Van Gerwen Denies Wright In Thriller

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN'S incredible run of form continued as he claimed a third successive televised title at the inaugural Unibet World Series of Darts Finals in Glasgow on Sunday night, defeating Peter Wright 11-10 in a superb final.

World number one van Gerwen has won the European Championship and Grand Slam of Darts titles this month, and claimed the £30,000 first prize at the Braehead Arena with some stunning darts.

Van Gerwen, the winner of May's Dubai Darts Masters in the first of five international World Series events this year, was outstanding in his defeats of Raymond van Barneveld and Adrian Lewis to reach the final.

He then held off Wright's fightback from 4-0 down, as the Scot moved 5-4 up and also led 10-9 before the Dutchman produced a stunning 11-darter in the deciding leg.

"It feels amazing to also win this tournament and it's a good feeling," admitted van Gerwen, who took home a £30,000 first prize. "I had to play really well and I think this was a fantastic final, one of the best.

"Peter's a fantastic player and sooner or later he'll win a TV tournament, but I played well when I had to, especially at the end.

"The 129 was better than the 170 finish, but then the 180 afterwards was even better again because Peter put the pressure on me with a 140 at the start of the last leg, and I can see how strong I am when I need to be.

"The level at the moment is phenomenal and I'm really glad to be a part of that. I'm feeling great and I'm probably playing the best darts of my life.

"I want to win everything but it was a pleasure to play in this event and I think I deserved to win this trophy."

Van Gerwen made a storming start to the final, winning the opening four legs without reply, twice punishing Wright for missed doubles and landing back-to-back 14-darters.

Wright hit back with a 14-dart leg of his own in the fifth before a superb 121 bull finish was followed by a second successive 12-darter, and he added another 180 to level and double eight to amazingly move 5-4 up.

Van Gerwen stopped him in his tracks with a sensational 170 checkout, but Wright held throw to win two of the next three before the Dutchman hit 180s in successive legs to move 8-7 up.

Wright, though, again responded as he took out a 116 checkout to break and level and a 13-darter to move 9-8 up, and after van Gerwen took the 18th with another 12-dart finish the Scot posted double nine to move a leg away from his first televised title.

Wright then hit a 180 to leave 90 in the 20th leg, only to see van Gerwen produce a killer 129 checkout on the bull to force a decider.

Wright's two 140s were bettered by a 180 from van Gerwen as he left 50 after nine darts, and when the home favourite was unable to take out 121, the Dutchman stepped in to land double 16 for an 11-darter and glory.

Wright has previously lost to van Gerwen in the World Championship, Dubai Darts Masters and UK Open finals, and admitted: "It was a good final and I really enjoyed it - and I'm getting closer.

"The 129 was a fantastic shot and Michael played brilliantly in the last leg, and that's why he's number one in the world.

"Michael's a different class above everyone else at the moment, and for me to get that close, having been using these darts for a few weeks, I'm pretty happy and it won't be long before it's my turn.

"I'm pushing Michael and it was good to give him a game because the last time we played I didn't, and there's more to come from me. The support was incredible and I can only thank the fans for their support."

Wright had earlier defeated 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor 11-9 in another thrilling contest, taking a 6-3 lead in mid-game and holding off the Stoke legend's fightback to close out the win.

Van Gerwen had been unstoppable in his 11-5 semi-final win over Adrian Lewis, hitting a 108 average and nine 180s in a stunning display.

Lewis - August's Auckland Darts Masters champion - averaged over 100 himself after averaging 105 in his quarter-final win over Terry Jenkins, and admitted: "I lost to the best player in the world at the minute and he was just too good tonight.

"I missed a few doubles early on and he got ahead of me, but I really enjoyed the tournament and it's been another learning curve for me. I'm putting a lot of work in at the moment and the results will start to come."

QUARTER-FINALS ROUND-UP
PHIL TAYLOR, Peter Wright, Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis produced outstanding displays to progress to the semi-finals of the Unibet World Series of Darts Finals on Sunday afternoon.

Taylor, who won three of the international World Series events in Japan, Perth and Sydney earlier in 2015, continued his challenge to claim the £30,000 first prize in Glasgow with a clinical 10-3 quarter-final win over Stephen Bunting.

Taylor took the opening five legs without reply and also led 7-1 as a 121 checkout saw him pull clear, and though Bunting hit a 128 bullseye finish in a brief rally, the 16-time World Champion proved too strong.

Taylor now faces Peter Wright in the semi-finals as the tournament's decisive final session kicks off on Sunday evening, and is aiming to go all the way to another victory at the Braehead Arena.

"Going 5-0 up was important but Stephen didn't give up," said Taylor. "He's a good player and a good lad and he's getting back to his best.

"It's a great challenge tonight and I'd love to win this title."

Wright also averaged over 100 as he defeated James Wade 10-6 in their last eight contest, although the Scottish-born ace did much of the damage as he led 5-1 and 9-3.

Wade checked out 161, 96 and tops to win three legs to reply, but Wright - June's Japan Darts Masters runner-up - followed an eighth 180 with a 74 checkout as he secured his last four spot.

"I've played James a lot this year and he's playing some fantastic darts, but he missed some doubles today and I took advantage of it," said Wright.

"He was coming back and I know how he can reel off the legs, so I was happy to get over the winning line."

World number one Michael van Gerwen's bid to win a third successive televised tournament saw him come from 8-6 down to win 10-8 in a high-quality contest with Dutch rival Raymond van Barneveld.

Van Gerwen took out finishes of 146 and 126 as he shared the opening eight legs, before van Barneveld's 127 bull checkout helped him to break throw as he moved 7-4 up.

Van Gerwen's ten-dart finish was followed by another bullseye from van Barneveld as he took out 81 to lead 8-6, only for van Gerwen to turn the game on its head with legs of 13 and 12 darts before punishing single misses from his rival in the next two to seal victory with a 106.42 average.

"Raymond played well but I felt more comfortable as the game went on and I'm really happy with how I played," said van Gerwen, who won the Dubai Darts Masters title in May.

"The 106 average was massive but I needed to do that and I hope I can carry this on in the semi-finals and final."

Lewis, meanwhile, was back to his brilliant best as he averaged over 105 in a 10-6 win over Terry Jenkins, who had knocked out World Champion Gary Anderson on Saturday and landed eight 180s in another strong display.

Lewis, though, took six legs from seven as he turned an early 2-1 deficit into a 7-3 lead, before holding off Jenkins' rally to close out the win and progress to a clash with van Gerwen.

"Terry was hitting 180s pretty much every time I looked up and he was at his best there, so I'm happy to get over the line," said Lewis.

"I finished number two in the World Series rankings and I've done half of the job, now it's time to finish it off tonight."

Unibet World Series of Darts Finals
Sunday November 22
Afternoon Session
Quarter-Finals
James Wade 6-10 Peter Wright
Phil Taylor 10-3 Stephen Bunting
Adrian Lewis 10-6 Terry Jenkins
Raymond van Barneveld 8-10 Michael van Gerwen
Best of 19 legs

Evening Session
Semi-Finals
Phil Taylor 9-11 Peter Wright
Adrian Lewis 5-11 Michael van Gerwen
Best of 21 legs

Final
Peter Wright 10-11 Michael van Gerwen
Best of 21 legs