Michael van Gerwen hit the second nine-darter in the history of the Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals during his win over Adrian Lewis on Saturday afternoon.
The Dutchman produced his own sixth perfect leg, and the first in a televised event for 12 months, as he scored 180, 177 and then finished 144 to complete a brilliant achievement.
Van Gerwen had earlier overturned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead in their second round tie, with Lewis hitting back in leg seven before the Dutchman’s moment of perfect in leg eight opened up a 5-3 advantage.
Lewis battled back bravely to force a deciding leg, but Van Gerwen took out 72 to remain on course for a fifth Players Championship Finals title.
“The nine-darter is always nice,” said Van Gerwen. “Adrian was pushing me and put me under pressure, so you have to do the right things at the right moments.
“It’s only one leg and I’ve got to be better tonight, because if you give the other guys a finger they take your whole hand and you can’t afford any mistakes.”
Alan Norris had been the only player previously in the event to achieve a nine-darter, with his achievement coming on Stage Two in the 2016 tournament.
Van Gerwen’s perfect leg was the 47th in a PDC event so far in 2019, but the first in a televised event since the 2018 Grand Slam of Darts, when Dimitri Van den Bergh enjoyed a moment of perfection.
Van Gerwen now faces a third round tie on Saturday evening with James Wade, who swept past Ricky Evans with a 6-1 victory in their last 32 encounter.
(Image courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
NINE-DART VAN GERWEN HEADS LAST EIGHT AT LADBROKES PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
Nine-dart hero Michael van Gerwen and in-form Gerwyn Price headlined the eight players to progress to Sunday’s final stages of the Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals at the Butlin’s Minehead Resort.
An action-packed Saturday in Somerset saw the second round and third rounds take place as the field was whittled down to the last eight, who will now challenge for the £100,000 title on the final day of play.
Van Gerwen stole the show in Minehead with two outstanding performances, including a perfect leg during his 6-5 second round win over Adrian Lewis.
The achievement, which came in leg eight as he opened up a 5-3 lead, was only the second nine-darter in the history of the event and the first in a televised match for over 12 months.
Van Gerwen went on to deny Lewis in a deciding leg, before coming from 3-1 and 6-5 down in the third round against James Wade to reel off five straight legs in booking a quarter-final place.
“It was a good day for me,” said Van Gerwen, who averaged 106 to Wade’s 102 in a high-quality game.
“I think it was a great game to watch against James. I had to dig deep but I missed some darts early on and I was behind him so I had to work really hard.
“I did the right things at the right moments against both Adrian and James but now I have to focus on the final day. I know I have got more in my power and I want to show that.”
Van Gerwen now plays Mervyn King in the last eight, with the 2010 finalist following up his 6-4 win over Dave Chisnall in round two with a 105 average to see off world number two Rob Cross 10-4.
King sealed his third round win with a 131 checkout, and despite battling the pain of a sciatic nerve problem is aiming to repeat his Minehead win over Van Gerwen in March’s UK Open.
“I’m really pleased to be through because when my sciatica starts then you can’t get rid of it, and if the game with Rob had gone on much longer I might not have lasted,” said King.
“I’ll rest now and get myself ready for the quarter-finals because I’ve beaten Michael before and I can do it again.”
Grand Slam of Darts winner Gerwyn Price continued his challenge to claim a second successive title with an impressive day in Minehead, following up a 6-0 whitewash of Keegan Brown with a 102 average in a 10-4 win over Mensur Suljovic.
“I’m happy to get through to the last day but I’ve got a lot more in the tank and hopefully I can bring it out tomorrow,” said Price.
“I was slow out of the blocks against Mensur so to average 102 is great – but I will need to play better to take this title. I won’t take anything for granted, I’ll just focus on my next game.”
Price’s quarter-final opponent will be Stephen Bunting, who was in superb form as he averaged 105 to see off Jose De Sousa 6-3 on Saturday afternoon before topping that with a 107 average in a 10-2 defeat of Ryan Meikle in the last 16.
The wins moved Bunting into the last eight of the event for a second successive year, and he said: “It’s an amazing feeling and today I’ve produced two of my most consistent games ever.
