Michael van Gerwen made it back-to-back World Series titles as he claimed glory at the inaugural New Zealand Masters in Hamilton on Saturday, thrashing Raymond van Barneveld 8-1 in the final.
Van Gerwen, who opened his 2019 World Series account in Melbourne last weekend, picked up from where he left off to clinch a 14th World Series title and a 50th career televised triumph.
Van Barneveld was appearing in his third World Series final in New Zealand but could not avert a second successive runner-up spot despite a resurgent showing at the Claudelands Arena.
“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.
“I told my wife before I left three weeks ago, I am going to win two of the three events while 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 early scare.
He added: “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 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 did not stop there for Van Barneveld as his fellow countryman piled on the pressure and broke again with a 100 checkout in the fourth leg, before going 5-0 ahead.
The 52-year-old eventually got a leg on the board as he pinned double ten in the sixth to stop the rot, but any hopes of a revival were 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.
Van Gerwen began his final day surge 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 straightforward affair as MVG put former World Champion Rob Cross to the sword with a rampant 8-3 victory.
Van Barneveld’s route to his first World Series final of 2019 saw him first take on Daryl Gurney, where almost 60% on his double attempts proved the crucial statistic with the Dutchman edging through 8-6.
Crowd favourite Van Barneveld the dug deep to defeat World Series Finals champion James Wade 8-5 with a 97 average and the aid of a stunning 154 checkout.
Van Barneveld said: “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’ve 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 from November 1-3, with Van Gerwen taking his place as the number one seed.
New Zealand Darts Masters 2019 Results
Saturday August 24
Peter Wright 4-8 James Wade
Daryl Gurney 6-8 Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen 8-5 Gary Anderson
Rob Cross 8-3 Ben Robb
James Wade 5-8 Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen 8-3 Rob Cross
Michael van Gerwen 8-1 Raymond van Barneveld