MIGHTY MIKE IS THE UNIBET MASTER!
World number one van Gerwen made a sensational start to the year by scooping the £60,000 first prize in the third staging of The Masters, succeeding James Wade as champion.
Following a first round defeat of Wes Newton on Saturday night, van Gerwen defied 13 180s from Dave Chisnall by averaging 110 in a brilliant quarter-final win on Sunday afternoon.
The 25-year-old then overcame Adrian Lewis 11-6 in their semi-final - missing double 12 for a nine-dart finish - before producing his best performance of the weekend in the decider against his compatriot.
Van Barneveld had held a lender 3-2 lead before a 157 finish from van Gerwen levelled in leg six and sparked his challenge to life.
Although Premier League champion van Barneveld edged 4-3 up on double ten, van Gerwen took the next five legs in an unstoppable burst, finishing 161 and hitting two 180s and a 177 as he moved 8-4 up.
Van Barneveld defied further maximums from his rival to hit back by winning two of the next three legs - as van Gerwen set up a possible nine-darter in the other with back-to-back 180s and a 110 finish.
The 16th leg then saw van Gerwen miss double 12 for a nine-darter for the second time on the night, with the two 180s also seeing him break the tournament record for maximums in a match which Chisnall had set earlier in the day.
Despite missing out on a perfect leg, van Gerwen completed a master-class of darts with double 18 in the next to seal his eighth major televised PDC title, ending with a brilliant 112.49 average.
"I^m really proud of this trophy and really happy with myself for winning this tournament," said van Gerwen.
"My averages have been brilliant and I did well today, and when I needed to I managed to lift my game - the only thing missing was a nine-darter!
"This has been an amazing tournament - it^s the first time we^ve played in Milton Keynes and the fans were great. This tournament is growing and I^m delighted to have won it for the first time."
Van Gerwen had enjoyed a fortnight^s break in the Maldives since the World Championship, but is hoping to take his weekend^s form into the Betway Premier League, which kicks off in Leeds on Thursday.
"I had a great holiday in the Maldives but to kick off the year by winning the Unibet Masters is great - it couldn^t be a better start for me," he added.
"I hope I can carry this on now into the Premier League, but first I want to enjoy this title."
Van Barneveld had secured his spot in the final with a fine 11-6 win over new World Champion Gary Anderson in the semi-finals, hitting a brace of 120 finishes and leading throughout as he progressed.
However, van Gerwen would avenge his loss to van Barneveld in the 2014 Premier League final as he denied his compatriot another major title, although the five-time World Champion takes home £25,000 as runner-up.
Anderson and Lewis were left to settle with £17,500 prize money as the losing semi-finalists, having also produced some brilliant darts ahead of the Premier League opener next Thursday.
2015 Unibet Masters
Sunday February 1
Michael van Gerwen 11-6 Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld 11-6 Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen 11-6 Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v Adrian Lewis
1-0 - Double four gives van Gerwen the opening leg.
1-1 - Lewis opens with a 177, and though the Dutchman replies with a 180 the Stoke star finishes 127 on the bull to level.
2-1 - van Gerwen lands double four once more as he edges in front.
2-2 - Double 18 sees Lewis square the contest.
3-2 - van Gerwen fires in a 180, his second of the game, before finishing double 12 for a 14-darter.
3-3 - Lewis posts his first maximum of the contest before taking out double nine to level.
4-3 - van Gerwen hits double 18 with his third dart at the bed as he holds throw once again.
4-4 - Lewis opens with five perfect darts, scoring 180 and 140, with van Gerwen posting a maximum in reply only to see his rival finish 116 on tops to tie the game again.
5-4 - Lewis posts another maximum, but van Gerwen posts double top to move back in front.
5-5 - VAN GERWEN MISSES DOUBLE 12 FOR A NINE-DARTER! The Dutchman opens with 177 and 180, and lands two more treble 20s before missing double 12 for a 144 finish - and he then sees Lewis take the leg with an 11-darter as he follows up a 180 of his own by finishing 87 on double 18.
6-5 - van Gerwen lands another maximum as he moves back ahead.
7-5 - The Dutchman breaks throw for the first time in the game by finishing double eight.
