By Alex Moss
19 MAY 2017 • 10:48AM
Michael van Gerwen survived six missed match darts from Peter Wright to retain the Betway Premier League title at The O2 in London last night.
World number three Wright was on the brink of winning the title in his first appearance in the Premier League play-offs, as he followed up a thrilling 10-9 win over Phil Taylor in the semi-finals to lead van Gerwen 10-9 in the final.
But the Scot spurned six match darts at double 16 and eight in the next leg, which allowed his rival to level and force a decider.
Van Gerwen began the final leg with a ninth 180 of the final and checked out 88 on double four for a 12-dart winning leg to clinch the title.
The comeback victory earned van Gerwen a tournament record £250,000 first prize, as well as a £25,000 league leader’s bonus after topping the regular season’s league table for a fifth straight year, and saw him win a third Premier League title.
The Dutchman had begun the night with a 10-7 win against Gary Anderson in the semi-finals, while Wright ended Taylor’s hopes of winning a seventh Premier League title in his final appearance in the event.
Wright carried that momentum into the final as he took leads of 3-0 and 5-1, before firing in legs of 11 and 14 darts to open up a commanding 7-2 advantage.
Van Gerwen fought back with an 11-darter helping him to eventually level the match up at 8-8.
Wright took the 17th leg with an 84 checkout, before a 96 finish moved him 10-9 up and within touching distance of the title.
The UK Open champion then kicked off the 20th leg with scores of 140, 180 and 149 to leave 32 after just nine darts, but crucially missed a dart at double 16 and five darts at double eight for glory.
Van Gerwen landed double 10 to force an unlikely deciding leg, which he started with a 180 and then took out 88 for a 12-darter to complete a thrilling comeback.
“It’s a fantastic moment for me,” van Gerwen said. “I think that was a great final and I’m really glad I can walk away with this trophy again.
“I missed a few chances and Peter finished well, he did what he had to do but after the break I played really well and I had a great comeback.
“Peter started playing well again and I don’t know how he missed six darts for the match. A player of his quality normally hits the double, but for some reason he missed them. This was a really crazy game.
“Peter was really close today but I kept myself relaxed and stepped in at the right moment. It’s been great, absolutely fantastic.”
Wright took home £120,000 as the runner-up, having fallen agonisingly short of winning his second televised title, following March’s success in the UK Open.
“Well done to the champion, fair play to Michael,” he said. “It’s been a good season, the top two players finished one and two.
“By the end of tonight that’s gone, and Michael will know I’ve let him off.
“I can’t believe I missed so many darts at a double. You can’t have five darts at a double to beat the number one in the world and double world champion, and it’s something I’ve got to learn.
“I’ll go back to the practice board and then get him next time. At the moment I think I should have won, but that’s gone and I’ll start to think about the next tournament.
“You’ve got to learn to lose before you win, and I’m not going to lose any more – the wins are coming.”
Taylor’s semi-final defeat was his last of 207 Premier League appearances since he led the inception of the event in 2005, with his wins in the first four years followed by further titles in 2010 and 2012.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on a final title, Taylor said: “I’m fine – I had my chances and didn’t take them.
“The crowd gave me so much inspiration, and it was just a couple of shots that I missed, that’s all.
“I went in front and then went nervous – I could feel my heart beating – maybe because it’s my last one. Peter was the better player, I can’t fault him, he held his bottle and hit the right shot at the right time.”
Betway Premier League Play-Offs
Thursday May 18, The O2, London
Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Gary Anderson
Peter Wright 10-9 Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen 11-10 Peter Wright