Template - Date: van Gerwen edges Barney in Masters
The Dutchman has reigned supreme in the battle of the PDC’s top 16 players for the past three years, but saw his mantle come under serious threat as the five-time World Champion lined up his first individual TV title since 2015.
Van Barneveld followed up his wins over Dave Chisnall, Peter Wright and Mensur Suljovic earlier in the tournament by racing into an early 4-1 lead in the final. The pair shared the opening two legs before Van Barneveld finished 72, 76 to break and a 13-darter as he opened up a 4-1 cushion at the final’s first interval.
2018 Unibet Masters
Sunday January 28th
Peter Wright 2-10 Raymond van Barneveld
Mensur Suljovic 10-7 Rob Cross
Gerwyn Price 6-10 Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen 10-2 James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld 11-7 Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen 11-5 Gary Anderson
Raymond van Barneveld 9-11 Michael van Gerwen
That lead was extended to 5-2 before Van Gerwen hit back to level, hitting two 177 scores in an 11-darter to break throw before a 137 finish for a 12-dart leg saw the reigning champion square the contest. Three more legs for Van Barneveld gave him an 8-5 advantage, only for Van Gerwen to hit top gear as he fought to hold onto his title.
A 124 bull finish saw the world number one level in leg 16, before a 12-darter moved him ahead for the first time at 9-8, and though Van Barneveld battled to stay in the game, an 81 finish for a 12-darter saw Van Gerwen seal his fourth straight Masters title.
“I think this is the perfect start to the year,” said Van Gerwen. “I played a good tournament and hit some big averages against some great players. “Everyone wants a good start to the year and I’ve started well.
“Raymond had a phenomenal tournament, he played well in the final and he didn’t give a lot away. When you give him a finger he takes your hand, but I’m glad that I fought back. “I’m trying my best all the time and I want to win every tournament that I play in, so I’m really glad that I can take this trophy home.”
Van Gerwen had lost his World Championship title with an agonising semi-final loss to Rob Cross a month ago, and the Dutchman was delighted to make a winning return to action. Van Gerwen had earlier defeated James Wade 10-2 in the quarter-finals after storming into an 8-0 lead without giving the 2014 champion a dart at a double, while he was an 11-5 winner over Gary Anderson in their semi-final.
Van Barneveld had opened the quarter-finals with a brilliant 10-2 rout of world number two Peter Wright before he battled past Mensur Suljovic 11-7 to set up a repeat of the 2015 Masters final. The Dutch duo had also teamed up to win the World Cup of Darts last summer, but Van Barneveld had to settle for the £25,000 runner-up prize this time after losing out to his rival.
“I’m really happy to reach the final,” said the 50-year-old. “It’s good to be in the final, and that has given me confidence. “I had a hard game against Dave on Friday and today was a really long day for me. I played really well against Peter Wright but against Mensur I never felt great, and the final was alright.
Anderson had seen off Welshman Gerwyn Price 10-6 in their quarter-final, while World Champion Rob Cross suffered defeat for the first time since his Alexandra Palace triumph as he lost out 10-8 to Suljovic. Following the conclusion of the £200,000 ITV4-televised event at Arena MK in Milton Keynes, the focus now moves to Thursday’s opening night of the 2018 Unibet Premier League at the 3Arena in Dublin.