Gary Anderson wins Darts World Matchplay title to seal triple crown
For the first time, Anderson reigns supreme in Blackpool at the historic Winter Gardens to join a rare group of players that have won the three major titles in darts. Is was a gigantic battle with Mensur Suljovic and one of the all-time Matchplay greats but The Scotsman eventually came through 21-19 to lift the trophy.
Following Michael Van Gerwen's first round exit, Anderson has been the favourite to lift the trophy and the odds were stacked in his favour heading into Sunday night’s showdown against the Austrian.
The first few sessions were even with neither man holding more than a one leg lead. However, it was Suljovic who looked set to cause an upset halfway through leading 9-7 in the race to 18.
It was then the pressure started to show as Suljovic continued to dominate in the scoring department, the area you would have expected Anderson to control. However, his finishing let him down and his usual favourite double 14 was eluding him. Anderson reeled off seven out of 8 legs to lead 14-10 and seemed on course for the trophy.
However, with defeat on the cards, Suljovic fought back as he stepped up his game. Despite this, Anderson led 17-13 just one leg away from the win. Then, roles reversed with Anderson missing chances with the pressure getting to one of the greats of the sport. Twice he threw for the match but couldn’t convert.
With the game needing to be won by two legs the match continued with the scoring of the highest standard. Both players threw 14 180s and averaged over 100 an incredible feat giving the format and the stage.
The match became the longest ever final at the Winter Gardens and looked set to go to a decider which Suljovic would have thrown first. Yet, this topsy-turvy tournament had one final twist. Anderson broke again and this time at the fourth time of asking was able to hold to take the title on double 10.
Suljovic personality shone through, gracious and happy as ever in defeat as the two embraced. For him, it has also been an incredible week. His rise to the very top of the game has been incredible as he continues to define the odds and his display shows he is likely to only get better.
Anderson though will take all the plaudits and rightfully so. The pressure on him has been huge since MVG's demise and he has taken it in his stride.
Since winning his second world title in 2016 his success in the other majors has been limited, this year's UK Open being the only exception, but he can finally add the newly named Phil Taylor trophy to his collection.
He has had some major scares along the way. In his opening match against Stephen Bunting, he always looked in control as he won 10-7 but he has been lucky to survive.
In his second round match, he was in real trouble on a number of occasions against Raymond Van Barneveld including trailing 4-1 early on but he came back and stepped it up in the second half of the match to win 11-9.
However, his toughest test came against Cullen in Thursday night’s quarter as he was pushed all the way by the 29-year-old. Despite Cullen having two match darts, he survived and showed his experience and bottle when he most needed it to seal the victory.
His semi-final victory over Jeffrey De Zwaan was another high-quality encounter. Again, though when under pressure he was able to produce another level of darts no one could handle.
He certainly had a tough route to the trophy and was forced into playing some world-class darts along the way.
A deserved winner, simply glory glory Gary Anderson.