BRILLIANT VAN GERWEN CLAIMS LADBROKES WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN has won the 2014 Ladbrokes World Darts Championship title, producing a thrilling performance to achieve his darting destiny with a 7-4 defeat of plucky Peter Wright at Alexandra Palace.
Almost a decade after he first emerged as a teenage prodigy in Holland, the 24-year-old has won darts^ biggest title as he claimed a £250,000 first prize and lifted the Sid Waddell Trophy as the new Ladbrokes World Darts Champion.
The triumph also lifts van Gerwen above previous World Champion Phil Taylor to the top of the PDC Order of Merit for the first time, and sees him become the sixth - and youngest - winner of the PDC World Championship.
Van Gerwen raced into a four-set lead by winning 12 of the game^s opening 14 legs in a stunning start to the game, before Wright hit back to win the next two sets and halve the deficit.
However, Wright missed one dart at double top to win the seventh set, and van Gerwen recovered on double eight to move 5-2 up and then took the next set 3-1 to move just one set from the title.
Wright took the ninth and tenth sets 3-1 to continue his revival by pulling back to 6-4, but van Gerwen hit back from a leg down in the 11th set with a nerve-settling 124 finish before taking the deciding leg on double top to complete his triumph.
Van Gerwen hit 16 maximums during the game and ended the final with a 100.10 average - but most importantly hoisted the Sid Waddell Trophy above his head to celebrate being crowned as Ladbrokes World Champion.
"Tonight I have achieved my dream and it just feels unbelievable right now," said van Gerwen. "It^s the biggest night of my life and I^m delighted.
"I made a great start and got ahead straight away, but when I was 4-0 up I realised I was close to winning and I started to get nervous.
"You could see that in my game when Peter came back at me. He came back well but I made a few mistakes and let him in.
"It^s not always how you start but how you finish, and when I hit double top to win the match, it was a huge relief and a big weight off my shoulders. It was my shot of the tournament, a great finish and I^m very glad I hit it.
"It^s the biggest moment of my life - this is a dream come true to be World Champion and also number one in the world. I hope I can win loads more tournaments and I^ll be aiming for that now."
Wright, whose £100,000 runner-up prize is the biggest pay-day of his career to date, said: "I never gave up at 4-0 down and if I was going to come out second best then I wanted to make him earn it.
"If I^d managed to hit one of those two attempts at double top to make it 6-5, then I would have really fancied my chances.
"I had shots at doubles early on that I should have pinned and I^m gutted because my doubles have been the most important thing for the past couple of weeks, so to not put Michael under pressure earlier cost me.
"I did have some nerves early on but the atmosphere wasn^t what I expected. It was amazing, you can^t buy that feeling and next year I^ll know what to expect.
"The crowd have been wonderful to me throughout this tournament and I have so many great memories. Hopefully I^ll be the lifting the Sid Waddell Trophy in 12 months time."
Wright will also now compete in the 2014 Premier League Darts after rising to seventh in the PDC Order of Merit, and said: "It^s a great honour and it^s going to be a totally different experience again.
"It it^s anything like tonight^s crowd, then having 10,000 people screaming my name will be amazing. I can focus on the Premier League and get ready for that and the next tournaments on the circuit.
"I^ve proved a point in the last year by going from 26th the world to number seven, so anyone can do it. I^m up to seventh now and there^s another six people above me, so I^ll be pushing after their places and they should watch out!"
Van Gerwen made a fine start to the final as won the opening two legs, breaking throw in the first with a 91 finish, on double nine.
Wright won the third with a two-dart 77 finish, which included a 180 from the Scot as he registered a 14-darter, before van Gerwen won the next on double ten to draw first blood.
The world number two took that good form into set two as he won the first leg in 12 darts, before claiming the two by punishing misses from Wright as he won the set without reply.
Van Gerwen stormed through the third set by hitting two consecutive 13-darters and a 108 finish in the third leg to win the set without reply, and added to Wright^s pain by taking the first two legs of set four.
Wright managed to stop the rot in third by converting a 63 finish on double 16 to win his first leg in ten, but he was unable to prevent van Gerwen from establishing a four-seat lead as the Dutchman wrapped up the set with a 71 finish.
The opening two legs of the fifth were shared before Wright regained the lead by taking the third in 13 darts, before a brilliant 130 checkout from the Scot secured the set in style.
Wright, bouyed by winning the fifth set, then took the first two legs of the sixth on double 16, and though van Gerwen hit back by finishing 80 in the next, the number 16 seed took out 100 to reduce the gap to 4-2.
Wright led the seventh set 2-1 before van Gerwen took out a 64 finish to level, and the Dutchman edged a vital deciding leg on double eight after his opponent missed one dart at tops to win a third successive set.
Van Gerwen started the eighth set well with a 14-darter, before Wright replied to win the second leg with an 81 finish on double six.
The Dutchman won the third leg with a two-dart 96 finish, and then secured the set on double two, to move 6-2 up, after Wright missed four chances to force a decider.
The players shared the first two legs of the ninth set, before Wright edged ahead on double 18 in the third, after van Gerwen was guilty of wasting three darts at double top.
Wright then won the set on double six before making a great start to set ten as he hit finishes of 104 and 76 to win the first two legs.
Van Gerwen took the third on double 14, before Wright hit double 13 at the first time of asking to win the set and keep his hopes alive at 6-4.
The Dutchman dropped the opening leg of the eleventh, having missed three chances to break, before hitting back with an excellent 124 checkout to take the second.
Van Gerwen raised hopes of a nine-darter in the next as he started with consecutive 180s, and though his attempt at a seventh treble 20 fell low, he won the leg in 11 darts to move one leg away from victory.
