Dimitri Van den Bergh became the first debutant to win the World Matchplay since the inaugural edition of 1994 after a career-changing 18-10 victory over Gary Anderson in Milton Keynes.
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In his first appearance in a PDC major final, the two-time World Youth champion is also celebrating his first senior title of any kind at the age of 26 thanks to this dominant display over one of the all-time darting greats.
Anderson struggled throughout a contest and incredibly had to wait until the 24th leg before he hit his one and only 180 of a match that bizarrely only featured four - but that can't take anything away from Van den Bergh's sparkling display that fast improved as his confidence grew, particularly on his high finishing.
The 200/1 pre-tournament outsider, who is the first player from Belgium to win a PDC major, landed a spectacular checkout of 170 along the way, while further finishes from 132 and 124 knocked the stuffing out of the lacklustre Flying Scotsman.
Following a slow start from both players, the Big Fish completed a classy 12-darter in the 12th leg and came as an immediate response to Anderson's sole ton+ finish from 130 that had put him ahead for the last time in the match at 6-5.
Van den Bergh won five of the next six legs to storm into control and his subsequent 124 checkout on the bullseye at 12-8 up was another sucker punch for the 2018 World Matchplay champion, denying him a much-needed opportunity from 54.
But the fatal blow was landed in the next. After Anderson agonisingly missed the bullseye for a 127 finish, the DreamMaker rubbed salt into the wounds by hitting the same target for a 12-darter completing 132 checkout and there was no way back from that.
The two-time world champion did manage to pull a couple of legs back but with the second of those coming when 16-9 down, he was just merely delaying the inevitable, especially the way he was playing.
Van den Bergh averaged an impressive 98.31 compared to his opponent's 92.81 while he pinned 18 of his 40 attempts at double as Anderson spurned 20 of his 30. He hit four ton+ checkouts overall, including a 121 in the ninth leg, and that took his tournament tally of those to 12 from just five games.
Another of the sport's fastest rising stars in Nathan Aspinall hit the Big Fish to win his maiden major final against Rob Cross at the 2019 UK Open, of course, and used that as the springboard to reach the world's top 10 as well as earning Premier League selection - and this is certainly the path Van den Bergh appears to be on now.
The Belgian star's cheque for £150,000 means he soars up to 12th from 26th on the PDC Order of Merit, which will see him qualify for all the big majors as a seeded player and almost certainly secure one of those coveted invitations for next year's Premier League.
Van den Bergh headed to Milton Keynes as a 200/1 outsider with some bookies despite his impressive track record of reaching four major quarter-finals at this stage of his career, including two World Championships and this year's UK Open, as well as beating Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson in front of 20,000 fans to reach the final of a non-ranking televised World Series event in Germany two years ago.
More crucially, however, was the three months he'd spent as a lockdown lodger at Peter Wright's house while he waited for the all-clear to return home to Belgium.
While the impact wasn't noticed immediately during the PDC Home Tour and the Summer Series, the lessons he learned from the current world champion and multi-major winner clearly helped him take the next step in his blossoming career.
Indeed, the Antwerp thrower was quick to thank the Wright family during his post-match interviews shortly after lifting the Phil Taylor Trophy aloft in front of the screen of fans at the empty Marshall Arena.
Van den Bergh told www.pdc.tv: "My dreams have come true, what a beautiful trophy, I’m so happy. I have so much respect for Gary, to beat him is showing me how far I have come and now I know I can win, I can’t believe this."
"The world is going through a very difficult time and the PDC, Barry Hearn and Matthew Porter have given me a chance to live my dreams when it hasn’t been possible for other, so thank you to them."
As for Wright's hospitality, the 26-year-old said: "I spent a lot of time with Peter Wright over the lockdown and he has taught me so much, I’m so grateful to him and his family for everything they did for me during a difficult time."
Van den Bergh was born just a month before Larry Butler beat Dennis Priestley to win the inaugural edition back in 1994, and last night became just fourth player to reach a final on debut, following on from Ronnie Baxter (1998), Wayne Mardle (2003) and James Wade (2006).
He was also the seventh unseeded player to reach the final along with Butler (1994), Peter Evison (1996), Baxter (1998), Richie Burnett (2001), Mark Dudbridge (2004) and Wade (2006), while he's now become the third to have won it.
Anderson's run to the final did at least help him defend a chunk of ranking money he won at the Winter Gardens in 2018 but a cheque of £70,000 won't be too much consolation for a legend striving to win the ninth major PDC title in his 20th final.
