|Image: Daily Mail|
He clinched his first ever Grand Slam Of Darts in Wolverhampton on Sunday night, his 12th major title and perhaps most operatically dramatic title in front of a raucous, packed-out Civic Hall. Trailing by four legs at one point, averaging about 90, The Green Machine eventually shrugged off his arch-nemesis, Phil Taylor in magisterial style, defeating Taylor 16-13.
From the start this was a final of relentlessly high-wire tungsten, an adrenal exchange of high-velocity scoring—Taylor, who appeared to be capable of sweeping away van Gerwen with his early momentum, will be accused of having choked horribly here. But if we're honest, this was about Michael van Gerwen reasserting his venerable qualities of era-domination in the face of the older generation.
This was the final all Darts fans probably hoped for, the sport's greatest ever player against the tungsten tip. If Taylor remains enshrined as some kind of darting Elvis, for van Gerwen this was an opportunity to confirm what has vibrant talent has already suggested—that he has already flowered into a genuinely dominant force. And that he did. Emphatically.
While van Gerwen is human, I can assure you that, the evidence of the past ten months suggests there is a shortage of reliable kryptonite on the Oche.
He will not be reduced to the Oche until health problems; weariness; or an inspired challenge from the other Galacticos make it sure. However, the collective heat of Taylor, Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis, Peter Wright and Dave Chisnall—all except Taylor beaten badly in the Grand Slam, all struggling for their best game as they prepare for the Worlds—has dimmed alarmingly.
Most players bring their best tungsten to the Alexandra Palace every year, but on his current form, MvG would start as favorite against anyone.
When they bid for the Players Championship at the end of the month, van Gerwen will be the marker. If the trailing pack cannot defeat the Dutch juggernaut in this final Tour event before the best darting event on the calendar, their chances at the Alexandra Palace in December will hardly be any better because Gerwen's thriving on his dominance, not intimidated by it, and he has that buzzword of sport driving his name: momentum.
Near the start of his phenomenal run, as he whitewashed James Wade 7-0 in the Premier League, van Gerwen reached a peak not many players experience. None of his contemporaries could have defeated him that night, nor Taylor at his smooth best, nor Gary Anderson with his breathtaking tungsten—and not poor James Wade, who didn't play badly himself, but halted at the Oche to see the Dutchman producing the sort of Darts that is his own speciality, except on a much higher level.
His ability to find his edge so quickly, score relentlessly and take so many of those blink-and-you're-gone legs or sets, frustrates opponents and forces them to change their game-plan.
He just emanates the aura of invincibility and intimidation. Opponents who flounder in his presence seek to demystify his aura. It seems as if he's an alien in both image and the ability to throw Darts.