World Darts Championship: Michael van Gerwen beats Peter Wright to win world title
Michael van Gerwen survived a fierce comeback from Peter Wright to win his first World Darts title after a 7-4 success.
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH
Last Updated: 02/01/14 11:13am
It seemed like it was going to be a walk in the park for the 24-year-old Dutchman, as he raced into a 4-0 lead against a stuttering opponent who could barely get a leg on the board.
But the colourful Wright - known as 'Snakebite' - got back into the contest and as he did van Gerwen really started to struggle, the memories of losing last year's final to Phil Taylor coming flooding back.
Wright reduced the deficit down to 6-4, and van Gerwen was clearly struggling to keep his composure as the crowd switched allegiances to the 16th seed.
At 2-2 in the 11th set, Wright had the chance to get within a set, but after missing tops, Van Gerwen took his opportunity to claim his first world title and end Taylor's long reign as World No 1.
It was all so straightforward for Van Gerwen in the early stages of the match as he started like a train while Wright looked tentative and nervy, especially on the doubles.
The Dutchman took the first leg, and then set, against the darts for a perfect start, before sweeping the next two sets without reply - culminating in a 108 finish to put him 3-0 up.
The dominance continued as van Gerwen made it nine straight legs whilst moving into a 4-0 lead, with Wright only able to win two as the prospect of a 7-0 whitewash became a distinct possibility.
Wright is a fighter though, and started his recovery in the fifth set, as he kicked it off by winning just his third leg of the match and finished it off with a stunning 130 outshot to get up and running.
He then took the next with a 100 finish, halving the lead at 4-2, and now van Gerwen was clearly rattled, particularly as he had let it slip away in last year's final against Taylor when he led 4-2.
It was a real contest in the seventh set, with Wright at his crowd-pleasing best, and showing plenty of nerve to get it to 2-2, but he missed a shot at tops and instead of 4-3, Van Gerwen stepped up and made it 5-2 to his huge relief.
That quickly became 6-2, but as he stood on the verge of claiming the world title the nerves took hold. While he suddenly missed doubles Wright again showed his bottle by taking the set to reduce the arrears to 6-3.
Wright was by no means finished there, continuing to revel in the atmosphere. His rival continued to struggle to kill the game off and the Scotsman took the 10th set comfortably to make it 6-4.
Wright again got the early advantage in the 11th set, but Van Gerwen managed to hold his nerve enough to get it to 2-2 and force a decider.
He looked rattled as he missed the board when setting up a finish, but when Wright couldn't land tops, 'Mighty Mike' stepped up to hit the double and claim the trophy he craved - even if he had been pushed every single step of the way.
"It was a very tough match," said van Gerwen. "I got nervous after going 4-0 up but it doesn't matter how you win a final, winning it is the most important.
"It's so difficult to win this title and there was more pressure on me this year than last year. It means so much for me,
"It's unbelievable, a dream come true. I'm so glad I won but all credit to Peter, he did well and put me under pressure."
Wright added: "I never give up - that's my game. The crowd got behind me and made me play - but well done Michael."