Van Gerwen raises the iconic trophy aloft (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Mighty Michael van Gerwen secured his third World Championship title with a 7-3 victory over Michael Smith in the final at Alexandra Palace on New Year’s Day.
The world number one, who also claimed glory in 2014 and 2017, got his hands back on the Sid Waddell Trophy following a dominant display as he denied Smith a fairy-tale triumph in his first appearance in a world final.
Van Gerwen raced to the opening four sets without reply, and though Smith fought back to clinch the next two, the Dutch sensation reeled off three of the next four to seal the £500,000 winner’s cheque – the richest in darts history.
“It means the world to me to win this trophy for a third time,” said Van Gerwen.
“Everyone knows I’ve had some difficult times this year, but to win this one is all that matters at the end of the day. This is the best feeling in the world.
“I was a little bit nervous, my body was pumping with adrenaline and to be honest I didn’t play as well as I wanted to, but as long as you win that’s all that matters.
“Michael is a phenomenal player, he pushed me all the way and I am sure that one day he will win the World Championship.
“I think I probably should’ve won more than three World Championship titles by now but it is a great feeling to be able to call myself a three-time World Champion. Now it’s time for a well-deserved holiday!”
The game began with a stunning 129 checkout on the bullseye from Van Gerwen, setting the tone for the tie before edging the deciding leg to claim the opening set.
The Dutchman was at his relentless best, landing a sublime 126 checkout on his way to winning the second set, and followed it up with the next two sets to double his advantage.
Smith produced a magnificent 124 finish to win the deciding leg of set five to get his first set on the board, and then breezed the sixth set without losing a leg to go within two sets of Van Gerwen.
The number one seed quashed any hopes of a Smith comeback, taking the next two sets to go within a leg of victory, only for a dogged Smith to get his third set on the board.
Van Gerwen, who posted his 19th consecutive ton-plus average on the Alexandra Palace stage, found double 16 with his third match dart attempt to claim glory.
“I’m gutted about how the game turned out, I just didn’t get going,” said Smith, who also lost out to MVG in this year’s Premier League final.
“I’m annoyed with myself for how I played, and if I took my chances then maybe it would’ve been a different game.
“I tried way too hard but it’s my first World Championship final and I guarantee it won’t be my last.
“I guarantee that one day I will lift this trophy,” he added.
The 2018/19 World Championship featured a newly-expanded field of 96 players competing for a record £2.5 million in prize money over 16 days, spanning 28 sessions and watched by 85,000 fans inside Alexandra Palace.
World Darts Championship 2018/19 Result
Tuesday January 1
Michael van Gerwen 7-3 Michael Smith