Van Gerwen produces remarkable fightback to deny Cullen in World Championship epic
Michael van Gerwen is through to the Quarter-Finals of the 2020/21 PDC World Darts Championship defeating Joe Cullen in a 4-3 sets win after coming from 3-1 down in one of the greatest games ever seen on the Alexandra Palace stage.
Cullen missed multiple match darts at the bull as the tie went all the way to a sudden death leg and with match darts coming and going, he couldn't match 'Mighty Mike' in the final leg as he walked off the stage visibly distraught.
This came after a remarkable 19 180's from Cullen who produced an incredible scoring display throughout as he finally showed up at the showpiece event albeit without the rewards.
To begin the tie, Cullen made a disappointing error missing his chance at a 77 checkout and Van Gerwen was back to break immediately with a 56 checkout.
He then missed 124 on the bull but Van Gerwen drifted into double 15 to bust allowing Cullen back for double four which he pinned last dart in hand to break back immediately.
He left 24 on his own throw with Van Gerwen down to 110 and Cullen pinned double six to go 2-1 up.
A miscount proved fatal as he left double three which he couldn’t pin and he missed five darts for the set as a result.
He diminished that disappointment with a 180 to kick off his leg but he missed two more darts for the set at double 20 and double 10 but Van Gerwen couldn’t steal the set. Cullen finally got over the line on double 10 to go 1-0 up.
He missed an early opportunity for a break and was royally punished by Van Gerwen who pinned double eight to go 1-0 up but again Cullen started with a 180 and drew level on double 10.
Van Gerwen missed double four for a 128 but wasn’t under too much pressure pinning double one last dart in hand.
A 91 checkout for an 11-darter saw Cullen draw it level and a poor start for Van Gerwen gave Cullen a slim head start.
Cullen missed double nine for the set and was punished with Van Gerwen pinning a 52 checkout.
It was a ninth consecutive hold of throw for Cullen as he claimed the advantage in the set. It was a tenth as Van Gerwen hit double 14.
Cullen was under pressure from Van Gerwen on his throw but he pinned double 20 first time to hit the front. A 12-dart leg from Van Gerwen saw him send it to a decider as he was under serious pressure despite going six legs into a nine-darter.
Cullen pinned double 18 to go 2-1 up as he continued to take the game to the World Number One. A 123 checkout saw him break to go one up.
But Van Gerwen in an incredible leg of darts broke straight back with a 52 checkout as he looked to go towards levelling it up. Cullen sent it the distance by pinning double 20. A brilliant 85 checkout saw Cullen hit double 14 as he went 3-1 ahead in sets.
Van Gerwen pinned a 94 to break but Cullen was back to hold throw and he had the chance to potentially break with a nine-darter to go one away.
But as was the game that Van Gerwen was sat on 121 which he missed but he punished Cullen’s chance taking it 3-1 in a set which Cullen started.
He had the darts in the requisite set as he looked to force a decider. Cullen missed 161 on the bull for a hold but Van Gerwen couldn’t punish on the bull himself for an 88. Neither could Cullen though as he started to miss on double eight for a 25 checkout.
The pressure got to Van Gerwen though as Cullen pinned double four after Van Gerwen missed his chance to break. Could Cullen break to head towards the finishing line?
A poor set up from Cullen when Van Gerwen was flanking saw the former head to the front on double 10. It was either another decider or Van Gerwen levelling it up.
Cullen made it 16 180’s but missed his first opportunity at 76. 133 left 46 for Van Gerwen but Cullen’s brilliant guide saw him go one away.
Cullen missed the bull for a 90 checkout and the victory and Van Gerwen survived on double 20. A 12-dart leg from Cullen from 91 began the deciding set.
A bounceout from Cullen on the 132 gave Van Gerwen an opportunity to hold on double eight which he did. Cullen missed double 16 for a 2-1 lead but Van Gerwen missed 120 for the break. The former took the chance to go 2-1 up.
Cullen missed another match dart at the bull from a 164 and it went the distance. This killed him off as he couldn’t find a treble while Van Gerwen found 180 and he pinned it second dart on double eight.
2021 PDC World Darts Championship schedule
Tuesday December 29
Evening Session (18:00 GMT)
Dave Chisnall (99.69) 4-2 (88.7) Danny Noppert (R3) (0-3, 0-3, 3-0, 3-1, 3-1, 3-0)
Gabriel Clemens (92.05) 3-4 (95.76) Krzysztof Ratajski (Last 16) (2-3, 3-1, 2-3, 3-2, 2-3, 3-2, 2-3)
Michael van Gerwen (100.43) 4-3 (95.62) Joe Cullen (Last 16) (2-3, 3-2, 2-3, 2-3, 3-1, 3-2)