World number one Michael van Gerwen produced a stunning performance to defeat defending champion Gary Anderson 7–3 in a record-breaking final to secure a second Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) World Championship.
Van Gerwen, whose semi-final victory over Raymond van Barneveld came with an all-time tournament high three-dart average of 114.05, proved too good for two-time champion Anderson, averaging 108.06 to overpower the Scot. “I think I played absolutely phenomenal darts all tournament through, especially in the semi-final and final,” the Dutchman said. “I’m a happy man at the moment, I fought so hard all year for this.”
In a high quality contest a record-breaking 42 maximum scores of 180 were hit, the most ever in a televised darts match, while both players averaged over 100 in all ten sets.
All 10 legs in the opening two sets went with the throw, with van Gerwen winning the first set and Anderson the second, before the Scot landed a 52 checkout for the first break of throw in the opening leg of the third set. Van Gerwen responded, breaking back immediately but Anderson finished 24 on double 12 for another break of throw in the set’s final leg to take a 2–1 lead.
Van Gerwen returned the favour in set four, breaking the defending champion’s throw in the final leg to level the game at 2–2 before breaking again in the second leg of set five to set up a 3–0 legs whitewash and edge 3–2 in front in sets. From then on the world’s best player put his foot on the accelerator, decisively breaking the Anderson throw in set six’s third leg, set seven’s second leg and the third leg of set eight on his way to five successive sets and a 6–2 set advantage.
With van Gerwen throwing for the match in set nine defending champion Anderson put up a spirited fight back, determined not to relinquish his crown without a fight. Anderson had unsuccessful darts at double in every leg on van Gerwen’s throw before producing a 12 dart leg in the set’s decisive fifth leg to finally secure the break and close the gap to 6-3. That leg saw Anderson hit back-to-back 180s that took the match total to 35, surpassing the previous televised record, and the tournament total to a staggering 700.
But van Gerwen was not to be denied, and after the opening four legs of set ten went with the throw he delivered an eye-catching 85 checkout on the bullseye to break Anderson’s throw in the final leg to wrap up a 7-3 victory that secured his second world title.
Despite averaging 104.93 and hitting 22 180s—the most ever in a single game—Anderson found himself blown-away by the performance of van Gerwen as he sought to emulate Eric Bristow and Phil Taylor by winning three consecutive World titles. “There was not a lot I could do about it”, admitted the Scot. “After the first four sets, he strolled on.” Despite relinquishing the title he won in 2015 and 2016 Anderson was content with his performance in reaching a third successive World Championship final. “Three years, three finals. I’m over the moon with that.”
Van Gerwen’s latest triumph followed a staggering twenty-five tournament victories in 2016 and means he now simultaneously holds every major PDC title. “This (the World Championship) is the most important one.” van Gerwen claimed. “Winning trophies is something I love, I hope I can do this for the next few years. I showed everyone this year what I am capable of. I feel absolutely phenomenal”.
—Alistair Sargent, Correspondent (Sport)