Michael van Gerwen created Premier League history by winning his seventh title to move clear of the great Phil Taylor.
The Dutchman, who joined Taylor on six wins 12 months ago, overtook him after a masterful performance to beat Gerwyn Price 11-5 in the final at the O2 Arena.
Van Gerwen, whose participation was in doubt after withdrawing from last week’s final weekly round in Aberdeen with a shoulder injury, has dominated this competition since winning his first title 10 years ago.
No one loves the 02 stage quite like him and after edging a thrilling semi-final against rival Michael Smith – which he won 10-8 – he got the better of Price in the final. He threw three 100-plus checkouts – a 170, 150 and 128 – and averaged 105.43 as he dominated his opponent.
He was averaging more than 110 by the time he took out the big fish to break Price’s throw in the sixth leg and then claimed a second break with a 128 checkout to make it four legs in a row.
Price stopped the rot with a 161 checkout of his own and the Welshman then broke Van Gerwen’s throw in a scrappy leg that saw him reduce the deficit to 7-4. But Van Gerwen put his foot on the pedal again and a 150 checkout put him one leg away, which he had no problems in taking out to lift the trophy for the seventh time.
He said during his on-stage interview: “I have worked really hard lately. Everyone knows I had problems last week. I put pressure on myself and I keep doing that and today it motivated me. I played some fantastic darts, what more can you wish for than to win this trophy?
“You always have to pick the right moment, to come back here in the O2 and play the likes of Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price, you have to perform your A-game, I knew I had to do something special today and I am glad I was able to. It feels amazing, to beat Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith feels good and to win for a seventh time is a nice little extra thing.”
Price is still searching for his first title and a brilliant campaign, where he won four of the weekly rounds, ends in ultimate disappointment.
“The Iceman” had earlier beaten his compatriot Jonny Clayton in the semi-final, winning 10-2 in double-quick time, but he fell short in the big one against Van Gerwen.
But his performances going around the country will go some way to repairing his fractured relationship with the crowd, which saw him exit the World Championship at Christmas in dismay having being forced to wear ear defenders such was the negative reaction towards him inside the Alexandra Palace.
He was crestfallen after the loss, saying: “I just couldn’t find the trebles, the doubles, I couldn’t find anything, that’s how it goes sometimes.
“I’m gutted. I just felt this one is the one that got away, I was missing by so far, I wasn’t even close, I don’t know what happened.”