Christopher Kempf, the statistical analyst of the PDC, looks at when it all comes down to one leg on the European Tour, Michael van Gerwen reigns supreme.
SINCE February 2015, Michael van Gerwen has entered 29 tournaments on the European Tour and has won 18 of them, giving him an incredible 18-3 record in the finals of those events.
With more than £500,000 in earnings in that period on the European Tour, Van Gerwen has accumulated more income from a single section of the ProTour in little over three years than most professionals have earned in their entire careers.
Yet he is infrequently at his best in the venues of Germany, Austria, Gibraltar and the Netherlands.
The march to victory for the two-time World Champion is scattered with unremarkable 6-2 and 6-3 matches in which the outcome never seemed in doubt.
When an opponent forces him into a corner in Jena or Saarbrücken, however, triggering a final-leg shootout with the title on the line, Van Gerwen unleashes his renowned "turbo".
Since winning his first European Championship, Michael van Gerwen played 12 last-leg deciders on the European Tour and has won them all.
Eight of those 18 titles claimed by the Dutchman in that period came as a result of saving a match at some point en route to the title with great finesse in a decider.
By comparing his stats in normal play to his output in deciding legs, Van Gerwen's astonishing standard of play under pressure comes into clearer focus.
The world number one has averaged about 102, between floor and stage events, in a year 2018 in which his dominance looks as assured as it ever did.
In European Tour deciders, however, he averages 116.
One would expect to see between 3.5 and 4 scores of 171 to 180 for every ten legs MvG plays; for every ten deciders, however, he throws nearly seven.
Van Gerwen had one of the highest doubles percentages of 2017, with 44.5% of his darts finding their targets to win the leg; in those deciders, however, 57% do.
Against the throw, moreover, Van Gerwen's standard of play becomes even more stratospheric.
A 121 average, a 180 in nearly every leg, and a median leg length of 12 make him almost unplayable.
Seven players have thrown first in an 11th leg against Michael van Gerwen over the past three and a half years, from Chris Dobey to Daryl Gurney to Michael Smith; not a single one has managed even to attempt a match dart.
Eleven players have tried and failed since 2014 to match wits with the Dutchman in a deciding leg, but no player came closer to an unlikely victory than Dyson Parody.
The Gibraltarian firebrand was the last player to throw match darts in a final leg to knock out the best player in the world, but a double seven debacle allowed Van Gerwen just enough breathing room to escape from a volatile opponent.
Since that afternoon in May 2016, he has taken £72,500 to the bank just on the back of winning final legs.
Most players tend to hit doubles and trebles in deciding legs at approximately the same rate at which they do in the preceding legs.
This is clearly not the case for Michael van Gerwen, who scored the 21st European Tour title of his career last weekend with an effortless 13-dart leg, holding throw and completing a comeback from 5-1 behind Peter Wright in the final.
It is this proficiency, this brilliance under pressure, which makes his failure in the biggest deciding leg of his career just three months ago to Rob Cross in the World Championship semi-finals, seem all the more baffling and uncharacteristic.
Michael van Gerwen - European Tour Deciding Legs
|Opponent||Event||Throw||3x Treble Visits||Leg Length||Doubles Attempted||Prize Money Earned|
|Terry Jenkins||2015 Dutch Masters SF||With||14||2||£5,000|
|William O'Connor||2015 International Open R2||Against||180||11||1||£500|
|Chris Dobey||2016 German Masters QF||Against||180, 180||11||1||£1,500|
|Dyson Parody||2016 Gibraltar Trophy QF||With||16||4||£1,500|
|Jelle Klaasen||2016 European Matchplay QF||With||180||15||1||£1,500|
|Peter Wright||2016 European Open Final||With||180||11||1||£15,000|
|Kim Huybrechts||2016 European Trophy SF||Against||171||15||3||£5,000|
|Mensur Suljovic||2016 European Trophy Final||Against||180||11||2||£15,000|
|Dave Chisnall||2017 European Grand Prix Final||Against||15||2||£4,000|
|Michael Smith||2017 Austrian Open Final||Against||12||2||£15,000|
|Daryl Gurney||2017 Dutch Masters QF||Against||180||12||1||£2,000|
|Peter Wright||2018 European Open Final||With||13||1||£15,000|
|Average in deciding legs||115.62|
|Doubles % in deciding legs||57%|
|171-180 per leg in deciders||0.67|
|Average against throw in deciding legs||120.93|
|Doubles % against throw in deciding legs||58%|
|171-180 per leg against throw in deciders||0.86|
|Prize money earned from deciding legs||£81,000|