Michael Van Gerwen knew he had his hands on the PDC World Darts Championship title for a third time as soon as he took a 4-0 lead in the final against Michael Smith.
The world number one took advantage of a nervy and wasteful start by first-time finalist Smith to ease into a commanding lead on his way to a 7-3 win at Alexandra Palace.
But there was a moment in the match where a comeback looked possible as Smith fired a 124 checkout to finally get on the board and then posted back-to-back bullesye finishes to make it 4-2.
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) January 1, 2019
At that point there was a real momentum change and Smith sniffed a chance, but Van Gerwen shut him down, mercilessly reeling off successive sets before eventually getting the job done.
"No, after 4-0 I was never in doubt that I was going to win the tournament but you still have to do it," he said.
"I managed to do well at the right moment and that is why I won.
"He didn't play well at all, I think the pressure got to him and I used that against him and that's what you should do. It wasn't the best match of the tournament but it was the most important one.
"I think I can do even better than this."
This means the world.
Thank you everyone for support and messages!
— Michael Van Gerwen (@MvG180) January 2, 2019
The title consolidates Van Gerwen's position at the top of the men's game and while he might struggle to match the phenomenal numbers of 16-time world champion Phil Taylor, the Dutchman looks set to reign supreme for a good while yet.
Smith, who missed a host of doubles to make the encounter closer, has other ideas, though, and claims Van Gerwen is not the best player in the world.
"It's annoying because I know if I turn up I am a better player than Michael, if we both turn up, I am," Smith said.
"I am searching for that one big win. As soon as I get that you best watch out, everyone best watch out.
"For me Michael is not the best player out there, he might be world number one, but he's not.
"We are the same age, he just got there a little bit quicker. When I do get it, it's the end for him. I will take his number one perch. I will work hard and get the job done next year."