Data analysis: The all-conquering Michael van Gerwen

By Steve Morgan – Darts Venue Co-ordinator, Sportradar

As official data partner to the PDC since 2013, Sportradar has been recording data for all televised PDC tournament matches as well as providing official match statistics.

We have digitised results and varying levels of data from all PDC tournaments since the PDC was formed in 1992. Since 2013 we have collected dart-by-dart data on all televised matches and many non-televised and streamed events to the point where we currently have data for over 70,000 matches in our database.

Last Thursday night, The O2 in London was the scene of yet another remarkable night in the career of Michael van Gerwen. The Dutchman sealed his third consecutive Premier League title and his fourth in total. His win over Michael Smith in the final, with an average of 112.37, was the highest Premier League Final average, beating Phil Taylor’s 111.67 in 2010 against James Wade.

What’s perhaps less well known is that a couple of weeks prior to the culmination of this year’s Premier League a significant Michael van Gerwen streak came to an end.

Make a little mark in your diary for April 26th, 2018 as it may be a while before Michael van Gerwen has such a below-par night in the Premier League stage again. In fact, his recent match against Michael Smith in the 2018 Premier League in Manchester was notable for one outstanding fact.

It was the first time since he faced Adrian Lewis on 21st April 2016 that he played a Premier League match and achieved an average of less than 100, a run that stretches back 36 matches.

Furthermore, his average in that match of 94.76 was the first time he had dipped below 95 since March 2015 – a total of 60 matches.

As we reflect on another amazing Premier League season let’s put some of these Premier League stats into perspective …

The run of thirty-six matches spanned a period of just over two years in the Premier League where the standard of ‘Mighty Mike’s’ darts did not drop below a three-figure average.

His overall three-dart average for those 36 matches was an incredible 104.32 and included…

  • 249 legs won and 152 legs lost
  • 249 doubles hit out of 572 attempts = 43.53%
  • 26 matches won, five drawn, five lost
  • 141 x 180s (almost four per match)
  • 29 other scores of 170+ including two 170 checkouts
  • 303 x 140+ scores
  • 436 x 100+ scores including 33 x 100+ checkouts

An average of over 343 points with his first nine darts in every leg is significant. In other words, on average Van Gerwen leaves himself a possible three-dart finish (158 points) after nine darts in each leg. This gives him a significant advantage over every other player that does not leave a finish after 9 darts – he effectively has six darts available to score those points.

Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Overall statistics for Van Gerwen in the Premier League are consistently impressive. He has topped the league table all six times (2013 to 2018) that he has played in the Premier League.

He has also reached the final in all six seasons and even when he lost finals in 2014 and 2015 he recorded a higher average than the winner.

He has played 107 matches since his debut in 2013 and has recorded only four averages of less than 95 during that time and only 19 less than a 100 average. His overall average for those 107 matches is around 104.

He has averaged over 100 in 88 matches out of 107 including a World Record average of 123.40

The World Record he claimed against Michael Smith in 2016 could have been as high as 133.18 if he had been successful with his first match dart. He eventually sealed the match on his fifth match dart one leg later.

For a while last Thursday, he was on course to challenge his own World Record TV average of 123.40. The break after 10 legs may have cost him that opportunity. Coming back, with an average of 122.24 over the 10 legs prior to the break, it is very likely he knew that he needed to win the next three legs in 35 darts or less to improve the record.

Three winning legs in a total of 35 darts would have given a 123.74 average and 34 darts would have given him 124.55 – even three 11-darters is more than possible for this record-breaker so 125.37 was also not out of the question.

His body-language when he missed Double 16 with the 12th dart of the 11th leg indicated that he knew the chance had probably slipped away and his focus appeared to shift to winning the title and the £250,000 winner’s cheque.

Van Gerwen has dominated the sport in recent years and has taken over from Phil Taylor as the dominant force in darts. So far in 2018 he has won 12 titles including Premier League, The Masters and 4 out of the 5 European Tour events he has entered.

Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Comparison of 100+ averages by Michael van Gerwen compared to rest of the field

2013

10 / 18 by MvG                 55.56%

33 / 134 by others           24.63%

2014

12 / 18 by MvG                 66.67%

36 / 134 by others           26.87%

2015

15 / 18 by MvG                 83.33%

55 / 134 by others           41.04%

2016

15 / 18 by MvG                 83.33%

46 / 134 by others           34.33%

2017

18 / 18 by MvG                 100%

48 / 132 by others           36.36%

2018

17 / 18 by MvG                 94.44%

28 / 134 for others          20.90%

Images via Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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