Perhaps it was simply a trick of the senses, but at times, as unlikely as it might have seemed, a reverential hush seemed to fall over Alexandra Palace in north London yesterday. The songs and the slogans would fall silent. The placards would stop waving. The only things that mattered in sport's loudest and most boisterous arena were one man, three darts and a little strip of red fibre the size of a sticking plaster.

This was Michael van Gerwen's world, and for the second time, this was his world darts title. He won it by beating Gary Anderson by seven sets to three, in one of the most breathtaking displays of scoring.

The 27-year-old from Boxtel in Holland now holds every single major trophy in darts. And on nights like this, when he weaves his spell, when he treats the treble-20 bed like his own personal voodoo doll, you feel privileged to have been there to witness one of the few genuine geniuses plying his trade in sport today.

For the past four years, van Gerwen has been the single most dominant force on the Professional Darts Corporation tour, winning around the world, across every format, redefining the possible in terms of scoring. But while he always claimed not to be bothered by his failure to add to his single world title in 2014, somehow you suspected it was part of his characteristic bluster.


Now, as he held the Sid Waddell Trophy aloft again, true greatness awaits. Even if he still has some way to go to match the great Phil Taylor and his 16 world titles, he now has a fair claim to be the best player ever.

As recently as a decade ago, a three-dart average of 90 would guarantee your presence in the latter stages of most tournaments. Van Gerwen averaged 108 - a little short of the world championship record of 114 he managed in the semifinal against Raymond van Barneveld, but still too good by far for Anderson.

The world No2 and the champion in 2015 in 2016 averaged 105. Of the 42 maximum 180s, the most ever seen in a darts match, he hit 22. And he was still reduced to rubble.

Not that Anderson, a genial 46-year-old ex-builder from the Scottish Borders, was the sort to get too hung up about it.

"Three years? Three finals? Not too bad for an old man in glasses," he said with a chuckle.

Van Gerwen, for his part, was simply basking in the glow of a job well done. As he always says, darts is a game of confidence. And when, like van Gerwen, you know you are the best in the business, a certain serenity overcomes you.

It was certainly evident as he turned a 2-1 deficit into an unassailable 6-2 lead in the blink of an eye, hitting 12-dart legs with impunity.

When did he know it was in the bag? "At 4-2," he said. "I gave myself so much confidence that he had to do something really special. Then 5-2, 6-2, and I thought: this is it."