Michael van Gerwen won his third PDC World Darts Championship as he defeated Michael Smith 7-3 in the final on New Year’s Day.
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The world number one headed to Alexandra Palace with doubts raised over his dominance despite winning 18 individual titles in 2018, including the Premier League, Masters and the World Grand Prix, but now his incredible career reaches the pinnacle once again.
In a repeat of van Gerwen’s victorious 2018 Premier League final and the first between two players under the age of 30 since 1983, the Dutchman stormed into a 4-0 set lead over a lacklustre Smith and although his opponent finally upped his game to half the deficit, the wobble was short-lived as he won three of the next four to complete a pretty emphatic triumph.
The Dutchman, who thrashed Gary Anderson 6-1 in Sunday’s semi-final and only dropped five sets en route to the final, becomes just the second player after Phil Taylor to be PDC world champion more than twice.
At the age of just 29, MVG has now won 117 titles which also includes four Premier Leagues, four World Grand Prix, three Grand Slam of Darts and two World Matchplays.
Scroll down for match report, player interviews & match stats
In truth it could have been much closer had Smith taken more of his chances early on in his first World Championship final and the 28-year-old simply allowed MVG to get too far ahead.
The St Helens man produced a series of brilliant displays to get this far, particularly in his cracking semi-final with Nathan Aspinall, but not only was he unable to get close enough to a 100+ average needed to trouble the world number one on the scoring front, he was also wasteful on his finishing.
While he was missing 10 of his 13 attempts at doubles across the opening two sets - the first of which going to a decider - van Gerwen was producing big checkouts from 129 and 126 to seize control.
After cruising through the third set, the 29-year-old Dutchman looked like he'd blown the fourth with three missed darts at doubles in a deciding leg but Smith spurned four of his own as he fell 4-0 down.
Smith finally brought the crowd to their feet with a 124 checkout in the deciding leg of the fifth set before taking out 124 and 127 at the start of the next set - both on the bullseye - before a finish from 70 completed a stunning whitewash.
The comeback didn't last much longer as MVG weighed in with a 112 checkout to take the next 3-1 while he punished missed two darts at doubles from Smith in a deciding leg of the eighth to extend his overall lead to 6-2.
Premier League and World Series of Darts Finals runner-up Smith, who has won three titles in 2018, pulled another set back but it was all in vain as van Gerwen raced through the next 3-1 to get his hands on the Sid Waddell Trophy and a winners' cheque of £500,000.
Despite not delivering his best tonight, Bully Boy heads home £200,000 richer following his run to his first world final and can now prepare for his Wedding Day this weekend with his head held high.
Here's what both players had to say after the match.
Michael van Gerwen quotes
"It means the world to me to win this trophy for a third time. Everyone knows I've had some difficult times this year, but to win this one is all that matters at the end of the day. This is the best feeling in the world.
"I was a little bit nervous, my body was pumping with adrenaline and to be honest I didn't play as well as I wanted to, but as long as you win that's all that matters.
"Michael is a phenomenal player, he pushed me all the way and I am sure that one day he will win the World Championship.
"I think I probably should've won more than three World Championship titles by now but it is a great feeling to be able to call myself a three-time World Champion. Now it's time for a well-deserved holiday!"
Michael Smith quotes
"I'm gutted about how the game turned out, I just didn't get going. I'm annoyed with myself for how I played, and if I took my chances then maybe it would've been a different game.
"I tried way too hard but it's my first World Championship final and I guarantee it won't be my last.
"I guarantee that one day I will lift this trophy."
Michael van Gerwen 7-3 Michael Smith: Match stats
- MVG: 102.1
- Smith: 95.29
- MVG: 14
- Smith: 13
- MVG: 25/55 (46.3%)
- Smith: 19/47 (40.43%)
- MVG: 129 (3x 100+)
- Smith: 127 (3x 100+)
OVERALL TOURNAMENT STATS (MVG first)
- 3-dart Average: 103.28 - 99.62
- 180s: 46 - 64
- 100+ checkouts: 10 - 14
- Highest checkout: 170 - 136
- Checkout %: 46.26% (99/214) - 43.89% (97/221)
- Sets won/lost: 29/8 - 25/15
- Legs won/lost: 99/56 - 97/70
ROUTES TO THE FINAL
