Michael van Gerwen won through to the final of the Ladbrokes World Championship after a terrific triumph over James Wade, which saw the Dutch sensation hit a stunning nine-dart finish on Sunday evening.
And van Gerwen almost created history as he threw 17 perfect darts, leaving himself in with a chance of completing the unprecedented feat of acheiving back to back perfect legs, but just missed double twelve.
‘Mighty Mike’ actually lost that incredible fifth set but went on to seal an impressive 6-4 victory to move into the final of the £1 million tournament at London’s Alexandra Palace for the first time in his career.
“It means a lot to me to be one game away from getting my hands on that trophy,” said van Gerwen, who won his first major PDC title at the World Grand Prix in October.
“It would have been brilliant to hit two nine-darters but it wasn’t about that. It was about winning the match.
“It was a fantastic game for me and it is always hard to beat a player of James’ quality.
“The more big games I win, the more confidence I get and I hope to play well again in the final.
“I am playing great at the moment but there is still one more huge step to take.”
van Gerwen hit four 180s in the opening set but was punished for eleven missed darts at doubles by some clinical finishing from Wade, who edged the set 3-2.
‘Mighty Mike’ then went on the rampage, however, posting finishes of 104, 96 and 40 to level the match.
A neat 90 checkout on the bull, followed by a 78 out shot and his sixth maximum saw van Gerwen take the third set 3-0.
And the Dutch star completed a run of winning nine consecutive legs as he took the fourth set to move into a 3-1 lead.
Wade took the first two legs of set five, pinning double ten before taking out 82 but van Gerwen hit back in sensational style.
He followed his seventh 180 with a 177 before brilliantly finishing the remaining 144 for a show-stopping nine dart finish.
But not satisfied with just one magical leg, the 23-year-old hit a further two 180s before just missing the final link in the 141 combination as he was the width of the double twelve wire away from creating history with two consecutive perfect legs.
Wade showed amazing bottle to win the set, however, producing a fabulous 120 checkout to reduce van Gerwen’s lead to 3-2.
And ‘The Machine’ restored parity as he took three consecutive legs to win the sixth set.
‘Mighty Mike’ won the next set 3-1 to edge back in front, pegging tops after Wade had missed the same double to level the set.
van Gerwen hit 180’s in each of the next two legs, bedding double twenty on both occasions to move into a two leg lead in the eighth set.
But Wade pinned double ten to halve the deficit before his first 180 helped to pull him level.
The Dutchman still moved into a five sets to three lead, though, as he nailed double top to move a set away from a place in the final.
Wade edged ahead in the ninth set before van Gerwen again went off with back to back 180s as he squared up the set at one leg each.
‘The Machine’ pegged double ten to move infront but van Gerwen levelled again with a lovely 84 finish.
But it was ‘The Machine’ who won the set, producing a fantastic 70 checkout to keep the match alive.
van Gerwen sealed the victory by taking all three legs in the final set, as he upped his 180 count to 14 before bedding double eight for the match.
He will now face Phil Taylor or Raymond van Barneveld on new years day for the £200,000 first prize, new Sid Waddell trophy and the title of World Champion.
By Chris Murphy
Image courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC