Michael van Gerwen picked up his first ranking title of 2023 by defeating Josh Rock 8-4 in Sunday’s Players Championship 7 final in Hildesheim.
World number three Van Gerwen began the ProTour double-header in Germany by scooping the £12,000 top prize for a first Players Championship win since April last year.
The success saw Van Gerwen – the winner of three Cazoo Premier League nights so far in 2023 – claim his first ranking triumph of the year in style.
The UK Open runner-up a fortnight ago, Van Gerwen’s display at Halle 39 was his best away from the TV cameras as he swept through the field before seeing off World Youth Champion Rock in the decider.
“I had to work very hard,” admitted Van Gerwen. “I have six gears but I won it in fourth gear today.
“I wasn’t playing well most of the day, but the games where I had to play well – to beat Dirk in the quarter-finals I played really well there, and against Josh in the final – I did it.
“That gives you confidence and gives you pleasure but I wasn’t great today. Of course I want to play better but I did it whenever I had to do, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Other than at the UK Open, Van Gerwen had not won past the quarter-finals in a ranking event this year, but was pleased with his overall display in seven victories on Sunday.
“They’re long days, very long days,” added the 33-year-old. “At this stage in my life, every tournament I compete in I want to win and it gets harder.
“If you look at the floor tournaments nowadays there’s no easy games any more so I have to battle for every game, but overall I’m pleased with my win and that’s really important.
“A lot has changed – everyone can play a 100+ average and that’s how good the tour is at the moment so that’s why you need to get focused.”
Van Gerwen breezed past Jacques Labre, Keegan Brown, Martin Lukeman and Boris Krcmar for the loss of just seven legs to book his spot in the quarter-finals.
There, he produced his highest average of the day at 104.95 in a superb 6-4 win over Dutch rival Dirk van Duijvenbode, before seeing off former World Youth Champion Bradley Brooks by a two-leg margin in the semi-finals.
The final saw Van Gerwen meet the reigning World Youth Champion in Rock, who took the opening leg before seeing the Dutchman win five of the next six to move 5-2 up.
Rock cut the gap to 5-4, but legs of 11 and 12 darts for Van Gerwen pushed him clear at 7-4 before he closed out the title.
Northern Ireland’s Rock also enjoyed his best run in a ranking event this year by reaching the final, as he sought to emulate his Players Championship 28 win of 2022.
The youngster produced three ton-plus averages on the day – against Luke Woodhouse, Brendan Dolan and Mario Vandenbogaerde – and saw off Premier League star Dimitri Van den Bergh and Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski in the latter stages.
Ratajski won through to a semi-final for the first time since last August, hitting a trio of ton-plus averages in his five wins on the day.
Former junior star Brooks won through to his first ProTour semi-final in an impressive run which saw him overcome Devon Petersen, Chris Dobey, Gary Anderson, Callan Rydz and Dave Chisnall – and he led Van Gerwen 4-2 before the Dutchman won five of the final six legs to prevail.
Sunday’s action also featured a nine-darter from Northern Irish star Dolan in his second round win over Richard Veenstra.
Other notable displays included a 113.18 average from Dave Chisnall in his third round win over Daryl Gurney, which bettered the mean score of Stephen Bunting (111.29) and Luke Humphries (110.30) in their second round victories.
The Players Championship double-header in Hildesheim concludes on Tuesday, with the PC8 from 1300 local time (1200 GMT) being streamed through PDCTV and bookmakers’ websites worldwide.
2023 Players Championship 7
Sunday March 19, Halle 39, Hildesheim
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-4 Luke Humphries
Josh Rock 6-4 Mario Vandenbogaerde
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Cam Crabtree
Mickey Mansell 6-5 Ross Montgomery
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Stephen Bunting
Bradley Brooks 6-4 Callan Rydz
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-4 Jeffrey Sparidaans
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Boris Krcmar
Josh Rock 6-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Mickey Mansell
Bradley Brooks 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Josh Rock 7-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Michael van Gerwen 7-5 Bradley Brooks
Michael van Gerwen 8-4 Josh Rock
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