Michael van Gerwen landed a nine-dart finish on his way to a stunning seventh Cazoo Players Championship Finals title on Sunday night as he defeated Rob Cross 11-6 in an incredible final.
The Dutchman claimed a fifth televised title of 2022, and a third ranking triumph on the big stage, with another extraordinary success at Butlin’s Minehead Resort.
Van Gerwen followed up his early-round wins over Ryan Meikle, Cameron Menzies and Dimitri Van den Bergh earlier in the weekend with three stellar displays on Sunday to scoop the £100,000 top prize.
He averaged over 100 in both his 10-7 quarter-final defeat of fellow countryman Danny Noppert and a dominant 11-5 success against Luke Humphries to book his spot in the final.
There, he delighted a packed Butlin’s crowd with a sensational nine-darter, a 170 checkout and a 142 finish on his way to claiming the title for a seventh time in ten years.
Van Gerwen broke down in tears as he dedicated the win to his daughter Zoe, and said: “My daughter was watching every game and said ‘Daddy, are you coming home with a big trophy again?’.
“I said if I win the trophy again it’s going to be yours, so that’s why I wanted to win it.
“I’m here to win tournaments – I love winning, I love performing on the stage and to produce something extra, something special in a final like this, gives me a lot of energy.
“It was a special game of darts – I think we both played well and we had to dig really deep, both of us.
“I managed to hit a nine-darter and 170 finish when it mattered but overall I think Rob Cross played a phenomenal game and the game had everything.
“I know I’m capable of a lot more but you also have to be realistic and to win ths trophy again, for the seventh time, means a lot to me.”
Van Gerwen’s nine-darter came in the third leg of the final, opening with a 177 and then landing a 180 before finishing 144 on double 12 to achieve the feat for the second time in the event.
He also produced legs of 12 and 11 darts to move 6-2 up, with both players having six perfect darts in other legs during a heavy-scoring opening to the decider.
Cross had opened the final with a 13-dart leg and also posted two 14-darters, but found himself 7-3 down as Van Gerwen fired in a 12-darter – which featured another two 180s – to move four legs from the title.
Cross returned from the break with three successive legs to cut the gap to one leg – but crucially the Hastings ace missed two darts at double 16 to level in leg 14.
Van Gerwen ruthlessly stepped in to pounce with a 170 checkout, and took out 70 to restore breathing space at 9-6 before powering in a 142 checkout and double 16 to seal the title in style.
Cross followed up an excellent 10-3 quarter-final defeat of Dirk van Duijvenbode, where he averaged over 104 and missed just six darts at a double, with an 11-7 semi-final win over Jonny Clayton.
The 2018 World Champion was appearing in his first televised final for over a year, but had to settle for the £50,000 runner-up cheque.