Van Gerwen victorious in Hamilton

Michael van Gerwen went back-to-back on the World Series as he defeated Raymond van Barneveld 8-1 in the final of the 2019 New Zealand Darts Masters, presented by Burger King and TAB.

The current world champion, who won the corresponding event in Auckland in 2018 and also a World Series title in Melbourne last week, was too good for his fellow Dutchman in the final and went on to claim the inaugural NZ Darts Masters crown in front of a 4000-strong crowd at the Claudelands Arena in Hamilton.

It was a third final in five years in New Zealand for Van Barneveld, but in a repeat of the previous year, Van Gerwen once again proved too strong for his retiring compatriot.

The final began with Van Barneveld missing three darts at doubles in the opening two legs with Van Gerwen punishing his opponent to take a 2-0 lead.

The pain didn’t stop for Van Barneveld there, as his fellow countryman piled on the pressure and broke again with a 100 checkout in the fourth leg, before going five-nil ahead.

The 52-year old eventually did get a leg on the board as he pinned double ten in the sixth leg of the match to stop the rot and stall Van Gerwen’s relentless surge to the title.

That brief moment of joy was short-lived for Van Barneveld though as the world number one went on to win the next three legs and walk away with the title.

“I am so happy to win this title in Hamilton, it has been a phenomenal tournament and the crowd has been amazing,” said Van Gerwen after the final.

“I told my wife before I left three weeks ago, I am going to win two of the three events whilst I’m away and I’m so happy to have done that.

“To play a final against Raymond is always an honour. Raymond has been good for darts, like Maradona was good for football but now Messi has taken over. It’s the same in darts now.

Van Gerwen, who came within a dart of being knocked out by Kyle Anderson in round one also discussed his ability to put bad performances behind him after the decider.

“Mentally I am the strongest player, I know how good I am and no bad game will ever change that.

“I can never be perfect all the time, I am not a robot but I know how strong I am and I know I am the best right now.”

The 32-year-old began his final day surge to a 14th World Series title with a scintillating 8-5 win over his big rival Gary Anderson in a repeat of their last eight clash in Melbourne a week earlier.

The Scot, who had to have two teeth removed on the day of the game after suffering with toothache the night before still managed to put up a worthy fight against his opponent.

The Premier League champion punished Anderson for some early misses to take control of the quarter-final and went on to finish the match with an average of over 106.

The semi-final was a far more straight forward affair as Van Gerwen put former world champion Rob Cross to the sword in an 8-3 victory and set up the all-Dutch clash with van Barneveld.

The five-time world champion’s route to his first World Series final of 2019 saw him first take on Daryl Gurney in the last eight, where almost 60% on his double attempts proved the crucial statistic with Van Barneveld running out a 8-6 winner.

James Wade was the Dutchman’s semi-final opponent, with the current World Series of Darts Finals champion aiming to win a first televised title of 2019.

Like in his quarter-final encounter, greater finishing accuracy proved to be the telling point of the semi-final with Van Barneveld hitting almost 50 percent of his attempts, compared to Wade’s 30 percent.

The 2014 Premier League champion would eventually seal a 8-5 win and secure a place in the final in Hamilton.

Despite the loss, Van Barneveld spoke of his pride after the final.

“How can you be sad when the crowd is so amazing? I am so thankful for this crowd and I’m sorry I couldn’t say goodbye with the title.

“I have had an amazing week and I just want to say thank you to the PDC and all the staff for making this a fantastic trip.

“There is a lot left to play for this year so it is time to go home, rest and get ready for the rest of the year.”

The 2019 World Series of Darts will conclude in November with the Finals taking place in Amsterdam for the first time between November 1-3 with Michael van Gerwen taking his place as the number one seed.

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