“Hopefully I can continue this form and I can look forward to a great game against Gerwyn. I’m working really hard behind the scenes and I feel brilliant in my game and brilliant in myself.
“I believe I’m better now than I’ve ever been. I’m loving playing darts and it’s showing.”
Raymond van Barneveld’s bid to say farewell to Minehead with glory continued as he defeated Joe Cullen 6-3 before then overcoming Glen Durrant 10-3 – despite the Lakeside Champion narrowly missing double 12 for a nine-darter.
“I feel good and I’m happy because I’ve been playing well,” said Van Barneveld. “It’s a massive win against a three-time World Champion, and even though Glen wasn’t at his best I’m really happy to be through.
“I’ve been practising hard on my doubles and I’ve got nothing to lose. I was under pressure earlier in the year to qualify for things but that’s gone now and I’d love to play a couple of games more and maybe reach the final here.”
Van Barneveld’s quarter-final opponent will be Chris Dobey, who whitewashed James Wilson in round two before coming from 5-2 down to defeat John Henderson 10-5.
Dobey also reached the last eight 12 months ago, and admitted: “I’m relieved to be through to the final day and hopefully I can keep progressing.
“I’m confident in my game, I’m playing well and my doubles are going in. I felt good today and against John I came back with all guns blazing.”
Ian White reached the quarter-finals of the event for a third time with an outstanding 107.46 average in a 10-4 defeat of Michael Smith on Saturday night, following up his narrow 6-5 win over Vincent van der Voort in round two.
“It’s nice to be through,” said White. “I’m playing good darts and I want to keep this going tomorrow. I had a tough game in the afternoon but everything went in for me tonight and I felt good.”
White will meet William O’Connor after the Irishman – a World Cup finalist in June alongside Steve Lennon – secured his spot in the last eight of a televised singles tournament for the first time.
O’Connor was a 6-3 winner against Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski in round two, before ending the challenge of emerging German ace Gabriel Clemens with a 10-7 success.
O’Connor led 4-0 before seeing his lead cut to one leg, and Clemens also landed a ten-darter but was never able to level as the 33-year-old from Limerick moved into Sunday’s final day of action.
“Gabriel has been in savage form so it’s a huge game to get over him, and I’ll prepare for one big game on Sunday now in the last eight and see how that goes,” said O’Connor.
“I want to be more consistent and I have to work on that, but I have my chance now and I want to take it.”
Sunday’s Players Championship Finals winner will scoop a £100,000 first prize, with Van Gerwen being the only former champion still remaining in the competition.
The final day of action will also feature the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship final between Adam Gawlas, a 17-year-old from the Czech Republic, and Luke Humphries, the two-time Development Tour Order of Merit winner.
2019 Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals
Saturday November 23
Gerwyn Price 6-0 Keegan Brown
James Wade 6-1 Ricky Evans
Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Danny Noppert
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Luke Woodhouse
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Adrian Lewis – Michael van Gerwen hits nine-dart finish
Chris Dobey 6-0 James Wilson
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Joe Cullen
Rob Cross 6-4 Jamie Hughes
John Henderson 6-3 Simon Whitlock
Ryan Meikle 6-5 Darius Labanauskas
Stephen Bunting 6-3 Jose De Sousa
Ian White 6-5 Vincent van der Voort
William O’Connor 6-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Glen Durrant 6-5 Max Hopp
Mervyn King 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Michael Smith 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Gerwyn Price 10-4 Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen 10-6 James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld 10-3 Glen Durrant
Mervyn King 10-4 Rob Cross
Stephen Bunting 10-2 Ryan Meikle
William O’Connor 10-7 Gabriel Clemens
Chris Dobey 10-5 John Henderson
Ian White 10-4 Michael Smith
Sunday November 24
Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)
Gerwyn Price v Stephen Bunting
Raymond van Barneveld v Chris Dobey
Michael van Gerwen v Mervyn King
Ian White v William O’Connor
Best of 19 legs
Evening Session (1900 GMT)
Price/Bunting v Van Barneveld/Dobey
Van Gerwen/King v White/O’Connor
Best of 21 legs
Best of 21 legs
PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship Final
Adam Gawlas v Luke Humphries
Best of 11 legs