MICHAEL VAN GERWEN defeated Rob Cross in the final of the HappyBet European Darts Trophy on Sunday in Gottingen to claim an incredible 20th career European Tour title.
The world number one triumphed 6-4 in the decider to clinch his sixth European Tour success of 2017, as he secured his position as the number one seed for the Unibet European Championship later this month.
Having dropped just two legs in three matches on Sunday to reach the final, Van Gerwen found himself behind against Cross before firing in a sublime 160 checkout in leg two.
Cross edged back ahead but consecutive finishes of 68 and 100 saw the World Champion take the lead for the first time.
Players Championship Order of Merit winner Cross landed double nine to cancel out Van Gerwen’s break, but the Dutchman responded with his only maximum of the final, before landing tops to move 4-3 in front.
Van Gerwen then added a third hundred-plus checkout, this time finishing 150 to move to brink of victory, but Cross produced a 180 and pinned double 16 to keep his hopes alive.
Reigning European Champion Van Gerwen would not be denied the £25,000 winner’s cheque, however, as he finished the job on double five.
“I’m very happy to have won this tournament and I felt great all weekend,” said Van Gerwen, who bounced back from a first round exit at the World Grand Prix.
“I decided to take a holiday after losing in Dublin and it paid off. I feel refreshed and ready for the big part of the season – that started with winning this tournament.
“Rob has had a great season but I always feel confident against whoever I play and they know it is a different game against me. I pulled out some big shots at the right times and that is why I won the final.”
After defeating Zoran Lerchbacher on Saturday, Van Gerwen continued a dominant run to the decider 24 hours later.
The Dutch ace saw off Stephen Bunting 6-1 before whitewashing Joe Cullen to reach the semi-finals.
There, he averaged 110.39 in a 6-1 success over World Grand Prix finalist Simon Whitlock, with the aid of a 124 checkout on the bullseye.
Cross, who has won four ProTour titles in 2017, continued his excellent debut season with a run to his second European Tour final.
After averaging over 105 in a 6-2 victory over Keegan Brown, he then defeated 2017 Gibraltar Darts Trophy winner Michael Smith 6-3 in the quarter-finals.
Cross then completed his 6-1 triumph against Kim Huybrechts with a 115 finish, as the Hastings star moved into the decider.
Huybrechts had produced his best performance of the day in a 6-4 quarter-final defeat of Dave Chisnall, where Belgium’s number one landed six 180s – after earlier defying an average of 110.59 from Peter Wright to win their last 16 match 6-3.
Whitlock followed up his run to the final of the World Grand Prix with another impressive showing, defeating Jan Dekker and Andy Boulton on Sunday to reach his third European Tour semi-final of the year.
Boulton’s exceptional run came to end at the hands of the Australian but only after the Stoke thrower had added Vincent van der Voort to his list of conquests – following victories against Kevin Painter and World Grand Prix Champion Daryl Gurney in reaching the final day.
Cullen had beaten Alan Norris to reach the last eight, where he suffered a crushing defeat to Van Gerwen.
Smith and Chisnall both enjoyed 6-3 victories in the last 16 against Jonny Clayton and Jelle Klaasen respectively, but neither managed to progress any further.
The HappyBet European Darts Trophy was the final European Tour event of the year, with Van Gerwen winning six of the 12 tournaments.
World number two Wright won five titles, with Smith being the only other player to taste success in 2017.
Van Gerwen added: “Peter Wright was doing really well at the start of the year but when the real Michael turned up I was the best.”
HappyBet European Darts Trophy
Sunday October 15
Michael Smith 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Rob Cross 6-2 Keegan Brown
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Peter Wright
Simon Whitlock 6-2 Jan Dekker
Andy Boulton 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
Joe Cullen 6-2 Alan Norris
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Stephen Bunting
Rob Cross 6-3 Michael Smith
Kim Huybrechts 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Simon Whitlock 6-4 Andy Boulton
Michael van Gerwen 6-0 Joe Cullen
Rob Cross 6-1 Kim Huybrechts
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Simon Whitlock
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Rob Cross