part of my game which wins me games and should have pulled me through this. If I was hitting my doubles like I normally would, I’d have been in the final.”
Another young prospect enjoyed glory at The O2 on Thursday, as St Helens’ Michael Smith swept past Kettering’s Ricky Evans 6-1 to win the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship title.
Evans had taken out 106 to win the final’s opening leg, but Smith won the next six without reply to pick up a £10,000 first prize.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Smith, who is managed and mentored by former Premier League Darts champion Gary Anderson. “Ricky got off to a good start but I was waiting for him to run out of steam and for the occasion to get to him.
“When I got 2-1 up and opened with a 180, I knew I had him and I wanted to enjoy every leg. My finishing was too good for him, my doubles went in first or second dart and I outscored him, so I’m really pleased.
“It felt terrifying on that stage but I’ve been on the big stage before and I wanted to play the board, and I did that.
“Michael van Gerwen lost twice in the World Youth Championship final and you only have to see where he is now to know that anything’s possible. I’m nearly in the world’s top 32 but I want to push on and try and get into the top 16.”
McCoy’s Premier League Darts
May 16 – The O2, London
McCoy’s Premier League Darts Semi-Finals
Raymond van Barneveld 4-8 Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen 8-4 James Wade
PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship Final
Ricky Evans 1-6 Michael Smith
McCoy’s Premier League Darts Final
Phil Taylor 8-10 Michael van Gerwen
Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor
0-0 – Raymond van Barneveld won the bull and will throw first
1-0 – van Barneveld makes a thrilling start, opening with a 180 and adding a 140 before finishing double eight for a 13-dart finish.
1-1 – Taylor levels by taking out 85 on the bullseye.
2-1 – van Barneveld holds throw by finishing 68 to win leg three.
2-2 – Taylor takes out 59 to win leg four.
3-2 – The Dutch ace takes out 116 on tops to claim the fifth leg as the pair continue to trade legs.
3-3 – Taylor misses the bull to take out 121, but van Barneveld cannot finish 156 and the reigning champion returns to finish double eight.
3-4 – van Barneveld misses a dart at double 16 to finish 104, and Taylor takes out 62 on tops to secure the game’s first break.
3-5 – Taylor takes out double 19 for a 13-darter as he moves two legs clear.
3-6 – Taylor opens with a 177, but van Barneveld lands a 180 and a 140 to leave 81 after nine darts. However, the Dutchman misses the bull to finish 81, and Taylor takes out a stunning 164 checkout, comprising of two treble 19s and the bull, to move further ahead.
3-7 – Taylor moves a leg away from the final by hitting double ten.
4-7 – van Barneveld opens with two 180s, and although a potential nine-darter goes begging, he does return to hit double two to win the leg.
4-8 – Taylor is first to a finish, and finishes double 16 to wrap up his place in the final with a 104.68 average.
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
0-0 – James Wade won the bull and will throw first
1-0 – Wade misses tops for a 110 finish, and van Gerwen secures an immediate break of throw by landing double 12.
2-0 – Wade misses four darts at doubles top, ten and five across two visits, and van Gerwen punishes him by hitting tops.
3-0 – van Gerwen hits a 180 before Wade replies with a maximum to leave 20 – but the Dutchman finishes 87 on double five to win a third straight leg.
3-1 – van Gerwen lands a 180 but can only watch whilst waiting on 40 as Wade takes out 112 on double 16 to get off the mark with a break of throw.
4-1 – van Gerwen posts 174 and finishes 87 on double 18 for a 12-darter as he breaks back once more.
5-1 – Wade kicks off with a 180, but van Gerwen wins the leg by pinning double eight – the Dutchman has now hit five doubles from six attempts.
5-2 – van Gerwen lands a 180, but Wade takes out double eight to win his second leg of the game.
6-2 – van Gerwen lands tops to move four legs clear once again.
7-2 – Wade misses the bull for an 88 finish, and van Gerwen moves a leg away from the final with tops.
7-3 – van Gerwen lands a fourth maximum of the game, but is unable to punish misses from Wade at double top at ten when he cannot land double 16 for the game, and the left-hander pins double ten to break throw and keep his hopes alive.
7-4 – The Dutch ace kicks off the leg with a 177 but misses four more darts at double 16 to seal victory, and Wade posts another double ten finish to continue the fightback
8-4 – Wade misses five darts to continue the fightback, and van Gerwen – eventually – lands double top to seal his place in the final.
Ricky Evans v Michael Smith
0-0 – Ricky Evans won the bull and will throw first
1-0 – Evans settles any nerves with a fine 106 checkout to take the opening leg.
1-1 – Smith finishes 95 on the bull to level the game.
1-2 – St Helens’ Smith lands double ten to break throw and move ahead.
1-3 – Smith lands a 180 as he’s first to a finish, and although he misses two darts on the wire of double six, he returns to hit the bed and move two legs clear.
1-4 – Smith takes out 64 to break throw again and edge closer to the title.
1-5 – Smith opens with a 180 and has enough breathing space to initially miss six darts at a double before hitting double one.
1-6 – Evans misses double top and ten to hit back, and Smith lands double two to secure the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship title.
McCoy’s Premier League Darts Final
Phil Taylor v Michael van Gerwen
0-0 – Michael van Gerwen wins the bull and will throw first
0-1 – van Gerwen draws first blood, defying a maximum from Taylor by hitting tops for a 13-dart finish.
1-1 – van Gerwen misses double seven to finish 134, and Taylor lands tops to level.
2-1 – The pair trade 180s, with Taylor’s maximum leaving 16 and allowing him – when van Gerwen misses two darts at tops – to hit double eight with his third dart to move ahead.
3-1 – Taylor lands a 174 as he breaks throw with a 13-darter, ending on tops.
3-2 – van Gerwen takes out 66 on double 18 to hit back to within a leg.
4-2 – Taylor opens with a 180 and lands tops for a 14-dart finish to edge away.
5-2 – Taylor secures his second break of throw of the game with a brilliant 11-darter, hitting a 180 to leave 81 before landing double 12.
5-3 – van Gerwen pulls back another leg, opening with a 180 and completing a 14-darter on double eight.
5-4 – van Gerwen lands a 177, and when Taylor misses double 18 and double nine, the Dutchman lands double ten to continue his fightback.
5-5 – The Dutch table-topper hits back-to-back 180s, and when Taylor’s double trouble continues with three misses at tops, the youngster levels by posting double eight.
5-6 – van Gerwen scores 140 and 180, initially missing tops for an 85 finish before Taylor wires double eight for a 136 checkout, allowing the Dutch ace in on double five.
5-7 – Taylor misses double 16, and van Gerwen wins a fifth successive leg by taking out 65 on tops.
6-7 – van Gerwen hits a 180 but misses two darts at double 15, and Taylor this time finishes 65 to win his first leg in six.
7-7 – van Gerwen hits another maximum, to leave 87, but opts not to throw for the bull and leaves 32 – only for Taylor to superbly take out 160 to level a thrilling contest!
7-8 – van Gerwen opens with 180 and 140, and although he misses three darts at tops, he lands the bed at the fourth time of asking to edge back ahead.
7-9 – Taylor misses double 16 and double eight to finish 74, and van Gerwen hits tops for a 13-dart finish.
8-9 – Taylor hits a 174 but van Gerwen lands a 180 to leave 64 – only to miss two darts at double eight for the title as Taylor finishes 72 on tops to stay in the game.
8-10 – Taylor leaves 40 after 12 darts, but van Gerwen brilliantly takes out 132 on the bull to seal the McCoy’s Premier League Darts title.