8-5 - van Gerwen moves three legs clear, hitting a 170 score during the leg before finishing double 16 - despite Lewis hitting back with a 180.
8-6 - van Gerwen misses two darts at doubles to win a fourth successive leg, allowing Lewis back in to finish double eight.
9-6 - van Gerwen fires in a sixth maximum before finishing 66 on double 18 to move two legs away from the final.
10-6 - The pair trade 180s before van Gerwen finishes 66 on double 18 once more to move to the brink of victory.
11-6 - van Gerwen seals victory with an uncharacteristic double one finish.
Raymond van Barneveld v Gary Anderson
1-0 - van Barneveld finishes 120 to claim the opening leg with a break of throw.
2-0 - Anderson misses a dart at tops to level, allowing the Dutchman to move two legs up on double four.
3-0 - van Barneveld wins his third successive leg, taking out double eight.
3-1 - Anderson cleans up 280 in five darts by landing a 180 and finishing 100 on tops to fire his challenge.
3-2 - The Scot finishes 138 on double nine to reduce the gap to one leg.
4-2 - van Barneveld lands his first 180 before posting double 16 to restore a two-leg lead.
4-3 - The Dutchman fires in another maximum, but Anderson takes out 94 on tops to hit back.
5-3 - Tops sees van Barneveld restore his cushion.
6-3 - Anderson lands a 177, with van Barneveld landing a 180 before capitalising on eight missed doubles from the Scot by landing double ten to break throw.
7-3 - Double ten sees van Barneveld win a third successive leg as he pulls clear.
8-3 - van Barneveld posts a 180 before breaking throw on double top to move five legs ahead of the World Champion, who had missed double top to hit back.
8-4 - Anderson wins his first leg in five, taking out 72 on tops.
9-4 - The Dutch ace finishes 120 for the second time in the game.
9-5 - Anderson hits tops to hit back.
10-5 - van Barneveld opens with a 180, and when Anderson misses double eight for a 136 finish the Premier League champion hits the same bed to move a leg away from the final.
10-6 - van Barneveld misses one match dart, at double six, to allow Anderson in to finish 106 on double 16 to keep alive his hopes.
11-6 - The pair trade 180s before van Barneveld seals victory on double eight.
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
1-0 - van Barneveld misses double ten for a 140 finish, and van Gerwen htis the same bed to lead.
1-1 - van Gerwen posts a 180, only to see his rival finish 106 on double 18 to level.
1-2 - van Barneveld opens with a 177 before finishing double four to move ahead.
2-2 - van Gerwen sets up a possible nine-darter with two 180s, and though he misses out on a seventh perfect dart the world number one takes the leg.
2-3 - The duo trade 180s before van Barneveld finishes double eight with his third dart at the bed as he moves back ahead.
3-3 - van Gerwen finishes 157 to tie the contest.
3-4 - Both players again land 180s in the leg, before van Barneveld finishes double ten to hold throw.
4-4 - van Gerwen powers in another 180 before finishing tops to level.
5-4 - The world number one breaks throw with a sensational 161 checkout.
6-4 - van Gerwen lands his seventh 180 of the game, and finishes a 13-darter to move two legs clear for the first time.
7-4 - van Gerwen opens with a 177 before finishing 71 to move three legs clear with his fourth successive leg.
8-4 - van Gerwen finishes a 13-darter on double 16 to continue his charge.
8-5 - van Gerwen fires in another 180 but misses two darts at double 16 to allow his fellow countryman in to hit the same bed and win his first leg in six.
9-5 - van Gerwen sets up a possible nine-darter with two 180s, and though he is unable to finish 141 - scoring 31 - he returns to take out 110 to move two legs away from the title.
9-6 - The world number one opens with 140 and a 12th 180 of the game, but pays for missed doubles as van Barneveld finishes double five to hit back.
10-6 - VAN GERWEN MISSES DOUBLE 12 FOR A NINE-DARTER! For the second time in the night, van Gerwen misses double 12 to achieve a perfect leg, with the two 180s also seeing him create a new tournament record for 180s in a match as he takes his total to 14 - before double six wins him the leg.
11-6 - van Gerwen pins double 18 to seal victory with a 112.49 average.