Betfred World Matchplay final: Van den Bergh completes fairy-tale debut
Dimitri Van den Bergh checked out four ton-plus finishes to coast past 2018 champion Gary Anderson (Picture: Alex Burstow/Getty Images).

Dimitri Van den Bergh ended a long wait for his first televised ranking title as he was crowned Betfred World Matchplay champion on Sunday night.

Little could separate the Belgian and world number eight Gary Anderson for the first dozen legs, but Van den Bergh surged ahead in a sensational performance to land the coveted Phil Taylor Trophy on his very first tournament appearance.

The Dutchman outclassed his far more experienced challenger at the Marshall Arena with a world-class display which included a 170 checkout and near-100 average.

  • The final: Van den Bergh 18-10 Anderson

Although 2018 winner Anderson was made firm favourite by the bookmakers, the contest - as expected - was incredibly tight for the first three sessions as nerves got the better of the two finalists.

Neither contestant managed to break throw until the 11th leg when Anderson and Van den Bergh exchanged breaks, each with a magnificent ton-plus checkout.

Anderson took out 130 to take the lead for the first time, before his Dutch opponent went one better with a blistering 170 finish on the bullseye to spark the game into life and level once more at 6-6.

The Scot was then left ruing a frustrating miss, catching the wrong side of the wire to miss the bullseye and with it a key break of throw for an 8-7 lead.

Van den Bergh consequently stole the 15th leg on double ten, and checked out 124 and 132 - both on the bullseye - on consecutive legs to widen the gap to 14-8.

Now completely in command, The DreamMaker was cruising to an unexpectedly simple victory as Anderson faded away.

Winning four of the next six legs, Van den Bergh found double 16 at the first time of asking to complete the most memorable night in his darting career so far.

  • 'I'm making my dreams come true'

Winner of £150,000 and one of the biggest tournaments in top-tier darts, Van den Bergh was almost lost for words in his post-match pressers.

"What a beautiful trophy I have in my hands," he told Sky Sports, "they call it the Phil Taylor Trophy and I've seen him play in so many tournaments.

"And Gary Anderson, I've seen him play in the BDO World Championships and I've always been a massive fan - I still am.

"Now that I've managed to win against a player like that on a trophy name like this one - just wow."

The former youth world champion has come a long way since his William Hill World Darts Championship debut in 2016; up until Saturday evening, the 26-year-old had never advanced beyond the quarter-finals of a major tournament.

This time however, he went all the way at the first time of asking.

"My family have been saying 'you've always had it in you', and all of a sudden it's happening," he told Sky Sports.

"I am making my dreams come true."

  • An unexpected mismatch

Anderson failed to turn up on that night in Milton Keynes.

He was understandably the favourite, although no one expected Van den Bergh to be out of his depth on the back of several impressive performances in the previous rounds.

The Scot had been consistent throughout the competition, but with just one 180 to his name in the entire final, his Matchplay appearance ended on a very sour note.

His opponent, meanwhile, was both composed and clinical, allowing very little wiggle room for errors.

Anderson, disappointed by his below-par outing, openly admitted that his opponent was a deserving winner on the night.

"He played well right from the off," he told PDC TV, "I just wasn’t there tonight.

"All credit to Dimitri, he's a lovely lad and deserves his win tonight.

"I had a few issues with my grip and darts dropping low, but no excuses - he deserves it."

  • What next for Dimitri?

He is now up there with the nine other greats who have lifted the Phil Taylor Trophy, one of the most coveted prizes in world darts.

Word on the street is the young Dutchman could feature in next year's Unibet Premier League; should he continue down this vein of form, there is no reason why he should not be on the list.

Having comfortably beaten a man considered to be one of the best in the business, Van den Bergh has returned from lock-down as a force to be reckoned with.

His attention will now turn to September's World Series of Darts Finals in Salzburg, where more success is certainly possible.