Michael Van Gerwen claimed his third World Matchplay title on Sunday night defeating the ‘Iceman’ Gerwyn Price 18-14 in the final to scoop the £200,000 cash prize and the coveted Phil Taylor trophy on the Winter Gardens stage in Blackpool. ‘MVG’ had to battle back from behind to be victorious in a pulsating battle, with the final being labelled one of the best in the history of the Matchplay.
Despite being the bookmakers favourite for the majority of the tournment, except on the final night when Price was heavily fancied, Van Gerwen did prove the doubters wrong by winning in Blackpool. There were some pundits and fans who felt that his recent surgery and time off could negatively affect his game and result in an early exit.
Moreover, ‘MVG’ was faced with the tougher side of the draw in his route to the final. ‘the Green Machine’ had to overcome former Matchplay finalist and two time World Champion Adrian Lewis, the Masters Champion Joe Cullen, former UK Open Champion Nathan Aspinall and the 2020 Matchplay Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh. To have defeated all these top players, including former World Champion Price in the final, is immensely impressive and shows that can never write off Michael van Gerwen.
The opening exchanges of the final did not go in Van Gerwen’s favour as Gerwyn Price raced into a 4-0 lead punishing poor form on the outer ring by ‘MVG’. ‘The Green Machine’ was agonisingly close to responding in the perfect way in the fifth leg as he hit 8 perfect darts but his attempt at double 12 was just the wrong side of the wire. Had the 144 finish been taken out, it would have been a second nine-dart finish in consecutive days at the Winter Gardens with Gerwyn Price having hit perfection in his semi-final clash against Danny Noppert.
‘MVG’ did end up taking that fifth leg with a 10 darter to finally get himself going in the final heading into the first break.
Van Gerwen came flying out the blocks in the second session breaking the Price throw for a second time in the match with a majestic 160 checkout to make the score 4-3 and move one leg away from levelling the final.
However, despite a mightily impressive average of 106, ‘MVG’s’ doubling woes continued as he missed six darts at double in the eighth leg allowing the ‘Iceman’ to swoop in and break the Van Gerwen throw to re-establish a two leg lead.
‘The Green Machine’ had missed 17 darts at double throughout the match but was still averaging 103 as he was firing in maximums for fun. Despite the brilliant scoring, the Dutchman headed into the second break 6-4 down.
The third session started with Price taking the eleventh leg, ironically in eleven darts, but ‘MVG’ fired back instantly with a brilliant 82 finish on the bullseye as he somehow squeezed his dart in to keep the deficit down to two. Legs of 12 and 14 darts helped Price open up a four leg lead but the power scoring of ‘the Green Machine’ was not stopping as he fired in his tenth maximum on his way to a 12 dart leg. The score heading into the third break was 9-6 with ‘the Iceman’ still in control.Embed from Getty Images
Back to back maximums allowed ‘MVG’ to produce an 11 dart hold of throw and Van Gerwen was in the mood for yet another sensational ton plus checkout in the eighteenth leg as he pinned double 10 to checkout a 140 finish and increase the pressure on the World Number 1.
‘The Iceman’ wasn’t quite showing the same form he was in the earlier sessions and Van Gerwen was in no mood to be sympathetic to his opponent as he came back from two legs down to level the contest at 12-12, the tension rising and rising as both players inched closer to the finish line. Both Price and Van Gerwen needed just six legs to be crowned Champion.
Both players knew the importance of holding their throw and this showed as the next four legs were successfully held. However, this all changed in the 29th leg as Gerwyn Price was unable to produce a tops tops finish to take out 99, and he was punished by ‘MVG’ who brilliantly checked out 130 to ruthlessly break the Price throw and take the lead for the first time in the match.Embed from Getty Images
Van Gerwen was now in the driving seat in the final and he produced his fourth ton plus finish taking out 114 in the 31st leg to move three legs ahead, and within one of a much desired third Matchplay title.
At the start of the 32nd leg it looked as if the pressure might have been getting to Van Gerwen as he began the leg with a poor score of 49 whilst Price kicked off with a maximum. However, the Welshman was unable to take out 88 on the bull and ‘MVG’ did not care to give ‘the Iceman’ anymore chances as he majestically wrapped up the victory with a 121 checkout doing what his opponent was unable to with a brilliant dart at the bull.
It was a fantastic victory for ‘the Green Machine’ who had to battle hard throughout the tournament as he was not at his best in some matches, but he showed his quality when he needed it most to win a trophy that means so much to him.
‘To put my hands on the trophy again means the world to me. To come back against a player in his form means a lot to me.’Michael van Gerwen: Sky Sports
Despite not securing the trophy, it has been a strong week for Gerwyn Price. This was the first time that ‘the Iceman’ has progressed past the quarter-finals of the Matchplay and he became the first player in history to hit four televised nine-darters in the same calendar year.
Most importantly though, after Peter Wright lost to Dimitri Van den Bergh in the quarter-finals, Price’s victory over Jose De Sousa allowed the Welshman to reclaim the World Number 1 spot, which he will be desperate to hold on to.
Is MVG Back?
Despite a fairly poor showing on the doubles from Van Gerwen, this was still a very impressive performance from the Dutchman. He hit 15 180s throughout the course of the match, just four off the record of 19 maximums hit by Adrian Lewis in the 2013 final against Phil Taylor.
Moreover, ‘MVG’ finished the match with an average of 101 which is very difficult to maintain over 32 legs, showcasing the elite level ‘the Green Machine’ was playing at. To maintain that average with 34 missed darts at doubles tells you just how strong his power scoring was.
This is the second major title that Van Gerwen has won this year after his Premier League victory over Joe Cullen in June. Add to that the three European tour events that ‘MVG’ has won and it has been an admirable year so far for Michael van Gerwen and he feels he is on the way back to his best form.
‘The good times are coming again.’Michael van Gerwen: Sky Sports
With the titles he is winning and the form he showed in that final, it is hard to disagree.