Michael van Gerwen wins third PDC world championship darts title
Number one seed Michael van Gerwen held off England's Michael Smith to win a third PDC World Championship title with a 7-3 victory at Alexandra Palace.
The Dutchman, 29, raced into a 4-0 lead before 10th seed Smith whipped the home crowd into a frenzy by winning five successive legs to make it 4-2.
After Van Gerwen silenced the crowd in the seventh, Smith missed two crucial set-winning checkouts in the eighth.
The champion was not at his best but banked a winners' cheque of £500,000.
Victory takes Van Gerwen, who also won in 2014 and 2017, to second in the list of PDC World Championship title wins, but he is way off the record of 14 victories set by the retired Phil Taylor.
Smith, who was appearing in his first final and whose previous best was the last eight in 2016, paid for a nervous start and failed to make Van Gerwen pay when the Dutchman faltered.
That was no more evident in the eighth set when 28-year-old Smith, who will marry his fiance this Saturday, missed a double five that could have added pressure to his opponent.
Smith did not buckle as he dragged it back to 6-3, but Van Gerwen finally shook off the dogged Englishman from St Helens.
'Maybe I tried too much' - Smith
Van Gerwen's three-dart average in the final was 102.21, which was down on his 103.28 for the tournament, but his 14 maximums and greater experience told in the crucial moments.
"I was a little bit nervous but my body was pumping and I wanted to play better - but Michael is a phenomenal player," Van Gerwen told Sky Sports. "It was a difficult match, but it doesn't matter how you win.
"He always makes it hard for me, he is a good player and one day he will lift this trophy."
Smith, who earned £200,000 as a runner-up, failed to rouse the crowd early on - leading to a downbeat atmosphere inside Alexandra Palace in London.
But when Smith began to show some consistency midway through the contest, the spectators sensed a potential comeback was on.
The only shame for them was that it did not last long and despite Smith saving two match-winning darts as he reduced the deficit to 6-3, Van Gerwen held the greater nerve in the end.
"I didn't get going," said Smith. "I had the chances, and I was more annoyed myself for losing those chances.
"I kept looking at the trophy and thinking it belongs to me, so I maybe I tried too much.
"It's my first final but it won't be my last - I will lift that trophy.
"If Michael was going to win he was going to have to work for it. I was following up his scores then he dropped off and I did too. I'm sorry I didn't put on a show."
Van Barneveld among 10 Premier League players
After the final, the 10 names for the 2019 Premier League were confirmed, including Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld, who will make a farewell appearance before he retires after the 2020 PDC World Championship.
The five-times world champion was handed a wildcard after PDC chairman Barry Hearn admitted the 51-year-old was lucky to make the cut.
The full list of players is:
- Michael van Gerwen
- Rob Cross
- Peter Wright
- Gary Anderson
- Daryl Gurney
- Gerwyn Price
- Mensur Suljovic
- James Wade
- Michael Smith
- Raymond van Barneveld