Normal service resumes as Michael Van Gerwen wins first PDC Summer Series event
Michael Van Gerwen made a triumphant return to the oche, overcoming world champion Peter Wright in a nail-biting final to win the first of five PDC Summer Series events that will be held over successive days in Milton Keynes.
Having held a successful Home Tour during the coronavirus lockdown, the PDC has gathered 128 players for five behind closed doors events this week to mark its official return amid the pandemic.
Van Gerwen claimed bragging rights on day one, the Dutchman avenging his defeat in the World Championship final at Alexandra Palace earlier this year with an 8-7 victory over Wright, who was notably dressed down for the occasion.
Gone was the Scotsman’s trademark multi-coloured Mohican hairstyle while he also wore glasses, but the change seemed to pay off as he averaged 108 and 105 to see off Glen Durrant and Krzysztof Ratajski to reach the final.
Van Gerwen’s route to the showpiece saw him topple Ciaran Teehan, William Borland, Callan Rydz, Jamie Hughes and Danny Noppert before averaging 107 in his semi-final defeat of Gabriel Clemens.
Van Gerwen stole a march on Wright in the final which pitted the top two players in the world against each other, breezing into a 5-2 lead in the first to eight battle.
But Van Gerwen watched on helplessly as Wright won five legs on the spin to move to the brink of victory, only for the world number one to roar back and pip his rival in the final leg to end a riveting, topsy-turvy contest.
“I’m very happy,” Van Gerwen said on the PDC’s official website. “It was a tough day and I had to perform really well but I worked hard and I did enough.
“For the first tournament after this big gap, I think it wasn’t too bad. I’m really glad to be back. I played some good darts but you never know what can happen – there’s no easy games any more.
“It doesn’t matter who you draw now, you have to be sharp otherwise they will beat you. It’s been my biggest gap ever, four months is a long time to be away but I’m happy that I showed everyone that I’m back.”