Van Gerwen Claims 5th Consecutive Dutch Darts Masters Title

Michael van Gerwen continued his European Tour dominance and claimed a 5th consecutive Dutch Darts Masters Title on Sunday evening in Zwolle.

Albeit far from a vintage performance, the World No.1 triumphed 8-5 in the Final, denying Irish qualifier Steve Lennon a first senior PDC title.

He eased into a 5-1 lead as nerves seemed to get the better of his opponent, but Lennon composed himself and fought valiantly to pull it back to 7-5, pinning double 18 to break the Dutchman’s throw.

Competing in his 80th Pro Tour Final, MVG fell across the line with his 3rd attempt at double 10 to lift an astonishing 24th European Tour Trophy.

Green Machine Off-Colour

It was, however, far from plain sailing for ‘Mighty Mike’ who missed countless doubles, operated largely with his B game on show and looked jaded as the tournament entered its final stages.

Indeed, his highest average of 102.78- in his 6-2 Quarter-Final blitz of Aussie Kyle Anderson- was lower than anything he produced in his stunning run to the title in Germany 7 days ago.

Daryl Gurney squandered 3 match darts to reach the final (Photo: Lawrence Lustig)

In fact, van Gerwen has Daryl Gurney to thank for letting him off the hook in a bizarre Semi-Final encounter which saw ‘Super Chin’ take a 6-2 lead in a race to 7 legs, despite averaging in the mid 80’s.

Gurney then missed one dart at double 12 in the 10th leg to knock out the reigning champion and it was enough to spark MVG’s comeback.

A first 180 of the match for van Gerwen in the 11th leg brought the crowd to its feet as they sensed a miraculous turnaround and began jeering the Northern Irishman as he approached the oche.

With the gap closed to 6-5, Gurney engineered 2 more match darts at double 18, but blew it.

Drawing on all his experience and showing battling qualities in abundance, van Gerwen pounced on double 16 to force a decider, rattled in a 15-darter, and somehow escaped to victory to prevent an all-Irish Final.

After subsequently defeating Lennon, MVG’s record now stands at 21 wins from his last 21 tournament finals.

An astonishing achievement that he will aim to extend further on Thursday night at the O2 arena in London, as the Premier League reaches its conclusion.

Lennon benefitted from a bye in Round 2 and made the most of it (Photo: Lawrence Lustig)

Luck of the Irish

Aided by the last minute withdrawal of World Champion Rob Cross due to injury, Steve Lennon continued his emergence on the PDC circuit.

Having survived match darts against Rowby-John Rodriguez in the first-round, Lennon received a bye into the third-round- thanks to Cross- and rode his luck once more against James Richardson.

Back-to-back visits of 26 in the deciding leg seemed to spell the end, but Richardson missed the Bullseye and Lennon snuck into the Quarter-Finals for a meeting with Mensur Suljovic.

When it seemed as though his game had faltered, a magnificent 143 checkout dispatched the Austrian and moved him into uncharted territory- a PDC ranking Semi-Final against out-of-form Belgian Kim Huybrechts.

Both struggled to get going until Lennon produced another inspired tonne-plus finish to break throw and lead 6-5, completing the victory with a checkout of 119 in the following leg.

Reaching the Final with a tournament average of just 88.68, it’s no surprise he came up short against MVG.

But Lennon capitalised on his opponents’ errors and the £10,000 reward for his efforts means he will be seeded for the first time in his career at the Players Championship events next weekend – meaning he will avoid another potential meeting with van Gerwen in the early rounds.

24 year-old Lennon has also vaulted into the top 50 in the Order of Merit and will now represent his country, as the Irish No.1, in the World Cup of Darts at the end of the month.

Bunting believes he is back to his best (Photo: Lawrence Lustig)

Bullet Fires Back

Stephen Bunting produced the most eye-catching display of the entire event, annihilating ‘Bully Boy’ Michael Smith 6-0 with the weekend high average of 106.09.

Granted, Smith has been suffering with pleurisy and probably should have pulled out of the event to focus on Premier League duty, like Rob Cross, but even a fully-fit Smith would have done well to live with Bunting on this occasion.

‘The Bullet’ claimed he was playing ‘the best darts of his career’ prior to defeating Krzysztof Ratajski and reaching a first European Tour Quarter-Final since June 2017.

While most would argue Bunting hasn’t returned to the levels that got him selected for Premier League duty in 2015, he has halted a slide down the rankings, and this newfound belief could see him challenge for a return to the top 16 in the coming months.

