Joe Cullen repeats Michael van Gerwen success with International Darts Open glory

Joe Cullen (Picture: Henning Roesner/PDC Europe)

Joe Cullen has repeated the feat he achieved last year by beating world number one Michael van Gerwen in a European Tour final, claiming the International Darts Open title on Sunday night.

The Rockstar beat MVG 8-5 in Riesa, the same scoreline he downed him by in the final of the 2019 European Darts Matchplay in September.

It is the Yorkshireman’s fourth ranking title in the PDC and takes him back into the top 16 in the world, but the 31-year-old insists he didn’t even play well in Germany this weekend.

Van Gerwen was a long way from his best in the final, averaging just 91.37, but Cullen turned in a very solid 97, while he also managed averages of 101 and 99 earlier in the event, which was played in front of a small crowd in Riesa.

‘It was the same scoreline as last time [the 2019 European Darts Matchplay] but the difference this time was Michael just didn’t get going,’ Cullen said.

‘It was lucky for me that he didn’t, because if he did then it would’ve been a different game.

‘I didn’t think I was too great either. It is a confidence-builder but I honestly don’t think I played well this tournament.

‘That said, the closest I came to losing was against Ross [Smith] in the quarter-finals. I just did enough to win every game.

‘It’s amazing to pick up this title in front of a crowd, we all miss the fans.’

Van Gerwen continued to struggle to find his best form, despite making it all the way to the final on Sunday.

He averaged 102 in a 6-3 win over James Wade in the quarter-finals, but three other averages in the 80s meant he could consider himself fortunate to make it to the final.

‘Driving home bitterly disappointed with myself,’ he tweeted. ‘My finishing wasn’t good enough and what I expect of myself.

‘Full credit to @rockstar_13_ on winning his second title. Well done mate.

‘Now my focus is on next weekend and getting it right there. Thank you for all the support’

It is a swift turnaround for both men with the European Championship starting on Thursday in Obehausen.

Cullen’s win on Sunday puts him at the top of the European Tour Order of Merit and goes into this week’s event as number one seed.

Van Gerwen has to settle for fifth, behind Gerwyn Price, Jose de Sousa and Devon Petersen.

£120,000 will be dished out to the winner on Sunday, but it will not be Glen Durrant, who has had to pull out after a positive Covid-19 test.

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