Christopher Kempf, the statistical analyst of the PDC, takes a look at how Michael van Gerwen's accuracy on treble 19 helped him become a three-time World Champion.

Van Gerwen scored 180 on 46 occasions during the 2018/19 William Hill World Championship, the fewest for a World Champion since 2013.

That works out to a rate of 0.297 per leg, which means that MvG actually under-performed compared to his rate of 180s hit during the 2018 season.

How, then, if Van Gerwen was not hitting the treble 20 with his typical virtuosity was the Dutchman able to reach a finish after nine darts, and a double after 12, in the majority of his legs?

How does a player not on top form (by his own admission) steamroll two world champions and only drop eight out of 37 sets during a World Championship?

Treble 19s (PDC)

With so much attention being paid to treble 20 scoring, it is easy to overlook Van Gerwen's incredible performance on treble 19 at Alexandra Palace.

The 2019 World Champion hit treble 19 an incredible 242 times from 481 darts, with an accuracy percentage of 50.3.

All other players in the tournament combined for 36.6% accuracy, and MvG's opponents managed 39.9 percent.

With his third dart of any given visit, the world number one had a stratospheric 55.7 percent probability of hitting that target.

Mighty Mike may have only struck 46 maximums, but he also had 20 visits of 171, 174 and 177 during the tournament. 

But perhaps the most important score to understanding MvG's deadly accuracy on the treble 19 is 134 - a visit which is often combined with scores of 100, 121 and 125 to comprise a category of "100+ visits", but is equally impressive as a 140.

Van Gerwen missed a first-dart treble 20 but recovered by switching to hit two treble 19s with his last two darts 49 times during the tournament.

He did this nearly once every three legs; by comparison, Rob Cross, a similarly accurate cover shooter, only managed 42 such 134 visits during his World Championship campaign while playing 28 more legs than Van Gerwen.

Michael van Gerwen (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

When attempting treble 19 with both his second and third darts, Van Gerwen nearly couldn't miss - 68.8 percent of his darts in these situations found the green sisal bed.

Switching from treble 19 and to treble 18 can often be seen as a sign of desperation, especially by the more powerful treble 20 hitters.

Michael Smith himself expressed his frustration in the post-match interview at the number of visits to the board (ten) in which he scored 57 by way of single 20, single 19, single 18.

While Bully Boy's treble 19 percentage was a superb 44%, he only managed to hit less than a third of his treble 18s in the World Championship final.

Players such as Smith are well-known for their prodigious totals of 180s and one expects most of their scoring to come from the highest-value treble on the board.

Switching is not only a tactic of MvG, but he is, by any measure, the best in the world at it.

What Van Gerwen is able to do in the few milliseconds after throwing a first dart at treble 20 is to assess, from the position and angle of the dart within the bed and the score remaining in the leg, whether further darts at treble 20 are likely to fill up the bed, or deflect unpredictably off the dart already stuck into the board.

This is why most players tend to hit a 180 10 percent of the time when throwing three darts at the treble 20, but MvG frequently reaches a 180-rate per eligible visit of 25 percent.

Michael van Gerwen (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

When Van Gerwen decides that it's time to switch, his eyes travel down the board as he begins the throwing motion of his next dart.

With little to no hesitation, Van Gerwen's instinctive memory of the board makes the treble 19 bed just as familiar as the treble 20, and when the first dart at treble 19 finds its way in, the odds are overwhelming that the next one will too.

A mere 4 percent of MvG's darts drift into the threes or sevens, moreover, allowing MvG to maximize his scoring on treble 19 like no other player.

Being an excellent switching player is a little like being ambidextrous: being able to rack up big visits and big trebles on either the T20 or T19 with great ease and speed puts one at a great advantage relative to those who are markedly better at, or more dependent on, hitting the treble 20.

Yet MvG still has room for improvement; he is, like Smith, not terribly good at the secondary switch to the treble 18 after throwing one dart each at the treble 20 and 19.

If Van Gerwen can add the treble 18 to his formidable arsenal of favourite targets, who will be able to stop him?

Follow Christopher Kempf on Twitter @Ochepedia