Victory would have also seen him join Phil Taylor, Rod Harrington and Michael van Gerwen in an elite group of players who have won this title more than once but now he'll have to lick his wounds and eye the remaining majors this year.
The eight-time major winner, who hit his Blackpool nine-darter on this day in 2018 against Joe Cullen, hadn't really been happy with any of his performances throughout the tournament and even after beating Michael Smith in the semi-finals claimed: "I can’t throw me darts right, it’s driving me bonkers."
After this defeat, which ends his perfect behind-closed-doors major record having won the 2018 UK Open, the 49-year-old said: "He played well right from the off, I just wasn’t there tonight. All credit to Dimitri, he is a lovely lad and deserves his win tonight.
"I’ve got a few weeks off now to sort a few things out, I had a few issues with my grip and darts dropping low but no excuses, he deserves it."
Final Stats: Anderson 10-18 Van den Bergh
- Anderson: 92.81
- Van den Bergh: 98.31
- Anderson: 1
- Van den Bergh: 3
- Anderson: 10/33 (33.33%)
- Van den Bergh: 18/40 (45%)
- Anderson: 130
- Van den Bergh: 170, 132, 124, 121
Routes to the World Matchplay final
- Rd 1: 10-5 Justin Pipe
Doubles: 10/28 (35.71%)
100+ Checkouts: 120, 112
- Rd 2: 11-7 James Wade
Doubles: 11/27 (40.74%)
100+ Checkouts: N/A
- QF: 16-12 Simon Whitlock
Doubles: 16/51 (31.37%)
100+ Checkouts: N/A
- SF: 18-16 Michael Smith
Doubles: 18/41 (42.9%)
100+ Checkouts: 128, 127, 116
DIMITRI VAN DEN BERGH
- Rd 1: 10-5 Nathan Aspinall
Doubles: 10/24 (41.67%)
100+ Checkouts: 156, 103
- Rd 2: 11-9 Joe Cullen
Doubles: 11/32 (34.38%)
100+ Checkouts: 138, 118, 105, 104
- QF: 16-12 Adrian Lewis
Doubles: 16/39 (41.03%)
100+ Checkouts: 164, 104
- SF: 17-15 Glen Durrant
Doubles: 17/46 (36.96%)
100+ Checkouts: N/A
World Matchplay tournament stats
- Tournament Average: 95.08
- 180s: 28
- Checkout percentage: 37% (65/177)
- 100+ checkouts: SIX: 130, 128, 127, 120, 116, 112
- Legs won/lost: 65/60
DIMITRI VAN DEN BERGH
- Tournament Average: 97.89
- 180s: 31
- Checkout percentage: 39.78% (72/121)
- 100+ checkouts: TWELVE: 170, 164, 156, 138, 132, 124, 121, 118, 105, 104, 104, 103
- Legs won/lost: 72/51
Gary Anderson v Dimitri van den Bergh: Head to head
- Overall H2H: 1-1
- Televised Meetings: 0-1
7-8: 2017 German Darts Masters (SF)
- Other Meetings: 1-2
5-1: 2020 PDC Home Tour (Last 128)
- Nickname: The Flying Scotsman
- Date of Birth: 22/12/1970
- Nationality: Scottish
- World Ranking/Seeding: 8
- Walk-on music: Jump Around, House of Pain
- Pre-tournament Sky Bet Odds: 14/1
- Career highlights: Eight major PDC titles including 2x World Champion (2015, 2016), World Matchplay champion (2018), 2x Premier League champion (2011, 2015), UK Open champion (2018), Players Championship Finals champion (2014), Champions League of Darts winner (2018), six televised World Series titles, 2019 World Cup winner (2019) and 32 non-televised PDC titles, runner-up in 10 other major finals including the World Championship, World Grand Prix & Grand Slam of Darts
DIMITRI VAN DEN BERGH
- Nickname: The Dreammaker
- Date of Birth: 08/07/1994
- Nationality: Belgian
- World Ranking: 26
- Walk-on music: Happy, Pharrel Williams
- Pre-tournament Sky Bet Odds: 100/1
- World Matchplay best: Debut
- Career highlights: Two-time World Youth champion (2017, 2018), quarter-finalist of five senior televised tournaments including the 2020 and 2020 World Championship
World Matchplay Darts: Tournament Results
