Michael van Gerwen suffered another disappointing defeat as he lost the final of the Cazoo Masters to Michael Bunting. The darts legend, who was beaten by Luke Littler in the Bahrain Masters showdown last month, missed out on the £65,000 prize pot in the televised event.
Bunting, who has become famed for his viral TikTok clips, defeated Van Gerwen 11-7 in Milton Keynes. It was the 38-year-old’s first televised title triumph on the PDC tour in 10 years of trying.
He joined the PDC in 2014 but has struggled to win the biggest events. He was visibly emotional as he was handed the trophy before undertaking his media duties.
“I promised that I wouldn’t cry if I won, but it means a lot to me because I’ve been in the PDC for a lot of years now. Winning trophies was the main aim obviously after moving over from the BDO,” Bunting said.
“But when you come here you are playing the best of the best. These boys will push you all the way.
“Michael van Gerwen is a multiple world champion and a fantastic dart player. But I really deserved this trophy.”
World No. 2 Van Gerwen, a three-time world champion, has now lost three of his last four major finals. In a touching moment during the trophy presentation, the Dutchman put his feelings to one side and hugged Bunting’s 11-year-old son Toby.
He felt he played well enough to win the match but ultimately hailed Bunting as the ‘form player’.
Van Gerwen reflected: “Stephen is the form player right now. I thought I was playing a bit better but I couldn’t make the difference. Fair play to him – he played really well through the whole tournament.”
A defeat by the teenage sensation Littler in Bahrain in mid-January was a frustration for Van Gerwen. But he hit back against the 17-year-old by beating him in Holland on his way to winning the Dutch Masters title last week.
Van Gerwen, who was also knocked out of the World Darts Championship by Luke Williams in the quarter-finals, is next in action against Nathan Aspinall on the second night of the Premier League on Thursday. He then faces a crunch clash with Peter Wright a week later.