Michael van Gerwen
- Second round: 3-1 v Alan Tabern
(Av: 102.59, 180s: 4, Doubles: 11/20)
- Third round: 4-1 v Max Hopp
(Av: 101.51, 180s: 6, Doubles: 12/34)
- Fourth round: 4-1 v Adrian Lewis
(Av: 108.08, 180s: 6, Doubles: 14/32)
- Quarter-finals: 5-1 v Ryan Joyce
(Av: 101.12, 180s: 5, Doubles: 17/34)
- Semi-finals: 5-1 v Gary Anderson
(Av: 104.76, 180s: 11, Doubles: 20/40)
- Second round: 3-1 v Ron Meulenkamp
(Av: 94.07, 180s: 7, Doubles: 10/20)
- Third round: 4-2 v John Henderson
(Av: 100.47, 180s: 9, Doubles: 16/34)
- Fourth round: 4-1 v Ryan Searle
(Av: 99.72, 180s: 10, Doubles: 14/29)
- Quarter-finals: 5-1 v Luke Humphries
(Av: 103, 180s: 8, Doubles: 15/46)
- Semi-finals: 6-3 v Nathan Aspinall
Av: 105.22, 180s: 17, Doubles: 23/45)
World Darts Championship tournament results
- (1) Michael van Gerwen 7-3 Michael Smith (10)
- (1) Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Gary Anderson (4)
- (10) Michael Smith 6-3 Nathan Aspinall
- (1) Michael van Gerwen 5-1 Ryan Joyce
- (12) Dave Chisnall 2-5 Gary Anderson (4)
- Luke Humphries 1-5 Michael Smith (10)
- Nathan Aspinall 5-1 Brendan Dolan
- (1) Michael van Gerwen 4-1 Adrian Lewis (16)
- Ryan Joyce 4-3 James Wade (9)
- (28) Jamie Lewis 0-4 Dave Chisnall (12)
- (4) Gary Anderson 4-3 Chris Dobey
- (2) Rob Cross 2-4 Luke Humphries
- Ryan Searle 1-4 Michael Smith (10)
- Nathan Aspinall 4-3 Devon Peterson
- (30) Benito van de Pas 1-4 Brendan Dolan
- (1) Michael van Gerwen 4-1 Max Hopp (32)
- (16) Adrian Lewis 4-0 Darius Labanauskas
- Ryan Joyce 4-3 Alan Norris (25)
- (9) James Wade 4-3 Keegan Brown
- (5) Daryl Gurney 3-4 Jamie Lewis (28)
- (12) Dave Chisnall 4-0 Kim Huybrechts (21)
- (4) Gary Anderson 4-3 Jermaine Wattimena (29)
- Vincent van der Voort 3-4 Chris Dobey
- (2) Rob Cross 4-0 Cristo Reyes (31)
- Dimitri van den Bergh 1-4 Luke Humphries
- Ryan Searle 4-1 William O'Connor
- (10) Michael Smith 4-2 John Henderson (23)
- Nathan Aspinall 4-1 Kyle Anderson (27)
- Devon Peterson 4-2 Steve West (22)
- Toni Alcinas 2-4 Benito van de Pas (30)
- Brendan Dolan 4-2 Mervyn King (19)
The 32 seeded players qualified from the PDC Order of Merit and entered the event at the second-round stage. They played a winner from the 32 first-round matches featuring the 32 international qualifiers and the 32 ProTour Order of Merit qualifiers.
- (1) Michael van Gerwen 3-1 Alan Tabern
- (32) Max Hopp 3-0 Danny Noppert
- (16) Adrian Lewis 3-0 Ted Evetts
- (17) Raymond van Barneveld 2-3 Darius Labanauskas
- (8) Simon Whitlock 0-3 Ryan Joyce
- (25) Alan Norris 3-2 Steve Lennon
- (9) James Wade 3-2 Seigo Asada
- (24) Jelle Klaasen 1-3 Keegan Brown
- (5) Daryl Gurney 3-0 Ross Smith
- (28) Jamie Lewis 3-2 Cody Harris
- (12) Dave Chisnall 3-2 Josh Payne
- (21) Kim Huybrechts 3-0 Daniel Larsson
- (4) Gary Anderson 3-1 Kevin Burness
- (29) Jermaine Wattimena 3-0 Michael Barnard
- (13) Darren Webster 0-3 Vincent van der Voort
- (20) Steve Beaton 0-3 Chris Dobey
- (2) Rob Cross 3-1 Jeffrey de Zwaan
- (31) Cristo Reyes 3-2 Rowby-John Rodriguez
- (15) Jonny Clayton 1-3 Dimitri van den Bergh
- (18) Stephen Bunting 1-3 Luke Humphries
- (7) Mensur Suljovic 1-3 Ryan Searle
- (26) James Wilson 2-3 William O'Connor
- (10) Michael Smith 3-1 Ron Meulenkamp
- (23) John Henderson 3-2 Gabriel Clemens
- (6) Gerwyn Price 2-3 Nathan Aspinall
- (27) Kyle Anderson 3-1 Noel Malicdem
- (11) Ian White 2-3 Devon Peterson
- (22) Steve West 3-1 Richard North
- (3) Peter Wright 1-3 Toni Alcinas
- (30) Benito van de Pas 3-2 Jim Long
- (14) Joe Cullen 0-3 Brendan Dolan
- (19) Mervyn King 3-2 Jan Dekker
- Alan Tabern 3-2 Raymond Smith
- Royden Lam 0-3 Danny Noppert
- Simon Stevenson 0-3 Ted Evetts
- Matthew Edgar 1-3 Darius Labanauskas
- Ryan Joyce 3-0 Anastasia Dobromyslova
- Steve Lennon 3-0 James Bailey
- Krzystof Ratajski 2-3 Seigo Asada
- Keegan Brown 3-0 Karel Sedlacek
- Ross Smith 3-1 Paul Lim
- Martin Schindler 2-3 Cody Harris
- Josh Payne 3-2 Jeff Smith
- Robert Thornton 1-3 Daniel Larsson
- Paul Nicholson 0-3 Kevin Burness
- Michael Barnard 3-2 Jose De Sousa
- Vincent van der Voort 3-1 Lourence Ilagen
- Chris Dobey 3-0 Boris Koltsov
- Jeffrey de Zwaan 3-0 Nitin Kumar
- Ricky Evans 1-3 Rowby-John Rodriguez
- Dimitri van den Bergh 3-0 Chuck Puleo
- Luke Humphries 3-0 Adam Hunt
- Ryan Searle 3-0 Stephen Burton
- William O'Connor 3-0 Yordi Meeuwisse
- Ron Meulenkamp 3-2 Diogo Portela
- Gabriel Clemens 3-0 Aden Kirk
- Nathan Aspinall 3-0 Geert Nentjes
- Jeffrey de Graaf 2-3 Noel Malicdem
- Wayne Jones 2-3 Devon Peterson
- Richard North 3-0 Robert Marijanovic
- Toni Alcinas 3-0 Craig Ross
- Micky Mansell 2-3 Jim Long
- Brendan Dolan 3-0 Yuanjun Liu
- Jan Dekker 3-1 Lisa Ashton