VAN GERWEN BATTLES TO FIFTH LADBROKES PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS TITLE
Michael van Gerwen won the Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals title for a fifth time with a brilliant 11-9 win over Gerwyn Price in a sensational final.
World Champion Van Gerwen had been defeated by Price in the semi-finals of the Grand Slam of Darts a week ago, with the sport's top two current form players meeting again this time in the decider.
Price went within touching distance of claiming a second successive televised title as he sought to follow up his Grand Slam victory with glory at the Butlin's Minehead Resort, edging into an 8-7 lead in the final.
However, Van Gerwen found one last push to claim the £100,000 title and erase the memories of his loss in last year's final to Daryl Gurney.
"It feels really good," said Van Gerwen. "I think I deserved it and I was the better player in the final, but even though we didn't produce our A-game I think it was a great game to watch.
"I missed a few doubles that kept him in the game but I think this final had everything.
"I think Gerwyn is good for darts. He's exciting and he's a good player and he has done well lately. He deserves every credit and it will be a great rivalry - but today was my day."
Van Gerwen had landed a nine-darter against Adrian Lewis on Saturday and then overcame Mervyn King in the quarter-finals and Ian White in the semi-finals, seeing off the Stoke ace with an 11-8 victory.
"Everyone played well against me this weekend and I had to do everything in my possibilities to win these games," added Van Gerwen. "I'm very happy that I did that and I think I did well this weekend.
"I will look now towards the World Championship and it will be my goal to keep hold of that title too, but that's a couple of weeks away so I will enjoy this win first."
Price had followed up a clinical quarter-final win over Stephen Bunting - where he averaged almost 109 in a 10-3 victory - by coming from 4-1 down to defeat Chris Dobey 11-8 in the last four.
Despite coming from two legs behind to move 8-7 up against Van Gerwen, the Welshman was left to rue the Dutchman's late blitz as he was forced to settle for the £50,000 runner-up prize.
"Michael was the better player tonight," admitted Price. "I've got no complaints, and the opening leg probably set the tone for the match.
"I battled back to get in front but Michael was too strong in the end. I've had another great weekend and the crowd were fantastic, they gave me great support."
White produced two 180s in a brilliant deciding leg as he edged out William O'Connor 10-9 to reach his first televised ranking semi-final, finally ending his unwanted run of last eight defeats.
"I just needed to get over that line and I've done it now," said White. "I was so happy because everyone kept talking about being in quarter-finals, and hopefully I can progress now.
"Michael Smith and myself have been putting a lot of hard work in and it's paying off."
Dobey, meanwhile, followed up October's appearance in the last four at the World Grand Prix with another strong showing as he picked up a memorable 10-2 quarter-final win over Raymond van Barneveld.
Van Barneveld now progresses to his final tournament before retirement at next month's World Championship, having enjoyed wins over Nathan Aspinall, Joe Cullen and Glen Durrant earlier in the weekend in Minehead.
"For three games I played well and it looked so great but this was a different day and it wasn't my game," said Van Barneveld. "I never felt comfortable and every throw it was like three guys hanging on my arm."