As the curtains fell at the 2019 Betvictor Masters in Milton Keynes, Michael Van Gerwen lifted his 5th consecutive Masters title.
The Dutchman remains unbeaten in 20 matches at the Masters since 2015; outclassing James Wade in the Final 11-5. Van Gerwen expressed his confidence after winning the first major of the year post-match. “You want to be strong here to start the year and give yourself confidence and I’ve done that.” Although Van Gerwen cruised to the tournament precipice, inconsistencies in his game and checkouts were apparent.
Inconsistency and rustiness would be the theme of the tournament. With players coming off an extended break after the World Championships, many could not reliably maintain high averages or checkout percentages. Nevertheless, the tournament was filled with thrills, spills and high quality darts.
Key Stats: Highest average, highest checkouts and highest double %
Highest Average: Mensur Suljovic averaged 106 in a dominant display against Simon Whitlock in the first round. “The Gentle” romped to a quarter-final place but could not replicate this form against Michael Van Gerwen.
Highest Checkout: Michael Van Gerwen threw the maximum checkout twice during the Masters, curbing his doubles angst by hitting 170 checkouts in his Semi-Final and Grand-Final wins.
Highest Checkout %: Double trouble hampered many players performances at the Masters. Mensur Suljovic secured a 58.82% checkout percentage against Whitlock but James Wade takes my plaudits for checkout %.
Wade scored a 57.89% checkout percentage against Peter Wright in the Semi-Final, hitting 11/19 doubles to reach his second Masters final.
Upset of the Tournament
Bucking the trend for debutants at this years Masters, Joe Cullen won his first-round match 10-6 against Rob Cross. “The Rockstar” averaged 94.89, hit a 47% checkout percentage and six 180s against the 2018 World Champion.
From the 13th leg, Cullen won three-consecutive legs and ended the match with a 107 checkout. Cross produced a rusty display, missing over five shots at big numbers to set up doubles, allowing Cullen to cause the upset of the tournament.
Comeback of the Tournament
Dave Chisnall recovered from 2-6 down to beat Daryl Gurney 10-8 in the first-round, averaging 97.56, scoring a 35.71% checkout percentage and hitting fives 180s.
Gurney let an 8-7 lead slip through his fingers as Chisnall won 3 consecutive legs; capping off the fight-back with a 101 checkout. Chisnall continued this form by averaging just under 100 in his 10-4 win against Stephen Bunting.
However, like so many players at this year’s Masters, his form dipped when it mattered, losing in a deflated performance against Michael Van Gerwen.
Match of the Tournament
Wade vs Peter Wright in the Semi-Final was a competitive and engrossing contest. Neither player was on form, Wade could not sustain 100+ scoring and Wright was struggling on the doubles.
The match was combative from the beginning. At 5-5, Wright was outscoring Wade but had already missed 15 darts at double; Wade was sustaining an impressive 71% checkout percentage.
By the 15th leg, there were eight consecutive breaks of throw and the match was on a knife edge. Then pace of the game picked up and Wade took control.
From 8-7, Wade averaged 105 in the last three legs, winning the match by hitting his favourite double 10 (hitting 5/6 shots at that double). Checkouts and finishing key legs were essential for “The Machine” in reaching the final, hitting a 57.89% checkout percentage to edge the closely contested affair.
The Final and the Champion’s performance
The final was a showpiece of Michael Van Gerwen’s superiority against the rest of the field. MVG ended the match as a contest in the 8th leg, breaking Wade’s throw and cruising to victory, hitting three 100+ checkouts including his second 170 in the 10th leg.
The Dutchman displayed his talent in the final but was unsatisfied with his form. Van Gerwen admitted that there is another level to his game “I didn’t play phenomenally in this tournament and there’s more in the tank.”
MVG averaged over 100 throughout the tournament but only hit a relatively low 32% checkout percentage. Wade said similar comments after the final. “I played really poorly in the final. There’s still a lot more to come from me.”
This was the same for every player at the Masters, all of them finding their form to carry over into the rest of the calendar. Despite these inconsistencies, the Masters was compelling and gives darts fans a glimpse of the terrific tungsten which will happen throughout the year.
Author: Freddie Webb