Gary Anderson took a step closer to winning the Triple Crown as he followed his World Championship victory in January with his second major of the year, defeating world number one Michael Van Gerwen 11-7 to win his second Premier League title.
It was a slow start for Anderson who only led once during the interiority of his Semi-Final with Dave Chisnall. A rank outsider 16 weeks ago, the Premier League’s surprise package looked the most likely, leading 6-3 and 7-4.
But Anderson dug in and the game came down to a deciding leg, with the scores level at 9-9. Again, Chisnall looked the most likely and found himself with match darts. But missing the first at double 16, the second at double eight and the final dart falling the wrong side of double four, Anderson stole the show.
Plundering in a 116 checkout, the Scot gained the lead for the first time in the encounter and booked his place in the final, waiting to play either Raymond Van Barneveld or Michael Van Gerwen.
Topping the table, Van Gerwen was the much fancied man but found himself in a spot of bother, as ‘Barney’ had his eyes set on retaining the title he won 12 months ago. He came out the stronger and wired double 12 for a nine-darter in the 10th leg. Keeping his composure, the five-time World Champion took out 110 to move into a 7-4 lead.
But back came the ‘Green Machine’ and after hold his throw twice and taking out 46 for a break in between, the Dutch darters were level at 7-7.
Hints of the Van Gerwen who whitewashed James Wade 7-0 earlier on in the competition began to show and a classy 11-darter saw him take the lead for the first time in the match at 8-7.
With both players then holding throw, the game reached its end with Van Gerwen holding off pressure from ‘RVB’ to cross the finish line and dump out last year’s winner 10-8.
This set up the encounter everyone wanted to see, between the World Number One and the World Champion.
Finding himself 2-0 down, it was the current World Champion who kicked on, winning seven of the next eight legs to move into a commanding 7-3 lead at the interval.
The break seemed to affect Anderson more than his Dutch opponent though and ‘Mighty Mike’ grabbed himself the 11th leg to stop the rot. Finding himself facing the same scoreline in his semi-final, the man in green looked like he might be about to stage another comeback as he took the game to 7-5 before hr missed darts at double in the 13th leg and handed the momentum back to Anderson.
And the game was soon firmly in the ‘Flying Scotsman’s grasp, as a superb 96 finish saw him move to within just a single leg of the title he last claimed back in 2011.
He didn’t have to wait long either, as a trademark double-top wrapped up an 11-7 victory which saw Anderson carry on his great form in major tournaments.
Overall, the 2015 Premier League has illustrated the depth of talent that the PDC has. With Anderson’s form at major tournaments improving and his 2014 Players Championship form translating itself into TV tournament success, his rivalry with Van Gerwen could become the story of the season.
Perhaps the biggest loser on the night was Dave Chisnall, as again, superb form hasn’t led to a major win and despite being heralded the player of the tournament by Anderson, his wait for a major title goes on.
For Van Barneveld, coming up against MVG was always going to be a struggle and his comeback from the brink of relegation on Judgement Night has been superb.
Eyes will now be drawn to July’s World Matchplay in Blackpool where Anderson will look to complete the Triple Crown. He will surely have is work cut out though, as he goes up against Phil Taylor, who is looking for his eighth successive title at Winter Gardens. Despite not making the playoffs for the first time in ten years, ‘The Power’ cannot be written off in Blackpool, as he avenged his 8-5 Premier League semi-final defeat to ‘Barney’ last year with a 18-9 pummelling of Van Gerwen in the final of the Blackpool event.
By Alex Knight