The set^s deciding leg saw Wright miss two darts at double top for a 58 finish to pull back to 6-5, and that proved to be his final chance as van Gerwen took out a 72 finish on double top to achieve his darting dream.
The final also saw van Gerwen hit 16 180s and Wright land six maximums, as the World Championship record of 588 - set in 2012 - was smashed with a total of 603, earning a donation of £12,000 from Ladbrokes to Haven House Children^s Hospice, the PDC^s Official Charity.
0-1 - van Gerwen starts brilliantly to win the first leg against the darts, thanks to a 91 finish.
0-2 - The Dutchman hits double eight to increase his lead, with Wright waiting on tops.
1-2 - Wright hits the first 180 of the final, before converting a two-dart 77 finish for a 14-darter.
1-3 - van Gerwen misses two chances to win the opening set, but Wright is unable to set up a double for a 107 finish, allowing his opponent to return and hit double ten.
0-1 - van Gerwen hits a trio of 140 scores to leave 81 after nine darts, and he posts double 12 to complete a 12-darter.
0-2 - The number two seed hits double top to break, capitalising on two missed darts at doubles from Wright.
0-3 - van Gerwen is off-target with one dart at double top, only for Wright to commit the same error and allow the Dutch star to return and hit double ten for a two-set lead.
0-1 - van Gerwen hits a brilliant 177 to leave double 16, which he hits at the first attempt for an excellent 13-darter.
0-2 - The Dutchman kicks off the leg of scores of 180 and 140, before hitting double ten to complete another 13-dart finish.
0-3 - van Gerwen wins a seventh straight leg - and a third set without reply - thanks to a clinical 108 finish.
0-1 - Wright misses double top for a 116 finish, and van Gerwen takes out the same double with an accuarte third dart.
0-2 - The world number 16 hits a 177 to start the leg, only to miss three chances to win the leg, and van Gerwen again makes his opponent pay for those errors by hitting double ten.
1-2 - van Gerwen fails with three attempts to win the set, and Wright picks up just his second leg of the game by hitting double 16 for a 63 finish.
1-3 - van Gerwen recovers impressively from the previous leg, hitting a second 180 before landing top to move further ahead.
1-0 - Wright makes a positive start to the fifth set, holding throw on double four.
1-1 - van Gerwen hits double top for a 56 finish to draw level.
2-1 - Wright hits a second 180 before going on to hit double top for a 13-darter.
3-1 - van Gerwen kicks off the leg with two 140s, before Wright hits a 180 followed by brilliant 130 checkout, on double five, to win the set in style.
1-0 - van Gerwen posts a third 180 but wastes three chances to win the leg, and Wright hits double 16 to break throw.
2-0 - Wright defies a 180 from his opponent by hitting double 16 for a second successive leg to complete a 71 finish.
2-1 - Wright is made to pay for a missed dart at tops, as van Gerwen converts an 80 finish.
3-1 - Double 19 gives Wright the set as he takes a 100 finish.
1-0 - van Gerwen hits the 589th maximum of the championship - a record for the tournament - but two missed darts at doubles allow Wright to steal the leg on double eight.
1-1 - The Dutchman holds throw to stop Wright^s winning run of legs.
2-1 - van Gerwen kicks off the leg with a seventh 180, but Wright produces the more consistent scoring and hits double eight to regain the lead.
2-2 - Both players land maximums, before van Gerwen converts a 64 finish on double eight.
2-3 - A vital leg sees Wright miss one dart at double top for an 80 finish, and van Gerwen keeps his composure to find the double eight bed with his third dart to move three sets clear.
0-1 - van Gerwen hits double ten for a 14-dart finish.
1-1 - Both finalists hit 180s before Wright takes out an 81 finish on double six, with van Gerwen waiting on a two-darter.
1-2 - The Dutchman converts a two-dart 96 finish.
1-3 - van Gerwen hits a 180 to leave 36, but misses two chances to win the leg. Wright, though, misses four darts of his own to force a deciding leg, and the Dutchman hits double two to go four sets up for a second time.
1-0 - Wright fails with six chances to win the leg, only for van Gerwen to give his opponent a lifeline by missing three darts at tops to break, and the Mendham ace accepts the reprieve by landing double two with an accurate third dart.
1-1 - van Gerwen wins the second leg with a 14-darter, which features a 180 from the Dutchman.
2-1 - The Dutchman dominates the leg with a 13th maximum, but three missed darts at double top see Wright sneak in on double 18.
3-1 - Wright hits a sixth 180 - the 600th of the tournament - and lands double six with a brilliant third dart to reduce the gap to 6-3.
1-0 - Wright breaks throw with an excellent 104 finish on double top.
2-0 - The world number 16 lands double top for a second leg running for a 76 finish.
2-1 - van Gerwen holds throw thanks to an accurate attempt at double 14.
3-1 - Wright hits double 13 at the first time of asking to remain in the hunt by reducing the gap to two sets once again.
1-0 - van Gerwen misses three darts at doubles to break throw, and Wright hits double 16 at the first attempt.
1-1 - The Dutchman hits a 124 checkout on double eight to draw level.
2-1 - Wright narrowly misses two darts at double 18, but van Gerwen is unable to set up a double for a 100 finish, and the Scot hits double nine to edge back in front.
2-2 - van Gerwen hits back-to-back 180s to raise hopes of a nine-darter, and although he is unable to complete the perfect leg, he takes the leg in 11 darts to move one leg away from the title.
2-3 - Two missed darts at double top spell the end for Wright, as van Gerwen takes out 72 on the same double to realise his darting dream.
Ladbrokes World Darts Championship
Peter Wright 4-7 Michael van Gerwen
Best of 13 Sets
Van Gerwen-Wright: 3-1, 3-0, 3-0, 3-1, 1-3, 1-3, 3-2, 3-1, 1-3, 1-3, 3-2