Daryl Gurney had a rotten record against Michael van Gerwen.
The tale of the tape is still lopsided in the Dutchman’s favour but the most recent meeting between the two produced a classic Players Championship final.
Gurney landed the right darts at the right time to fight back from 9-8 down to claim an 11-9 win.
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The world number five, who starts his World Championship campaign against England’s Ross Smith this evening, admitted that winning his second major – in addition to the 2017 Grand Prix in Dublin – was a massive step up in his career.
Prior to the Players Championship win, MVG had the measure of the Derry native, winning 17 of their previous 19 clashes.
Gurney revealed that he was conscious of not getting caught in the slipstream of the world’s best player for the Minehead clash at the end of November.
"Many times I’ve played him and seem to have got into his rhythm and been throwing too fast," the 32-year-old told RTÉ Sport.
"All I was doing was playing to my pace. I do that most of the time but sometimes I get carried away when I’m playing Michael. I’d be thinking ‘oh, I don’t want to slow him down’ or ‘it’s Michael van Gerwen, I’ve got to throw as fast as he is.
DARYL GURNEY WINS THE 2018 LADBROKES PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS 🏆 pic.twitter.com/9C1pssxw5t— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) November 25, 2018
"So I slowed down to my pace, just concentrated on my game and not what he was doing. That’s what kept the heart rate down and kept me focused and made sure I didn’t miss any crucial doubles."
Gurney also revealed that he had been doing his homework and was able to learn from MVG’s quarter-final match against Carlow’s Steve Lennon, who plays James Bailey from Australia this evening.
"I was going to just attack and hope to get the result," said the Northern Ireland international.
"But I noticed that when he was playing Steve Lennon he was 4-1 up and Steve should have got it back to 4-4.
"He then missed six darts to make it 4-all and then had darts at a double in the next three legs and he missed them and Michael hit them. Steve could have been in that position. I just took it from there.
"I was taking small mental notes when I was in the back practicing and they were out playing."
Gurney and the two-time world champion had been involved in a war of words between the Champions League and Grand Prix.
Van Gerwen said that he believed Gurney was not a "top-eight" player despite his world ranking.
The drive to show MVG that he was mistaken in this assertion motivated Gurney.
"When I was playing I had those things going through my head, that Michael thought I wasn’t good enough," he said.
"Obviously, I hadn’t beaten him in a long time on the stage. One time I was chatting to him and he said Peter Wright missed darts at a double to beat him in a final and he says ‘I knew I could beat him because he can’t cross the finish line in a final [against me]'.
"For me I wanted to make sure I put that seed in his head now – that I had one dart to beat him and I took it out on the bull. It was still 10-9 at that stage so there was not much between us.
"I just thought at some stage when it got tight, he was going to get tight [with his action], which he did in the last leg and I threw a good leg and gave myself the opportunity to close it out the first time of asking."
Robert Thornton v Daniel Larsson (R1)
Ricky Evans v Rowby-John Rodriguez (R1)
Krzysztof Ratajski v Seigo Asada (R1)
Darren Webster v Vincent van der Voort (R2)
Steve Lennon v James Bailey (R1)
Ron Meulenkamp v Diogo Portela (R1)
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Chuck Puleo (R1)
Daryl Gurney v Ross Smith (R2)