Lewis is a 4-time Major Winner (Photo: Lawrence Lustig)

Lewis’ Woes Continue

Adrian Lewis continued to under-perform on the big stage and looked bereft of confidence, slumping to a 6-4 first-round defeat against Dutch favourite Jan Dekker.

Lewis looked a mile away from the naturally gifted genius that lifted back-to-back World Titles.

Employing a slower, more deliberate style, ‘Jackpot’ registered his worst ever performance in a European Tour match- an array of sloppy darts left him with an average of 82.32.

Though recent results in Players Championship events had suggested the former World No.2 was recovering his form, fans will be increasingly worried about the 33 year-olds future at the top of the sport.

Ultimately, the choice to use Raymond van Barneveld’s darts at Ally Pally in the World Championships was a clear sign that Lewis’ head hasn’t been in the right place for some time.

Lewis no longer qualifies to represent England and will miss the World Cup of Darts for the first time since 2010.

Jones reached the World Championship Semi-Finals way back in 2006

Wanderer Returns

Wayne Jones clambered back into the top 64 with a first-round win over World Championship Semi-Finalist Jamie Lewis.

In the process, 53 year-old veteran Jones achieved his first tonne-plus average in Europe since overcoming a certain Phil Taylor in this very event, 6 years ago.

Aptly nicknamed ‘The Wanderer’, Jones had dropped down to the Challenge Tour at the end of 2016 but some strong performances saw him regain his Tour Card for this season.

Although yet to make a Quarter-Final in 2018, there are signs that the 1999 World Masters Finalist could still be a force within the game.

 

2018 Dutch Darts Masters Full Results

 

Friday May 11

First Round

Afternoon Session (1.15pm local time, 12.15pm BST)

Ryan Joyce 6-5 Michael Rosenauer

Dragutin Horvat 6-5 Toni Alcinas

James Richardson 6-4 Jason Cullen

Jermaine Wattimena 6-3 Adam Huckvale

Wayne Jones 6-1 Jamie Lewis

James Wilson 6-2 Johan Engstrom

Steve Lennon 6-5 Rowby-John Rodriguez

Kyle Anderson 6-3 Christian Kist

Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm BST)

Cameron Menzies 6-1 Kevin Munch

Terry Jenkins 6-2 Mike De Decker

Steve Beaton 6-5 Jeffrey de Graaf

Stephen Bunting 6-1 Tobias Mueller

Josh Payne 6-5 Jonny Clayton

Krzysztof Ratajski 6-2 Ricky Evans

Jan Dekker 6-4 Adrian Lewis

Cristo Reyes 6-3 James Wade

 

Saturday May 12

Second Round

Afternoon Session (1.15pm local time, 12.15pm BST)

Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Wayne Jones

John Henderson 3-6 James Richardson

Gerwyn Price 6-5 Dragutin Horvat

Mervyn King 6-4 Ryan Joyce

Joe Cullen 3-6 Jermaine Wattimena

Dave Chisnall 4-6 Cameron Menzies

Ian White 3-6 Kyle Anderson

Bye – Steve Lennon (Rob Cross withdrew)

Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm BST)

Simon Whitlock 6-4 Jan Dekker

Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Josh Payne

Michael Smith 0-6 Stephen Bunting

Peter Wright 6-4 James Wilson

Jelle Klaasen 2-6 Krzysztof Ratajski

Daryl Gurney 6-4 Cristo Reyes

Michael van Gerwen 6-0 Terry Jenkins

Darren Webster 6-4 Steve Beaton

 

Sunday May 13

Afternoon Session (1pm local time, 12pm BST)

Third Round

Steve Lennon 6-5 James Richardson

Mensur Suljovic 6-3 Simon Whitlock

Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Jermaine Wattimena

Peter Wright 6-3 Gerwyn Price

Stephen Bunting 6-3 Krzysztof Ratajski

Daryl Gurney 6-2 Mervyn King

Kyle Anderson 6-5 Cameron Menzies

Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Darren Webster

 

Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm BST)

Quarter-Finals

Steve Lennon 6-3 Mensur Suljovic

Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Peter Wright

Daryl Gurney 6-2 Stephen Bunting

Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Kyle Anderson

Semi-Finals

Steve Lennon 7-5 Kim Huybrechts

Michael van Gerwen 7-6 Daryl Gurney

Final

Michael van Gerwen 8-5 Steve Lennon