Michael van Gerwen hailed his third Betfred World Matchplay triumph as one of the greatest wins of his career, after he fought back to record a thrilling 18-14 victory over Gerwyn Price in Sunday’s Winter Gardens showpiece.
Van Gerwen produced a stunning display to deny Price a first World Matchplay crown, averaging 101.19, landing fifteen maximums and converting five ton-plus checkouts to scoop the £200,000 top prize.
The Dutchman endured a torrid start on the outer ring, missing his first eight darts at double as Price raced into an early 4-0 lead.
Van Gerwen, who missed double 12 for a spectacular nine-darter in leg five, trailed for much of the contest, with the Welshman moving 9-6 ahead despite a significantly inferior average.
However, after levelling at 12-12, Van Gerwen made a stunning surge for victory, taking out brilliant 130, 114 and 121 combination finishes in the final four legs to seal a famous victory.
“I kept believing in my own ability and my own form," said the 33-year-old, who becomes only the second player after Phil Taylor to claim a hat-trick of World Matchplay titles.
“I know I was the better player for most of the game, because my scoring power was there. The only thing that really let me down was my doubles.
“I missed too many doubles early doors, but to win in the way that I did, it gives me a great feeling.”
Van Gerwen enjoyed nearly a decade of darting dominance following his maiden PDC televised win at the 2012 World Grand Prix, though the last 18 months have been among the toughest of his career.
The Boxtel ace relinquished his status as the world’s premier player, and he’s also been plagued by injury, undergoing surgery to resolve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in his throwing arm last month.
Nevertheless, having lifted his sixth Cazoo Premier League crown in Berlin last month, Van Gerwen is now celebrating his first televised ranking success since November 2020, as his revival continues.
“After my world titles, this probably comes on top with the first time I won the Premier League against Phil Taylor," added the three-time World Champion.
“This is a massive trophy and it is massive for me to win it again. This year I have already won a few Pro Tours, a few Euro Tours, the Premier League and the World Matchplay.
“I have won all the most important tournaments so far, so I can’t really complain.
“I know there is more in the tank, and I have to battle through, because everybody knows where I am coming from after the operation.”
"This is a massive trophy and it is massive for me to win it again"— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) July 24, 2022
Michael van Gerwen is on top of the world once again as he lifts the coveted Phil Taylor trophy for the third time in his career!
Hear from your newly crowned Champion! pic.twitter.com/xDjylg8A95
Van Gerwen defeated five TV title winners en route to glory at the Empress Ballroom, seeing off Adrian Lewis, Joe Cullen, Nathan Aspinall and Dimitri Van den Bergh before his heroics against Price.
The world number three wasn’t at his blistering best for much of the tournament, but he delivered the goods in an electric Winter Gardens atmosphere on Sunday night.
Van Gerwen and Price were remarkably contesting their first final in front of the Sky Sports cameras, and the Dutch legend insists self-belief was the key to his astonishing display.
“I still had doubts even before last night because we all knew Gerwyn was in incredible form, but I also know I’m a different player to play against,” Van Gerwen continued.
“I have a lot of respect for Gerwyn because I think he’s a great player. He is a credit to darts, so that makes it even nicer for me to play against him.
“When you keep believing in yourself, when you keep dreaming and you want to perform at the right moment, you can do something special and that’s what I did.
“It is definitely a great platform [for the rest of the year]. This means the world to me.
“I know this means I am going up in the rankings, and it gives me confidence again, which is really important.”