Despite Taylor, Lewis, Wade and Gary Anderson all pulling out, there was still an impressive field to compete for the 2015 European Darts Matchplay title in Innsbruck last weekend.
Day One – Barney’s Revenge
The opening day saw revenge for Raymond van Barneveld from last week in Mulheim, doing more than enough to beat the German youngster Max Hopp 6-3. Hopp had taken out Barney 6-4 in the first round of the European Darts Trophy. It was significant progress for Barney as he bids to be present at the forthcoming World Grand Prix.
Elsewhere there were impressive wins for youth players, David Pallett, Rowby-John Rodriguez and William O’Connor. Pallett beat Jamie Caven 6-2 in an assured display, hitting six 180’s and averaging over 100. Rowby-John seems to love the European tournaments, and he embraced the Austrian crowd in this one, winning 6-3 in the opening match of the tournament.
William O’Connor, who as it currently stands will be playing in front of his home crowd in Dublin in a fortnight, in the World Grand Prix, notched an impressive 6-4 win over Gerwyn Price. O’Connor is definitely a name to watch in the future, and if he keeps improving like he is, will be a fixture in the World’s top 32 for many years to come.
Day Two – Smith Stumbles
Day Two was an interesting day to say the least. Michael van Gerwen won comfortably against Ronny Huybrechts, van Barneveld beat Bunting 6-2, Terry Jenkins came through in a last leg decider to beat Kevin Painter 6-5, and last weeks champion Michael Smith couldn’t celebrate his birthday weekend with another good run, losing to Alan Norris 6-5 in an absolute roller-coaster of a match.
Smith went 4-0 up and seemed to be cruising, then, from absolutely nowhere Norris produced darts he hasn’t shown in the PDC up till now, and managed to win the next 5 legs to be throwing for the match at 5-4! Smith, broke the Norris throw in the tenth leg, but was unable to hold his own throw in the last leg decider.
This is concerning for Smith on two fronts: at 4-0 up his finishing vanished and also because he wanted to build on the excellent platform he built for himself in Mulheim. Not quite back to the drawing board for the St Helens man, as I’m sure his focus will now be on the World Grand Prix and making serious in-roads into that tournament.
Day Three – Mighty Mike Triumphs Again
The final day of the tournament went very much according to plan for the Dutch ace, van Gerwen. He crushed Barney 6-1 in his afternoon game, and booked an evening session with Rowby-John Rodriguez, who beat Mervyn King and Simon Whitlock en route and was pumped full of confidence in front of his home crowd.
MVG managed to subdue the young upstart, beating him 6-3, but not without Rodriguez playing some excellent darts, and it was only that van Gerwen averaged a frankly absurd 114 that he beat him. van Gerwen then completed a routine 6-1 win over Thornton and was a short price to be the champion in the final.
On the other side of the draw, the main story was David Pallett. He beat former BDO world champion Jelle Klaasen in the 2nd round on Saturday, and beat Kim Huybrechts and Alan Norris in the third round and the quarter-finals respectively to set up a semi-final with Dave Chisnall, in his best PDC tournament performance to date.
Pallett lost to Chisnall 6-3, but with his power scoring, Pallett is sure to be progressing high up the PDC ranks in the coming months.
Chisnall won the bull to throw first in the final, and it went with throw until the 9th leg of the match, when a single break of throw allowed MVG to win the match 6-4. So van Gerwen continued his outstanding run over Chisnall, who has now lost 12 out of the last 13 matches against the Green Machine and seems to have a real issue getting over the winning line against the world Number One. This run to the final did lift him above Ian White in the PDC Order of Merit though.
van Gerwen has now won five-out-of-eight European Tour events in 2015 and I’ll leave you with one final, quite staggering statistic – in 2015, Michael van Gerwen hasn’t played in five consecutive tournaments where he hasn’t one at least one of them! A mark of how dominant MVG has been this year, and how dominant he could be for years to come.