World Matchplay: MvG back to his best after maiden Winter Gardens win
Darting juggernaut Michael van Gerwen’s ninth major PDC title triumph, and his first World Matchplay trophy, always held an air of inevitability about it, despite rival James Wade beginning on the front foot.
The title Wade clinched back in 2007 eluded him for the fifth time in six finals, despite this Matchplay trophy initially threatening to put The Machine back on the map, as Mighty Mike overcame a surprisingly slow start to fire his way to an 18-12 victory.
Underdog Wade was not at the races, with an average of just 90.37, while a bullish Van Gerwen fought back in predictably powerful style to make it five legs apiece, and from then on there was no knocking the dominant Dutchman, who at one point clocked up a cracking checkout of 144, off his stride.
In contrast to his previous performance, when The Machine assuredly shocked the Winter Gardens with a famous and long-overdue win against Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, Wade was made to pay for poor timing and fluffed several chances to take legs away from his insatiable opponent. Something you simply cannot afford to do against an arrowsmith of Van Gerwen’s calibre.
There was lacklustre finishing from both, however, with Van Gerwen adding after the celebrations that “we both struggled a bit and couldn’t get going for some reason, maybe the pressure of holding this title. James’ scoring power wasn’t there and he was hanging in there in the game with his finishing.”
Bold Mighty Mike eventually took the bull by the horns, as is his style, racking up a magnificent nine Matchplay final maximums overall, though the coveted nine dart finish escaped him. At age 26, this was a defining win for the darting prodigy and one which may be looked back upon as rather symbolic, as the world number one took Taylor’s crown in this tournament.
Having stolen the limelight back from The Power, who eased to trophy captures in the recent World Cup of Darts and Japan Masters, two competitions where Van Gerwen looked off-pace and underwhelmed, it was vital for Mighty Mike to claim this prize. In a calendar year which had so far only yielded prestigious PDC victories in The Masters and UK Open, Van Gerwen needed to finish his campaign with a bang, instead of petering out.
After losing his World Championship title to Gary Anderson, Mighty Mike and his distinctive darting style are 6/4 favourites with Coral now to reclaim it this coming winter. Van Gerwen will still have plenty to warm him up before then, however, as August brings a tour of Australia, with Darts Masters in Perth, Sydney and Auckland, before October gives the superstar a chance to retain the World Grand Prix.