Bottle, bravery, breathtakingly brilliant!

Team Unicorn superstar Gary Anderson is the 2018 World Matchplay Champion after winning the greatest final in the 25-year history of the tournament as he saw off Mensur Suljovic 21-19 in an epic at the Winter Gardens.

Four times Gary threw for the match and was pegged back before finally hitting one of the sweetest double 10s of his career in what was also the longest ever Blackpool final.

It also completes the PDC Triple Crown for Anderson as he adds the Matchplay title to his World Championship and Premier League.

Anderson pockets £115,000 plus the £45,000 for his historic 9 darter, but it is the trophy and the title that means more.

“I am smiling now but what a match, what a struggle!” he said. “Mensur kept coming back at me time and time again. It was a case of hanging in there and taking my chances when they came along, but winning this title means so much to me.”

And what a final it was....Anderson led 17-13 and only needed one leg for victory. Twice he threw for the match and twice Suljovic broke throw. Twice more Gary was denied in the tie-break and he saw a dart at the bull fall out for what would have been a 121 finish to win it!

But he held his nerve with huge 180s in consecutive legs from 19-19 to claim his first Matchplay title.

It was an absolute thriller. The two traded blows like darting prize fighters and they slugged it out for two epic hours in what will also go down as one of the greatest finals in the history of the PDC.

“It was a privilege to play in a match like that. I was frustrated because I know I should have wrapped it up earlier but Mensur wouldn’t let go. I knew I was playing well all week so that makes it extra special,” Anderson added.

After 10 legs, it was five apiece and both were averaging 106. It set the tone for the drama to come.

Both were missing doubles to add to the drama. The Austrian hit 118 to move ahead at 8-7 and then broke throw to open up a two-leg advantage. The next half-a-dozen legs were vital because Suljovic has darts to win them all, but from 7-9 down the Scot won seven of the next eight legs to open up a 14-10 lead.

In the 18th leg, Suljovic hit seven perfect darts but lost it and Gary pounced. He took out 105 and 77 to extend his lead to four legs again at away from the finishing line but back came Suljovic with four successive legs and we were into a tie-break.

The Unicorn ace broke and then was pegged back twice more. At 19-18 his dart dropped out of the red bit in the middle and Suljovic squared it. Then Gary produced a spectacular 12 darter to break and finally finished off on D10.

It was magnificent. Suljovic actually outscored Anderson but he came up with some big visits when it mattered. They hit 14 x 180s each but in total the Austrian hit 109 scores of 100+ to Gary’s 91. The Unicorn averaged 101 to Suljovic’s 104.

But take a bow Gary of THE greatest players ever!

World Matchplay Final:

Gary Anderson 21-19 Mensur Suljovic

Story from STUART PYKE

Photo courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC

Posted in Unicorn Darts