Michael van Gerwen produced a nine-dart finish and a maximum check-out as he laid down a marker for the World Championship by claiming a seventh Cazoo Players Championship title.
Van Gerwen started and finished in stunning style to defeat England’s Rob Cross, who landed 11 180s, 11-6 in the final in Minehead.
Asked afterwards about his World Championship prospects, an emotional Van Gerwen told ITV4: “If people want to beat me, they have to play well. If I play my game, they cannot beat me and they know it.
“But I have to show what I can, whether it’s Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright, whoever, I want to show what I can. I’m there, I did my thing this year, I’ve won a lot of tournaments and now I have to show it also at the World Championship. That’s what it is.”
After the first two legs had gone with the darts, Van Gerwen exploded into life in the third when he opened with 177, added his first 180 at his second visit and then completed a nine-darter with a superb 144 check-out.
He also took the next two, the second in 12 darts having missed double eight for a 10-dart leg, to lead 4-1 at the first interval.
Cross scrapped his way back into it, winning two of the next four legs, but found himself trailing 7-3 as the players left the stage for the second time.
To win this trophy again for the seventh time, it means a lot to me.
Michael van Gerwen
However, he made a big push on his return, claiming the next three legs as Van Gerwen faltered to reduce the deficit to just one, and he might have been level after 14, but missed his double and saw the Dutchman produce a 170 finish to ease away again.
He led 9-6 at the final break and a 142 check-out took him to within a leg of victory, and he duly obliged a the first time of asking.
Van Gerwen, who dedicated the win to his daughter Zoe, said: “You try something special and you keep digging, you keep working hard. I managed to hit a nine-darter and a 170 finish when I had to, but overall, Rob Cross played a phenomenal game.
“To win this trophy again for the seventh time, it means a lot to me. My daughter was watching every game and she said, ‘Daddy, are you coming home with a big trophy again’? I said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, I’m trying to’.
“I said to her, ‘If I win the trophy again, it’s going to be yours’, so that’s why I wanted to win it.”
Van Gerwen had earlier eased his way into the last four with a 10-7 victory over compatriot and UK Open champion Danny Noppert, hitting six maximums on the way.
He was similarly imposing in his semi-final clash with Luke Humphries with five 180s and an average of 101.59 to progress 11-5.