MICHAEL VAN GERWEN clinched a 13th European Tour title with a 6-5 victory over Mensur Suljovic in a thrilling final at the HappyBet European Darts Trophy at the RWE Arena in Muelheim, Germany.
Suljovic, playing in his second consecutive final after winning the International Darts Open in Riesa, Germany, last weekend (September 4), looked to have the beating of van Gerwen until the world number one produced some breath-taking darts to snatch it in a last leg decider.
Having shared the opening two legs, an early break in the third looked to put van Gerwen in the driving seat.
He was pegged back immediately by Suljovic, however, who then won the next two legs - including a match-high 84 checkout for another break of throw and a 4-2 lead.
27-year-old van Gerwen dug deep with back-to-back 13-darters to level things up at 4-4, but still required a break to clinch the title.
Suljovic moved onto the brink of victory at 5-4, but it was here that the Dutchman produced his best darts, with a 12-dart hold followed by an 11-dart break of throw in the decisive leg to snatch the victory with a 106.77 average.
On his way to the final, van Gerwen produced a similar feat in the semi’s as he overcame Belgium's Kim Huybrechts by the same score line.
The former World Champion was the aggressor this time over, and was leading 5-4 with the throw, only to see Huybrechts produce a stunning 103 checkout under pressure to level and swing the game back in his favour.
But van Gerwen again found a last leg break in the decider to squeeze through to set up the clash with Suljovic.
The game of the day arguably came in van Gerwen’s 6-2 quarter-final clash with Jelle Klaasen however, as he averaged a tournament record 115.13 average in a 6-2 victory.
Klaasen was no slouch, and could otherwise count himself unlucky as he averaged 107 – his third ton-plus average in succession - in a frantic affair that saw eight legs wrapped up in just 10 minutes 17 seconds.
Van Gerwen also beat Keegan Brown the second round and Simon Whitlock in the third on his way to the title.
It was another superb week for Suljovic on the Oche as he made his second consecutive PDC final.
Having whitewashed Vincent Kamphuis in his opening game, he then registered a comfortable 6-3 win over Ian White to reach the Quarter-Finals.
There he faced Peter Wright, a man he had failed to beat in all of their previous four meetings, but handled the task with aplomb as he raced to a 6-1 victory.
Standing in his way of a place in the last two was James Wade, but again Suljovic was measured in his approach and consistent doubling (60%), coupled with a 100 average saw him make it back-to-back finals with a 6-3 victory – before falling to van Gerwen’s brilliance.
It was another good weekend for Huybrechts also. After losing out to Suljovic in the final at the International Darts Open a week ago, the fourth seed got off to a magnificent start with a whitewash of the in-form Kyle Anderson on day two.
He then narrowly squeezed past Terry Jenkins 6-5, a player he had beaten just twice previously in his career, before beating Gerwyn Price - playing in his first European Tour quarter-final of the year - to set up his semi-final clash with winner van Gerwen.
Defending champion Michael Smith will perhaps be disappointed with his efforts on the final day. A 6-0 whitewash of young Belgian Dimitri Van den Bergh on day two in his opening match of the competition got him off to the perfect start, before beating three-time major winner Robert Thornton in the third round.
But he saw his grip on the title slip away as he was edged out by Wade in a last-leg thriller.
The European Tour continues with the penultimate event on September 16-18 with the HappyBet European Darts Grand Prix in Sindelfingen, Germany, as Huybrechts looks to retain his title.