Seedings in brackets. Players must win by two clear legs
ROUND ONE (Best of 19 legs)
- (1) Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Brendan Dolan
- (16) Simon Whitlock 10-4 Ryan Joyce
- (8) Gary Anderson 10-5 Justin Pipe
- (9) James Wade 12-10 Keegan Brown
- (4) Rob Cross 8-10 Gabriel Clemens
- (13) Krzysztof Ratajski 10-4 Jermaine Wattimena
- (5) Michael Smith 10-3 Jonny Clayton
- (12) Mensur Suljovic 12-10 Jamie Hughes
- (2) Peter Wright 10-8 Jose De Sousa
- (15) Glen Durrant 10-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan
- (7) Daryl Gurney 10-5 Ricky Evans
- (10) Dave Chisnall 6-10 Vincent van der Voort
- (3) Gerwyn Price 7-10 Danny Noppert
- (14) Adrian Lewis 11-9 Steve Beaton
- (6) Nathan Aspinall 5-10 Dimitri Van den Bergh
- (11) Ian White 12-13 Joe Cullen
ROUND TWO (Best of 21 legs)
- (1) Michael van Gerwen 4-11 Simon Whitlock (16)
- (8) Gary Anderson 11-8 James Wade (9)
- Gabriel Clemens 10-12 Krzysztof Ratajski (13)
- (5) Michael Smith 14-12 Mensur Suljovic (12)
- (2) Peter Wright 8-11 Glen Durrant (15)
- (7) Daryl Gurney 5-11 Vincent van der Voort
- Danny Noppert 7-11 Adrian Lewis (14)
- Dimitri Van den Bergh 11-9 Joe Cullen
QUARTER-FINALS (Best of 31 legs)
- (16) Simon Whitlock 12-16 Gary Anderson (8)
- (13) Krzysztof Ratajski 13-16 Michael Smith (5)
- (15) Glen Durrant 18-16 Vincent van der Voort
- (14) Adrian Lewis 12-16 Dimitri Van den Bergh
SEMI-FINALS (Best of 33 legs)
- (8) Gary Anderson 18-16 Michael Smith (5)
- (15) Glen Durrant v Dimitri Van den Bergh
FINAL (Best of 35 legs) (2030 BST, Sky Sports)
- (8) Gary Anderson v Dimitri Van den Bergh
World Matchplay Past Finals
- 1994 - Larry Butler 16-12 Dennis Priestley
- 1995 - Phil Taylor 16-11 Dennis Priestley
- 1996 - Peter Evison 16-14 Dennis Priestley
- 1997 - Phil Taylor 16-11 Alan Warriner
- 1998 - Rod Harrington 19-17 Ronnie Baxter
- 1999 - Rod Harrington 19-17 Peter Manley
- 2000 - Phil Taylor 18-12 Alan Warriner
- 2001 - Phil Taylor 18-10 Richie Burnett
- 2002 - Phil Taylor 18-16 John Part
- 2003 - Phil Taylor 18-12 Wayne Mardle
- 2004 - Phil Taylor 18-8 Mark Dudbridge
- 2005 - Colin Lloyd 18-12 John Part
- 2006 - Phil Taylor 18-9 James Wade
- 2007 - James Wade 18-7 Terry Jenkins
- 2008 - Phil Taylor 18-11 James Wade
- 2009 - Phil Taylor 18-4 Terry Jenkins
- 2010 - Phil Taylor 18-12 Raymond van Barneveld
- 2011 - Phil Taylor 18-8 James Wade
- 2012 - Phil Taylor 18-15 James Wade
- 2013 - Phil Taylor 18-13 Adrian Lewis
- 2014 - Phil Taylor 18-9 Michael van Gerwen
- 2015 - Michael van Gerwen 18-12 James Wade
- 2016 - Michael van Gerwen 18-10 Phil Taylor
- 2017 - Phil Taylor 18-8 Peter Wright
- 2018 - Gary Anderson 21-19 Mensur Suljovic
- 2019 - Rob Cross 18-13 Michael Smith
* Click on the underlined finals for reports. Sadly the current Sporting Life website doesn't have archived versions of the finals before that.World Matchplay Most Titles
- Phil Taylor - 16
- Michael van Gerwen - 2
- Rod Harrington - 2
- Rob Cross - 1
- Gary Anderson - 1
- Larry Butler - 1
- Peter Evison - 1
- Colin Lloyd - 1
- James Wade - 1
Related Darts Content
- Chris Hammer's Player-By-Player Guide
- Paul Nicholson's World Matchplay analysis
- World Matchplay betting preview & tips
- 2020 World Matchplay draw and schedule
- Carl Fletcher's vital statistics
- 2020 Premier League venues & dates
- 2020 PDC event calendar & results
- 2020 World Darts Championship results
- 2019 PDC event results
- Sky Bet's darts odds
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