Mensur Suljovic claimed the biggest title of his career, beating Gary Anderson in the final to win the Champions League of Darts with a 100% record.
The Austrian headed into the second renewal of the the event in Cardiff as the rank outsider of the eight names in the frame but he was the only man to win all his matches, culminating in a thrilling 11-9 win over The Flying Scotsman to claim the trophy and the cheque for £100,000.
The pair had met in the opening round of group games on Saturday with the Austrian emerging triumphant 10-3 but it proved to be a much closer contest in the tournament’s finale.
Suljovic had beaten Raymond van Barneveld 11-9, courtesy of a brilliant 160 finish in the semi-final, while Anderson became the first man to beat Phil Taylor in two years of the event with a 10-6 victory in the last four to end The Power’s hopes of retaining the title.
Having lost to 11-1 to Michael van Gerwen in his first major televised final at the 2016 European Championship, Suljovic was eager to prove himself worthy and certainly did that, rallying from 3-1 behind early on to forge a 6-3 lead.
However the Flying Scotsman has played himself into form and had avoided eight missed match darts from opponent over the weekend, including a couple from Peter Wright in their final group match that would have seen him head home at the expense of Snakebite.
And he was at it again, hauling himself back from the three-leg deficit to ensure it was all square at 7-7 heading into the interval and effectively turning the final into a best of seven shoot-out.
After Suljovic had taken a nervy first leg following the break, Anderson levelled with a superb 11-dart leg. There remained little between the pair and locked at 9-9 the 19th leg proved crucial with Suljovic missing darts for the lead before returning to pin double 14 and to move one leg away from the title.
With nerves setting in, Suljovic needed 106 to win the title and missed double 14 to claim the title but he was to return after Anderson made a mess of things and the Austrian needed just one dart to claim the title and saw him sink to his knees in disbelief.
Earlier in the evening Suljovic had produced fireworks to beat Barney in a thrilling semi-final that was nip and tuck throughout.
Again the drama came in the closing stages before Mensur Suljovic emerged triumphant in the battle of the debutants.
Leading 10-9 and having missed double top for a 157 finish and the match, Mensur Suljovic saw Barney throw nine brilliant darts to leave himself on 32.
Sitting on 160 the Austrian took out a brilliant three dart combination with two treble 20s leave double top which he pinned to seal his spot in the final and he was to follow with a performance every bit as dramatic.
In the other semi-final, Anderson eased past a tired Taylor who admitted afterwards that the punishing schedule favoured the younger man.
Taylor had won all five matches on his way to the title last year and having made it three wins out of three with a 10-9 victory that ended Michael van Gerwen’s hopes earlier in the day could not keep pace with Anderson.
That meant there was to be no fairytale for The Power in his farewell year on the tour, but Suljovic ensured there was a story to remember with his success in the final.
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