Van Gerwen captures an elusive first Champions League of Darts title (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Michael van Gerwen fought back from the brink to deny Peter Wright in a televised final once again and claim the 2019 Champions League of Darts title in dramatic fashion in Leicester on Sunday.
Van Gerwen looked to be heading for his first defeat to Wright in a TV final, but only for the Scotsman to squander three match darts and blow a 10-7 lead as the world number one snatched the title in a last-leg decider.
The victory means MVG has now won all current PDC televised tournaments on at least one occasion as he avenged last year’s Semi-Final exit at the hands of ‘Snakebite’.
Van Gerwen, who made it back-to-back TV titles following last week’s World Grand Prix success, said: “This tournament was on my bucket list and it’s a really important one for me to win.
“It gives me a lot of confidence because we have lots of big events coming up. It’s nice to have so many tournaments on the calendar and I love to perform on stage, especially when I’m playing well and winning.
“When Peter had those three darts clear at double 12 I thought it was over, but before the last dart he turned around and looked really nervous and I thought this may be a moment for me to step in and I’m really glad I could.
“He bottles it every time he plays me. I think he’s a bit scared of me, is it because of my looks or my ability?!” he joked.
Having finished top of Group A with maximum points, Van Gerwen had also edged out Gerwyn Price 11-10 in an epic Semi-Final with a 105.5 average, seven 180s and 11 doubles from 17 attempts as he defied a 102.5 average and six 180s from the Welshman.
He began the final with an 88 checkout before Wright soon levelled in style with a 156 checkout which was then countered immediately with a stunning 154 from the Dutchman.
Wright went on to clinch five of the next six legs to establish a 6-3 lead before MVG took the next two legs to close the gap.
World Cup of Darts winner Wright, however, quickly restored a three-leg cushion but missed three crucial darts to extend his lead in leg 14 as ‘Mighty Mike’ stayed on his coattails.
Van Gerwen than landed a 136 checkout, but Wright replied with a 76 finish and tops for successive legs to go within one of the title.
The key moment, though, came in leg 18 as Wright missed three match darts at double 12 and Van Gerwen stayed alive with double seven to trail 10-8.
The World Champion smelled blood and finished 92 and 62 to force a decider, before registering a 14-darter on double 16 to clinch victory over a shell-shocked Snakebite.
Wright, who also finished runner-up in 2018, admitted: “Michael won this one but I’ll get him back next time.
“This is done and dusted now and I’ll move on to next week and the European Championship.”
Wright had finished top of Group B after three consecutive wins and went on to brush aside Michael Smith 11-5 in a one-sided opening Semi-Final.
Price was left to ponder what might have been as he fell agonisingly short against MVG, extending his winless run against his Dutch nemesis to 18 matches.
Champions League of Darts 2019 Results
Sunday October 20
Rob Cross 8-10 Peter Wright (Group B)
Daryl Gurney 6-10 Gerwyn Price (Group B)
Michael van Gerwen 10-4 Gary Anderson (Group A)
Michael Smith 10-8 James Wade (Group A)
Peter Wright 11-5 Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen 11-10 Gerwyn Price
Michael van Gerwen 11-10 Peter Wright