Van Gerwen takes world title
Michael Van Gerwen defeated Peter Wright by seven sets to four to win the Ladbrokes World Championship at Alexandra Palace.
The 24-year-old Dutchman, beaten by Phil Taylor in last year's final, was simply too strong for world number 16 Wright and took control of the contest by winning the first four sets.
Although Wright made a fight of it, the Suffolk-based Scot paid for the poor start as Van Gerwen closed out victory to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy.
Van Gerwen lost just a single leg in taking the first two sets, the hot pre-match favourite settling into his game quickly as Wright failed to reproduce the precision for doubles he showed in his semi-final success over Simon Whitlock.
The Dutchman broke his opponent in the first leg of the third set, followed up in the next with his first 180 of the match and wrapped up the set with a finish of 108.
Wright had a chance to break the losing run in the opening leg of the fourth set but missed double top - and it was a similar story in the next leg as he was made to pay for wasting two darts at double eight.
Wright did manage to end a nine-leg losing run but soon after the Dutchman had established a 4-0 lead.
At this stage a whitewash looked a very real prospect. However, 'Snakebite' Wright began to show some form to halt the one-sided nature of the contest.
The 43-year-old won only his third leg of the match in the opener of the fifth and although Van Gerwen edged an uninspiring second leg, Wright hit a 180 on his way to the third and repeated the feat in the fourth, nailing a 130 checkout to pull back to 4-1.
Van Gerwen produced maximums in the first two legs of the sixth set but Wright won both, and although the Dutchman took the third, Wright raised hopes of a comeback when he closed out the set.
The maximum the Dutchman produced in the first leg of the seventh set was the 589th of the tournament, beating the record set in 2012 - and there were some high scores from both players in the rest of the set.
However, a key moment came when Wright missed double top in the deciding leg and paid as Van Gerwen hit double eight to go three sets clear at 5-2.
Both players struggled to nail doubles in the fourth leg of the eighth and after Wright had slipped up on double seven, Van Gerwen found double two to win it and move to within a set of victory.
The first three legs of an edgy ninth set went with throw - and Wright hit the 600th maximum of the tournament in the next, which he edged by hitting double six as both players' struggles for doubles continued.
Wright's bid for an unlikely comeback continued when he took the first leg of the 10th against the darts with a 104 checkout - and that shaped a set which Wright took to reduce the deficit to 6-4.
Van Gerwen opened the 11th set with a 180 but Wright took it - but the Dutchman levelled a 124 checkout and the third leg went with the throw.
He set up hopes of a nine-dart finish with successive 180s in the fourth leg - and although he could not maintain the momentum, Van Gerwen won it to move to within a leg of the title. Despite showing serious nerves in the next leg, he nailed double top to wrap up victory.
The victor told Sky Sports 1: "It was a very tough match. I got nervous after going 4-0 up but it doesn't matter how you win a final, winning it is the most important.
"It's so difficult to win this title and there was more pressure on me this year than last year. It means so much for me,
"It's unbelievable, a dream come true. I'm so glad I won but all credit to Peter, he did well and put me under pressure."
Wright added: "I never give up - that's my game. The crowd got behind me and made me play - but well done Michael."