Van Gerwen wins Cullen classic to lift sixth Premier League title
Michael van Gerwen edged out Joe Cullen in an epic final to clinch his sixth Cazoo Premier League title on an incredible night of action at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin on Monday.
Van Gerwen denied a heartbroken Cullen 11-10 in one of the greatest games to ever grace the Premier League stage, after the debutant missed a match dart at double 16 in a thrilling decider.
However, the Dutchman kept his cool to fire in a 13-darter and equal Phil Taylor's haul of six Premier League titles, as he celebrates victory in a first PDC Premier event for over 18 months.
"I have been going through a really tough time, so to win this title means a lot to me," reflected an emotional Van Gerwen, who eased past James Wade 10-4 in the semi-finals.
"I'm a happy man. Joe Cullen was phenomenal in that final. What a day. I'm over the moon.
"Of course I am going for more titles now. To have won this trophy here in Berlin is amazing.
"This last 18 months has hurt me. I know what I'm capable of, but this crowd in Germany today, they were absolutely sensational. I think they were a credit to the sport."
Cullen drew first blood in the final with a sublime 11-dart hold, but after spurning three darts to break in leg two, he saw Van Gerwen seize the early initiative with a sequence of three straight legs.
The Yorkshireman responded with back-to-back legs to restore parity, only for Van Gerwen to restore his two-leg buffer at 5-3 courtesy of a 12-dart break.
Cullen reduced the arrears with a spectacular 141 finish in leg nine, and a clinical 114 checkout in leg 11 sparked a run of three straight legs for the Masters champion, who edged 7-6 ahead.
The next five legs went with throw, before Van Gerwen appeared to strike the decisive blow in leg 19, converting a sensational 92 kill to break throw in 12 darts and move one leg away from glory.
The drama continued as Cullen broke straight back in 13 darts to force a decider, but it was the Dutchman who claimed the spoils via double 14, having survived a match dart in the previous visit.
"Michael is a fantastic player and a fantastic champion, but I am absolutely gutted," admitted Cullen, who was bidding to become the third successive debutant to be crowned Premier League champion.
"I cannot believe I've lost, but credit to Michael, he is a great guy and a wonderful champion.
"I think the second leg cost me, missing three at 32 for a break of throw. I'm absolutely devastated."
Earlier in the evening, Cullen produced an astonishing display of power scoring to thwart Jonny Clayton's bid for back-to-back Premier League titles.
Cullen stormed into a remarkable 6-0 lead against the reigning champion before closing out a resounding 10-4 victory, averaging almost 101 and crashing in 11 maximums - equalling the tournament record for 180s in a match.
In the second semi-final, Van Gerwen defeated 2009 champion Wade by the same scoreline to book his place in a record-equalling eighth Premier League showpiece.
The opening six legs of the last four contest were shared, but a blistering burst from Van Gerwen saw him win seven of the last eight to pull away from Wade and triumph with a 99 average and six 180s.
Van Gerwen - who now returns to the Netherlands for surgery on an arm injury - pockets 305,000 pound in total from the Premier League season, with three nightly wins earning him a 30,000 pound bonus in addition to the 275,000 pound top prize.
Cullen, meanwhile, claimed 125,000pound as runner-up and took home a further 20,000 pound in bonus prize money.
Table-topper Clayton's four night wins during the season boosted his 85,000 pound prize money to a total of 125,000 pound, while Wade earned 105,000 pound following his strong season.