Michael van Gerwen beats Peter Wright to claim Premier League title
By Paul Prenderville at The O2
Last Updated: 19/05/17 10:22am
Michael van Gerwen took advantage of six missed match darts from Peter Wright to win a third Premier League title at The O2 Arena.
Van Gerwen hauled himself back from the brink to claim the last two legs, sealing a memorable comeback and an 11-10 victory having also trailed 5-1 and 7-2 earlier on in the final.
The O2 played host to a night of thrilling darts as Van Gerwen beat Gary Anderson 10-7 and Wright beat Phil Taylor 10-9 in epic semi-final contests, but that was only a prelude to the drama that was to follow in an epic final - the closest the Premier League has ever seen.
"It's a fantastic moment for me," said Van Gerwen. "I think that was a great final and I'm really glad I can walk away with this trophy again.
"I missed a few chances and Peter finished well, he did what he had to do but after the break I played really well and I had a great comeback.
"Peter started playing well again and I don't know how he missed six darts for the match. A player of his quality normally hits the double, but for some reason he missed them. This was a really crazy game.
"Peter was really close today but I kept myself relaxed and stepped in at the right moment. It's been great, absolutely fantastic."
Making his Finals Night debut and leading 10-9, Wright contrived to miss six darts for the biggest title of his career and a second major of 2017 having won the UK Open earlier in March, but a ruthless Van Gerwen has made winning his business and the Dutchman claimed yet another major honour as Wright struggled to regain his focus in the decider.
A blistering start from Snakebite saw him move into a 3-0 lead as a combination of sloppy darts from Van Gerwen and clinical finishing from Wright saw the Finals Night debutant seize the initiative.
MVG eventually got on the board in the fourth leg of the match but, with Wright holding his nerve, it was the underdog who maintained his advantage thanks to more tidy finishing.
Snakebite had led 4-0 and 6-3 in his semi-final with Taylor and will have been wary of getting carried away, but after more Van Gerwen misses, Wright hit double seven for a 5-1 lead - the same advantage he had in Liverpool in the regular season.
On that occasion the world no 1 rallied for a 6-6 draw and when Wright missed a 112 checkout, the Dutchman roused himself to grab his second leg of the final.
But Wright snaffled the next couple with little trouble and despite Van Gerwen's double top stopping the rot and reducing the deficit to four at the interval, Wright's 105.51 average had him in pole position with MVG averaging under 100.
However, Van Gerwen returned from the break a different beast, taking out back-to-back legs with clinical combination finishing to move within two, before Wright pinned double eight to re-establish his three-leg advantage.
But with MVG going through the gears and overtaking Wright in the averages, the Dutchman closed again to within two.
With Wright missing a dart for a 9-6 lead, Van Gerwen struck again reeling off a fifth leg in six to haul the match back on throw and trail by one for the first time since the opening leg of the match.
Van Gerwen levelled before piling in an eighth 180 of the match as he turned on the afterburners, only to be matched by Wright's fifth maximum which gave him a chance at an 84 finish - which he took in clinical fashion to lead 9-8.
But just like his semi-final against Taylor, Wright found himself level as Van Gerwen refused to give up his crown without a fight.
MVG's form looked to have deserted him when he needed it most, Wright pinning double 18 to move within one leg of the match and he looked odds on for victory when he left 32 after nine darts with Van Gerwen on 92.
Having missed his first three, Wright saw MVG fail to capitalise only for Snakebite to return to miss another three and, when Van Gerwen pinned double 10 to take the match to a decider, he turned around to see a distraught Wright on his haunches at the back of the oche.
With Wright failing to find a treble on his opening throw he was punished by a ruthless Van Gerwen, who flew out of the traps with a maximum and went on to claim the title with double four sealing the 11-10 victory.
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