Michael van Gerwen claimed his first BetVictor World Matchplay title with a brilliant 18-12 win over James Wade in last night’s final at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
The Dutch star, 26, erased the memories of last year’s tears in defeat to Phil Taylor with a magical display to defeat Wade, who was seeking his second Blackpool title.
Wade had ended Phil Taylor’s seven-year reign as World Matchplay champion in Saturday’s semi-finals but was unable to repeat the performance against the world number one as van Gerwen scooped the £100,000 first prize.
After sharing the first ten legs, a five-leg burst from van Gerwen – including checkouts of 127 and 144 – saw him pull clear to lead 10-6 and take a lead as he charged to glory.
An edgy opening saw van Gerwen break throw immediately before Wade levelled with a 68 finish and then took out double six to lead 2-1.
Van Gerwen fired in a 180, the first of four in as many legs, as he took the fourth, but Wade punished missed doubles from the Dutchman to take a 4-2 cushion.
The tables were turned as Wade missed tops in the seventh leg to allow van Gerwen back in on double 16 before tops from the Dutchman levelled, and the next two were shared before a 107 finish put the 2007 champion 6-5 up.
Van Gerwen’s response, though, was clinical as he took out 127 for a 12-darter to level, double eight and double 16 to move 8-6 up, a fabulous 144 finish and 80 on double 10 to win five straight legs in the blink of an eye.
Wade took two of the next three, despite a 13-darter from van Gerwen, before a missed bullseye from the left-hander for a 167 finish allowed the Dutchman to land double 18 for a 12-8 advantage.
Although Wade took the next to punish missed doubles from van Gerwen, the top seed finished 72 to restore his lead and double 16 in successive legs to move 15-9 up.
Wade claimed two of the next three, but an eighth 180 of the game helped van Gerwen move 17-11 up, and despite double 10 keeping Wade’s hopes alive, another maximum helped him set up tops for a 14-darter to seal glory.
Van Gerwen said: “This feels amazing. This tournament has been on my schedule for a long time. It means so much because after the world championships this is the most important and I’m really glad to win it.”
For Wade, the final was an anticlimax after his toppling of Taylor.
He admitted: “It was almost as if someone had cut my arm off and I missed some simple shots.
“I expected Michael to come out all guns blazing but he didn’t, but he did the job when he needed to. “
Wade had stunned Taylor 17-14 on Saturday night, when van Gerwen overcame Peter Wright 17-12 in the other semi.
Wade, the last man before Taylor to win the title back in 2007, held his nerve to claim a memorable triumph as he put himself into the final in Blackpool for a sixth time.
He had levelled twice after trailing 3-1 and 7-5 before moving into a lead he would never relinquish at 13-10 and 16-12.
Wade then held off Taylor’s late rally to end his 38-game winning record on the Winter Gardens stage.
Van Gerwen booked his place in the final for a second successive year, though Wright shared the opening six legs in a high-quality start.
But the Scot was blown away by a five-leg burst as van Gerwen pulled into a lead he would never lose.