Wayne Mardle has hailed Michael van Gerwen as ‘one of life’s winners’ after the Dutchman secured his fifth Premier League title at The O2 on Thursday night.
Van Gerwen followed up his semi-final victory over Daryl Gurney by recording a convincing 11-5 victory over ‘Voltage’ to claim a fourth consecutive Premier League crown, reaffirming his dominance in this competition.
The Dutchman has now appeared in every single Premier League final since his debut in 2013 and Mardle was full of praise for MVG, claiming that the sport was ‘lucky to have him’.
“You just expect him to achieve all the time. He’s a special talent and the sport’s lucky to have him,” Mardle told Sky Sports’ Dave Clark.
“When he had that chance to win it, he wants 130 – pop, pop, pop he gets it. He puts things away, he knows how to win and what he does do better than anyone else on the planet – he seizes his opportunities where maybe there isn’t one.
“He creates one and he gets it done. A lot of players will get there and somehow stumble over the line. He’s not a stumbler, that man’s a finisher.
“After Phil Taylor, we probably thought we’d never see the like again. He’s a champion of the people as well,” he added.
Van Gerwen raced into a 5-1 lead in the final, but Cross fired back with legs of 13, 12 and 14 darts to reduce the arrears to 5-4, only to squander three clear darts at double in leg 10, which would have levelled proceedings.
The World No 1 capitalised with a clinical 74 kill to restore his cushion, before he won five of the remaining six legs to prevail with a 103.36 average.
Mardle’s fellow Sky Sports pundit Mark Webster, who featured in the 2011 Premier League, believes the tenth leg proved to be all-important in the final reckoning.
Van Gerwen’s PL Record
“If you go in at 5-5 it’s a different game at the break, but I think that finish in the corner [MVG’s 74] knocked the last bit of belief Rob had out of him,” said Webster.
“Michael just did what he did and ran away with the game. It’s what Michael does. He’s probably had a bit of a topsy-turvy Premier League campaign but he still came out on top.”
Van Gerwen wasn’t at his blistering best for large parts of this year’s roadshow, but he topped the league phase for the seventh consecutive season after pipping Cross in the final week of league action.
Webster claimed Van Gerwen’s ability to come through despite being below-par is the mark of a true champion, but warned his rivals must raise their game to compete with the world champion.
“Without being disrespectful [he will dominate] as long as he wants to if he’s going to remain dedicated,” added the Welshman.
“That first game was a bit scrappy tonight, it was a poor performance from Michael, but he won the game relatively comfortably in the end.
“It’s a mark of a true champion, when things aren’t happening for you, he’s suffered a few defeats in this campaign but he still ended up winning the title.
“He’s a tough man to beat. Rob Cross is his nearest rival and couldn’t really get near him there, so the other players have got to step up.”
The former Lakeside world champion also hailed Van Gerwen as a great ambassador for the sport, insisting that he deserved every bit of his success.
“He deserves to enjoy these moments and he’s going to get a lot more of them because he’s streets ahead of the rest at the minute
Mark Webster on MVG
“As well as being a true champion, he promotes the sport very well. He’s a great ambassador for the PDC and for Darts around the world.
“He deserves to enjoy these moments and he’s going to get a lot more of them because he’s streets ahead of the rest at the minute and the rest of the guys have to step up,” added Webster.
Van Gerwen is quite simply a winning machine and the next major within his sights is the World Cup of Darts, which takes place in Hamburg in a fortnight’s time.
‘Mighty Mike’ will be looking to clinch a fifth World Cup of Darts title for the Netherlands – his fourth, although the 30-year-old will be paired with debutant Jermaine Wattimena, who replaces Raymond van Barneveld.
The Dutch duo are seeded fourth in Germany and are projected to take on top seeds England in the semi-finals, but Mardle believes MVG will be up for the challenge.
“He’s going to play with someone different, who knows what that holds,” Mardle continued.
“It’s going to be more difficult for him, but he’s ready for any kind of challenge that is on the dart board.
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