Michael van Gerwen produced an inspired display to defeat Gerwyn Price 11-5 and secure a record-breaking seventh Cazoo Premier League title at The O2 in London on Thursday.
The Dutchman created another slice of history on a high-quality night of action in the capital, defeating World Champion Michael Smith and table-topper Price to retain the coveted title.
Van Gerwen lifted his maiden Premier League crown at The O2 a decade ago, and his demolition of Price in Thursday’s showpiece saw him overhaul Phil Taylor’s tally of six Premier League titles.
“It feels amazing,” admitted Van Gerwen, who averaged 105 and converted three ton-plus finishes to scoop the £275,000 top prize.
“We all know Gerwyn Price is in fantastic form. Michael Smith had won three of the last four weeks and I had been questioned about my form, and today it motivated me.
“You always have to peak at the right moments, and when you’re at The O2 competing against Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price, you have to perform at your A-game.
“I think I played some fantastic darts today, and what more can I wish for, to win this trophy for a seventh time.
“I had to produce something special and I’m really glad I did. Everyone knows I had [injury] problems last week, and I worked really hard for this.
“I’m not done yet. I love what I do, and there’s more to come.”
The opening five legs of Thursday’s decider went with throw, but Van Gerwen struck the first decisive blow in leg six, producing a magnificent 170 checkout to move into a 4-2 lead.
The Dutch superstar refused to relent as he extended his advantage to 7-2, following up a 13-dart hold with an effortless 128 finish to continue his charge towards the title.
Price stopped the rot in sensational style, conjuring up a brilliant 161 on the bull before reducing the deficit to 4-7 after Van Gerwen uncharacteristically squandered four darts at a double.
However, Van Gerwen restored his five-leg buffer after Price missed double 12 for 144 and 98 checkouts, and a spectacular 150 checkout moved the reigning champion to the brink of victory.
Price had the opportunity to extend the contest in leg 16, but the Welshman paid the price for missing two darts at tops and tens, and Van Gerwen duly capitalised to cap off a dominant performance.
“I couldn’t find anything, but that’s how it goes sometimes,” reflected Price, who was featuring in his maiden Premier League final.
“I felt like this is one that got away, because I’m playing some of the best darts I’ve ever played.
“I was missing some targets by such a long way, I wasn’t even close. I’m not sure what happened, but congratulations to Michael.”
Earlier in the night, Price averaged over 107 to dispatch his World Cup partner Jonny Clayton, converting a stunning 131 checkout to wrap up an emphatic 10-2 victory.
Table-topper Price kicked off Thursday’s action with an 11-dart hold, racing into a 5-0 lead before 2021 champion Clayton opened his account in leg six.
Price then extended his cushion with a three-leg burst of 12, 14 and 11-dart legs, before capping off an imperious display with a sensational 131 finish, culminating with a brace of double 20s.
In the second semi-final, Van Gerwen defied a late rally from Smith to progress to a record-breaking ninth Premier League final, averaging 101 to celebrate a dramatic 10-8 success.
Smith drew first blood with a superb 128 checkout, but a ruthless five-leg spell from Van Gerwen propelled the Dutchman into a 6-2 lead.
The World Champion responded with 114, 86, 91 and 123 combinations in the latter stages, but Van Gerwen’s superior scoring power saw him progress to a record-breaking ninth Premier League final.
Van Gerwen - who now sets his sights on US Darts Masters glory in New York next week – pockets £305,000 in total from this year’s Premier League, with three nightly wins earning him a £30,000 bonus in addition to the £275,000 top prize.
Price, meanwhile, claimed £125,000 as runner-up, and also walks away with a further £40,000 in bonus prize money, having remarkably featured in ten finals across the 17 nights.
Smith’s four nightly wins during the season boosted his £85,000 prize money to a total of £125,000, while Clayton earned £105,000 after featuring in the Play-Offs for a third consecutive campaign.
Images courtesy of PDC
2023 Cazoo Premier League Play-Offs
Thursday May 25
The O2, London
Gerwyn Price 10-2 Jonny Clayton
Michael van Gerwen 10-8 Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen 11-5 Gerwyn Price