Michael van Gerwen shared a draw with Phil Taylor in a thrilling McCoy’s Premier League opening night encounter in Belfast.
van Gerwen almost sealed a dream debut in front of an 8,000 strong crowd at the Odyssey Arena, but was made to pay for missing five match darts.
‘Mighty Mike’ led 3-1 and 6-4 before 16-time and reigning World Champion Taylor fought back to take a point.
“I was disappointed not to win because I had the chances to do that,” admitted van Gerwen, who was runner-up to Taylor at the World Championships.
“A draw with Phil Taylor is not a bad result for my first Premier League night though.
“I really enjoyed it. The crowd were fantastic and I know I am going to love this tournament.
“I didn’t lose so I’m positive and it is a long competition. Hopefully I have another 14 weeks to go and we will see what I can do.”
Taylor began the match with back to back 180s and went on to win the first leg.
van Gerwen hit back by taking the next three legs but ‘The Power’ won the next two to level up proceedings.
The Dutchman moved back ahead with the help of his third 180 before restoring a two leg advantage.
Taylor finished 70 to pull a leg back but ‘Mighty Mike’ guaranteed himself at least a draw when he bedded double 16.
The 23-year-old then went off with back to back 180s himself but missed five darts to seal win.
And Taylor capitalised to ensure both players would leave Belfast with a point.
van Gerwen takes on Robert Thornton in Aberdeen next Thursday.
By Chris Murphy