Michael van Gerwen beats Michael Smith 11-4 to win Premier League Darts title
World No 1 falls just short of record-breaking average to win a major televised final, averaging 112.37 to sink Bully Boy
By Paul Prenderville at The O2
Last Updated: 18/05/18 10:42am
Michael van Gerwen maintained his vice-like grip on the Premier League Darts trophy, securing a third successive title by beating Michael Smith in a dominant display in the final.
Van Gerwen's triumph is his fourth from his six years in the competition and, after missing out at the World Championship, continues to underline his status as the dominant force in darts - it's also his 12th tournament victory of the year.
MvG had earlier swept past his Ally Pally conquerer Rob Cross in the semi-final, while Smith had stunned two-time Premier League champion Gary Anderson to reach his first major televised final, but it was the world No 1 who prevailed.
An average of 112.49 had previously been the record to win a major title, when Van Gerwen beat Barney to win the 2015 Masters, and at one stage roared on by Premier League winner and fellow Dutchman Robin van Persie, MvG threatened his world-record 123.4 average.
That was not to be, but it was still another superb performance from Van Gerwen, who picked up the £250,000 cheque to go with the £25,000 bonus for winning the league and the highest average of the 2018 Premier League season.
For Smith, who has been battling pleurisy for the last few weeks, the £120,000 represents the biggest payday of his career and caps a memorable return to the Premier League just a couple of years after he was eliminated at the first phase with just a single victory.
Smith stuns Anderson after MvG beats Cross
Report from the semi-finals at the O2 as the Premier League reached it's concusion
2018 Premier League Darts - Play Offs
|Michael van Gerwen||10-6||Rob Cross|
|Michael Smith||10-6||Gary Anderson|
|Michael van Gerwen||11-4||Michael Smith|
Smith had finished second to Van Gerwen in the regular season and the pair had come through relatively straightforward semi-finals.
Smith's win over Anderson was the signal for a 20-minute break, before returning for the final in front of a 10,000 crowd.
Like the semi-final, Van Gerwen went off with a maximum as he took the opener and then broke Smith with a 12-dart leg - setting the tone for the fireworks to follow.
He underlined his early dominance by going one better with an 11-dart leg to forge a 3-0 lead in a matter of minutes.
Bully Boy, world youth champion at The O2 five years ago, stopped the rot in the fourth but it merely delayed the inevitable as Van Gerwen continued on his merry way.
Pushing his average closer to his world record of 123.4, Van Gerwen took out a second 11-dart leg of the final and Smith was barely given a look at a double despite averaging around the 100-mark.
With Van Gerwen 8-1 in front, Smith needed - and found - a big finish. A 125 finish drew huge cheers from the crowd and provided some respite to the relentless barrage coming his way.
The pair traded another couple of legs, Smith needing a 104 to stay alive and then pinning double five to avoid the ignominy of matching Phil Taylor's 11-3 defeat to Van Gerwen a couple of years ago.
Van Gerwen moved to within a leg of the match and, while his average dipped to a mere 112.37, it was perhaps fitting that 112 gave the Dutchman yet another title on the stage he has dominated most of all.
Smith was left to reflect on a memorable four months on the Premier League roadshow, where he was beaten by the very best producing his very best.
"The way that he played, Phil Taylor in his best days would not have kept up with that - that first session was stupid and even if I had four darts I wouldn't have kept up with him," he said.
"That is why he is No 1, that is why he wins major tournaments. But I have proved myself right - I was convincing myself that I shouldn't be here, not reaching a major final or playing in the Premier League.
"I have reached the Premier League final and proved people wrong and the next step for me now is to go and win major titles."
Titles are Van Gerwen's currency and he adds another major honour to his ever-growing list after a spectacular display.
Darts is back on your Sky Sports screens at the end of this month with the World Cup of Darts, live from Frankfurt - four days of live coverage get underway from 6pm on Sky Sports Action on Thursday May 31
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