MICHAEL VAN GERWEN retained his Unibet Masters title with an imperious 11-6 defeat of Dave Chisnall at ArenaMK on Sunday night, after surviving seven missed darts against Phil Taylor on his way to glory.
Van Gerwen had kicked off his 2015 challenge with victory in Milton Keynes before going on to win a further 17 events during the year, and again came out on top in the battle of the world’s top 16.
After storming past both Stephen Bunting and Michael Smith for the loss of only four legs as he reached the semi-finals, van Gerwen then overcame a huge scare to see off a revitalised Taylor 11-10.
Taylor himself had come through a deciding leg in his quarter-final win over Peter Wright, but missed seven darts to defeat van Gerwen before the Dutchman produced a 12-darter to move into the final.
There, he took the opening five legs without giving Chisnall a dart at a double, hitting four 180s in the process, and went on to finish 110 as he led 7-1.
Chisnall – who had hit back from 8-0 down to win his first round tie with Robert Thornton before also defeating Vincent van der Voort and James Wade – took three of the next four legs to threaten another comeback as he cut the gap to 8-4.
The next four were shared as Chisnall matched his rival’s tally of six 180s, but the world number ten was unable to claim another break of throw as van Gerwen held on to hit double five for the title.
“I’m really happy to win this trophy,” said van Gerwen, who averaged 104 for the tournament. “I really had to work for this and it was a hard day.
“I had a bit of luck but you can’t ask for anything more than to be holding the trophy at the end. Phil missed seven match darts, which he normally never does, and when someone gives you a chance like that you have to take it.
“At 5-0 in the final I knew the game was over. I had a couple of good finishes afterwards, held my own throw and it was enough to win the game.
“It was a tough day and I feel fantastic. It means a lot to me and I’m really glad to win this Unibet Masters again.
“I started last year exactly the same and we start the Premier League this Thursday, so that’s my aim now. I’ll enjoy this win and get myself ready to play James Wade in Leeds.”
Chisnall was appearing in the fourth televised final of his career, having hit a thrilling 12 maximums in his 11-6 semi-final win over James Wade, but the St Helens ace was left to take home the Ł25,000 runner-up prize.
“After being 8-0 down in the first round I didn’t expect to get through that, so it’s a great weekend to reach the final,” said Chisnall. “I’m not happy with how I played in the final but there were a few tired darts.
“I beat Michael in the World Grand Prix a couple of years ago and he’s punished me for it ever since! You can’t give him a head start like I did but he was too good there and he showed why he’s the world number one.
“I’m playing really well but it wasn’t meant to be and I’ll try again in the next tournament.”
2016 Unibet Masters
Sunday January 31
Kim Huybrechts 5-10 James Wade
Vincent van der Voort 4-10 Dave Chisnall
Phil Taylor 10-9 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 10-3 Michael Smith
Dave Chisnall 11-6 James Wade
Michael van Gerwen 11-10 Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen 11-6 Dave Chisnall
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN and Phil Taylor will clash in the semi-finals of the Unibet Masters after enjoying contrasting victories on Sunday afternoon, as James Wade and Dave Chisnall also reached the last four at ArenaMK.
Reigning Masters champion van Gerwen followed up his 10-1 first round demolition of Stephen Bunting by sweeping past Michael Smith 10-3 with an average of almost 106.
The Dutchman’s finishing proved the difference as he hit ten doubles from 13 attempts in a brilliant performance, landing two 124 checkouts as he moved into an 8-0 lead before sealing victory by taking out 142.
“I had a fantastic first five legs and I put him under pressure from the start,” said van Gerwen. “My performance was really good, especially my finishing.
“I also need to produce it tonight because you can’t write Phil Taylor off and he’s full of confidence at the moment.”
2013 Masters champion Taylor, meanwhile, won a thrilling clash with Peter Wright 10-9, with the number five seed hitting nine 180s and three ton-plus checkouts but paying the price for missing one match dart in the game’s penultimate leg.
The deciding leg saw Taylor land two 180s and Wright fire in a maximum and a 174 score before the 16-time World Champion showed his class to prevail with an 11-darter.
“Peter hit some great shots and I didn’t think he’d miss the double 19 to win, but he gave me that one shot and the last leg was brilliant – the best leg of the game,” said Taylor. “I’m over the moon because I thought I’d blown it.
“It’s great for me because I’ve got new darts, a new set-up and new regime and I’m pushing forward. I’m loving it and I’ll be there and thereabouts.”
Wright said: “To play Phil on any stage is an honour, and I wasn’t good enough on the day. I wish Phil all the best but I’ll get back on the practice board.”
The other previous Masters champion, 2014 winner James Wade, defeated Kim Huybrechts 10-5 as he progressed to the last four with a dominant display.
“Kim didn’t make the most of his opportunities and I did enough to win,” said Wade. “When I had to turn it up I did, so I’m happy.”
Wade now plays Dave Chisnall, who followed up his magical comeback win in the first round by defeating Vincent van der Voort 10-4 with an impressive 104 average.
“A 104 average is good and as soon as I got the big lead at 7-3 I was never going to let it go,” said Chisnall. “I’m hard to beat when I get my nose in front so I’m very happy.
“I had a bit of luck in the game yesterday but today I was very confident of winning. It should be a good game between me and James and I’ll keep trying.”
Dave Chisnall v James Wade
Dave Chisnall powered into the fourth televised final of his career by landing 12 180s in a superb 11-6 defeat of James Wade at ArenaMK.
Five of those maximums came in the opening five legs as Chisnall also landed a 174 score in opening up an early 4-1 lead, before Wade finished legs of 14, 12 and 12 darts – hitting five maximums of his own in a three-leg burst to level.
Wade also landed a 180 and a 138 checkout to level in the tenth leg, but Chisnall found another gear to take the next five legs without reply and move 10-5 up, hitting another three 180s and claiming two breaks of throw.
Wade took out double eight to keep his hopes alive but it would prove a brief rally as Chisnall took out 117 to seal his spot in the final.
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen survived seven missed match darts from Phil Taylor to continue his challenge to retain the Unibet Masters title with a nerve-shredding 11-10 semi-final win over his great rival.
Taylor’s bid to return to winning ways on the big stage had seen him take leads of 3-1, 7-4 and 9-6 in a high-quality contest, only for van Gerwen to take out finishes of 161, 130 and 144 as he levelled at nine-all.
Taylor landed a 174 score before double 16 put him 10-9 up, only to then miss seven match darts in leg 20 as van Gerwen scrambled in double 16 to send the match into a decider.
The world number one scored 140, 140 and 134 to leave 87, and when Taylor was unable to take out 122 the Dutchman stepped in to finish the combination on double 12 to seal his great escape.
Video interviews with Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall are available at the OfficialPDC YouTube Channel via www.youtube.com/OfficialPDC