Robert Thornton defeated Michael van Gerwen in the World Grand Prix final
Last Updated: 16/10/15 11:10am
Robert Thornton stunningly upset Michael van Gerwen to win the World Grand Prix final in the deciding set and claim his second PDC major title.
A brilliant final went the distance on Saturday night as a disbelieving crowd roared on Thornton to complete a stunning conclusion to the week's events in Dublin with the world No 1 the final big name to fall to a shock defeat.
The World Grand Prix had been defined by the surprise early exits of Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson and co but Thornton's humbling of Van Gerwen in a titanic final trumped them all.
World Grand Prix - as it happened
Relive a thrilling final in Dublin as Robert Thornton claimed the title
The Dutchman hit 18 maximums throughout the nine sets but was ultimately undone by Thornton's superior composure as the battle wore on.
Van Gerwen electrified the Irish crowd that was already at boiling point by slamming home three 180s in the first leg-and-a-half, checking out from 32 twice in the opening pair of frames.
His immediate comfort at the oche on the grandest stage was prevalent in the early stages as he roared into a lead before Thornton had a chance to steady his grip. The Scot grimaced at his early efforts while Van Gerwen looked like he hadn't had a break after racing through his semi-final 24 hours earlier.
Thornton didn't even get a shot at a finishing double as the first set flashed past in a blaze of lime green.
As the maximums flowed for Van Gerwen, Thornton gritted his teeth and took a thrilling second set - edging two legs ahead, withstanding a fightback, and defeating his own nerves for the crucial checkout.
Finally feeling a sense of belonging alongside the world No 1, Thornton took the third set as well after throwing the better arrows and matching everything Van Gerwen could muster.
The Dutchman, wholly unimpressed, raced through the next set in double-quick time with a 110 checkout for good measure.
But his composure deserted him at 2-2 in the fifth set with the odds stacked in his favour. Van Gerwen missed double 16, then six darts to take out just eight. Thornton sneaked the set from his opponent's clutches, only for Van Gerwen to rapidly reel off the next three legs.
Approaching the business end of the final, the seventh set was a rollercoaster of the crowd's emotions as Van Gerwen wasted an early break of throw. Thornton caught him cold when the Dutchman screwed up a checkout from eight, then took the crucial leg with a 74 checkout moments after the world No 1 missed with 80 left.
Van Gerwen forced a decider but the brilliant Dutchman, by this stage, appeared to be chasing the contest with the Irish crowd now vociferously backing the underdog.
In the final two legs of the decider, Van Gerwen faltered with his doubles and Thornton's biggest moment at the oche was realised.
The world No 7 from Scotland had lost his previous seven encounters with Van Gerwen but finally arrested that slide in advance of the Grand Slam of Darts.