Michael van Gerwen completed an unprecedented hat-trick of Players Championship titles this week with a thrilling deciding leg victory over Steve West on an astonishing day of action which saw THREE nine-darters hit at the Barnsley Metrodome on Thursday afternoon.
Van Gerwen, who defeated Mensur Suljovic and James Wilson on the previous two days of Pro Tour action, continued to break new ground on Thursday. For the second day in succession, ‘The Green Machine’ fired in a 9-darter, before edging out West to clinch his 19th ranking title of the year, already surpassing last year’s tally.
However, whilst Van Gerwen will deservedly receive the plaudits, it was a magnificent day for West, who by virtue of reaching his first ever PDC final, secured a spot at next month’s World Grand-Prix in Dublin at the expense of Vincent van der Voort.
West made a strong start to Thursday’s final by holding throw on tops, before Van Gerwen levelled up with a regulation 67 kill after the pair had traded maximums. However, the Dutchman secured a precious break in leg three, converting a brutal 164 checkout on the bullseye, after West had spurned two darts at double to hold throw.
The next two legs also went against the throw as both players were guilty of profligacy on the doubles, before Van Gerwen secured a two-leg lead at 4-2 after pinning D10.In the seventh leg, the Boxtel ace spurned two darts at tops to move within a leg of victory, and West exploited this by reducing the arrears to 4-3.
West, originally based in Essex but currently residing in Den Haag, then restored parity at four apiece after producing an inspired leg against the darts. He kicked off the leg with back-to-back maximums, before finding D5 to break MvG’s throw.
The 41-year-old then moved to within a leg of an unlikely triumph after converting a sublime 116 finish, but Van Gerwen forced a last-leg decider with a 76 checkout. West had the advantage of throw, but he was unable to secure a maiden PDC ranking title, as the world number one completed an astonishing hat-trick of wins in Barnsley this week.
Earlier in the day, the world number one began his campaign with an emphatic 6-1 victory over former world finalist Kevin Painter, before comfortably seeing off in-form Jonny Clayton by a 6-3 scoreline.
Van Gerwen produced his second perfect-leg of the week in his third-round tie against Joe Murnan- where he prevailed 6-2. MvG then eased past Simon Stevenson 6-1 in the last 16, before securing a spot in the semi-finals with a hard-fought 6-3 win over his young compatriot Berry van Peer.
‘Mighty Mike’ faced fourth seed Kim Huybrechts in the last four, after the Belgian had seen off the likes of Raymond van Barneveld, Michael Smith and Rowby-John Rodriguez. However, Van Gerwen was too good for the Belgian, easing to a 6-1 victory, and his ninth consecutive win against ‘The Hurricane’.
West kicked off the day with 6-3 victories over Mike Zuydwijk and William O’Connor respectively, before easing past young Dutch star Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-1 in round-three. West recorded a convincing 6-2 victory over former world finalist Simon Whitlock, before narrowly defeating Spanish star Cristo Reyes to reach the last four.
West faced former World-Youth finalist Ricky Evans in the semi-finals, who produced a series of magnificent displays to secure his spot at Alexandra Palace. Evans saw off Benito van de Pas, Mark Webster, Stephen Bunting and Chris Dobey en route to the last four, but he was edged out 6-4 by West in a tense affair.
Elsewhere, there was an incredible THREE nine-darters hit today, which increases the tally of perfect-legs to five within the last two days
Van Gerwen hit his second of the week in defeating Joe Murnan, whilst another Dutchman-Yordi Meeuwisse, fired in a 9-darter in his deciding-leg defeat to compatriot Benito van de Pas in round-one. Simon Whitlock also got in on the act in his second-round tie against Andrew Gilding, where the Aussie prevailed 6-3.
Nevertheless, it was a disappointing day for a number of big names. Second seed Peter Wright was dumped out in the opening round by Jeffrey de Zwaan, the young protégé of Raymond van Barneveld.
Wednesday’s finalist James Wilson was unable to replicate yesterday’s heroics as he was dismantled 6-1 by the resurgent Andy Jenkins, whilst World Grand-Prix champion Robert Thornton was also beaten by the same scoreline in round-one, going down to imposing Dutchman Vincent Kamphuis.
Elsewhere, James Wade was beaten in the last 64 for the second straight day after losing 6-2 to Barrie Bates, whilst Terry Jenkins secured his first victory of the week over Arron Monk, before suffering defeat against fellow veteran Andy Hamilton in the following round.
Dave Chisnall was shocked by promising young star Ted Evetts for the second time this week, whilst third seed Mensur Suljovic suffered a 6-3 loss against former Pro Tour winner Mark Walsh.
Vincent van der Voort also suffered a second-round loss to Darren Webster, which saw him lose his Grand-Prix spot after West’s heroic run to the final. Justin Pipe is another man who won’t be at the Grand-Prix. ‘The Force’ enjoyed decent runs on the opening two days in Barnsley, but suffered a first-round exit against Ronnie Baxter earlier today.