Michael van Gerwen retained his World Matchplay title after beating Phil Taylor 18-10, in front of a packed house at the Winter Gardens. After both had comfortable semi-finals wins on Saturday night, the dream final of the best ever against the best in the world now had the darting world gripped. It was also a repeat of the 2014 final when Taylor left van Gerwen in tears. This time around both players were in much different places. That was Taylor’s last TV major win, and since then van Gerwen has had the wood over Taylor. The last time the two met was at the O2 for the Premier League final; Michael left Phil looking like a broken man that night so had that much changed in 2 months?
Taylor would need to start well as trying to chase MvG is one of the hardest things in darts. In only the third leg of the game the Taylor throw had been broken, as the Dutchman went about his business with a swagger. The nails were being hammered into Taylor’s coffin between legs 8 and 13 when van Gerwen ran off five on the spin to seemingly take the title from Phil’s reach. In fairness, MvG had the final all his own way, as Taylor never looked a threat to the big green machine. Van Gerwen was just too strong for Taylor on the night as Taylor became more and more frustrated.
In an un-Taylor like way, the 16 times champion of the world tried just about everything to get under van Gerwen’s skin. His was playing the crowd when MvG was throwing, in my option out of pure desperation as nothing else was working, and the great man had simply ran out of ideas on how to beat Michael. Van Gerwen now joins a small club of people to retain the World Matchplay Title; he joins Phil Taylor and Rod Harrington as the only ones to do so. Speaking to Skysports after van Gerwen said “It feels amazing to win this title again, I think I played well all through the tournament and I dominated the final – against Phil you always need to step up a bit and I did. To beat Phil is always nice because he’s a legend and I’ve got so much respect for him. He knows that, and that makes it even better to win this trophy by beating him. Phil gave me a chance and he knows that if he gives me a chance I’ll take them, and my confidence was there. He’s never lost in a World Matchplay final so you know you need to play well, and I did that. I think I won this title quite comfortably but I did the right thing at the right moments in this tournament, and I didn’t make a lot of mistakes. I think I’m the best, but you need to show it on that stage, especially in moments like that. I’m a really happy man to retain this title; it means a lot to me.”
Taylor admitted that MvG had bullied him on the ochie this evening when interviewed after. “I’m gutted. I don’t know why but I just didn’t have enough; I’m shattered. He killed me; he bullied me. Darts has changed, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with the greats, this is the greatest as far as I’m concerned. This is a fella that’s dominating like I did. He does everything right and at the moment we’re not. I’ve got to start making changes, and that starts tomorrow morning.”