IT WAS game on during Friday night (March 10) as a darts icon came to prove his class at a Flintshire venue.

The Ace of Sports 2023 darts tournament was held at the Argoed Sports and Social Club in Mynydd Isa that night.

The venue was transformed into a darts haven with the special guest being none other than three-time world champion Michael Van Gerwen.

'The Green Machine' was brought up on stage to take on a range of competitors - from the next generation of young darts stars to some of the more experienced players.

That was all ahead of the grand finale against Shaun 'The Sheep' Thompson who had won the overall Ace of Sports 2023 darts tournament which was whittled down from 64 players to four semi-finalists a week earlier.

Thompson beat Jack Cooledge in his semi-final on Friday night, with Phil Wilcock beating Gwyn Rowlands in the other semi.

Thompson and Wilcock then went head-to-head, with 'The Sheep' proving too strong for his opponent and therefore winning the trophy and booking a match against Van Gerwen in the process.

A host of people from the crowd of over 130 people were then invited to the stage as the Dutchman arrived to a rapturous applause.

He went on to sweep his challengers aside one by one in a series of 501 matches.

Just the one player - Leon Bennett - managed to beat MVG as he was given the slight advantage of being awarded a win if he hit a double - which he managed to do.

Also impressive was the grandson of semi-finalist Gwyn Rowlands, Alex, who at just 11-years-old threw some great arrows.

Van Gerwen himself told him after the match: "I would have been jealous of how you played at your age when I was eleven!"

When the grand finale came around it was Thompson's turn to step up to the oche and test Van Gerwen - and he certainly did just that.

The Leader:

PIC: Shaun 'The Sheep' Thompson with John Jones and the 2023 Ace of Sports Darts Tournament trophy. Picture by Brian Prydden.

The Leader:

PIC: Michael Van Gerwen on stage with Shaun Thompson in their face-off. Picture by Brian Prydden.

After going a leg down to the current Premier League of Darts leader, 'The Sheep' turned it around to go 2-1 up, even throwing the first 180 of the night.

Sadly though, MVG's ruthlessness once again showed in the end as he fought back to win 3-2 in the best of five event. 

Speaking after the show, Shaun - who is a Huws Gray branch manager at Queensferry by day and is from Buckley - said: "I’ve played darts since I was 12, started at Clwyd Youth and I've always loved the game. A lot of my family played darts so I was always around the game. My step-dad Derek Williams was a big factor too.

"It felt great to win the comp, it was hard playing a very good friend in the final, Phil, who played great. I knew if I could get past the comp, I would always play well against Michael.

"I had in my head, win one leg and get a 180 - which I did. But, to be that close to beating such a class player was unreal. Michael put on a great show all night to be fair.

"I’m looking forward to my next comps now and hopefully in the next year get a sponsor and start doing more to help my game."

Ace of Sports' John Jones, who is from Mold, added: "This night has been worth all the hard work, it's been weeks and weeks of preparation to bring a superstar back to north Wales, where I'm from.

The Leader:

PIC: Phones out for MVG at Argoed Sports and Social Club! Picture by Brian Prydden.

"The biggest thing about it is the look on people's faces, that's made every penny spent on it worthwhile for me.

"The standard has been high. If you're going to do something like this and they're going to play a legend of the sport, who still plays now and is one of the best in the world, you have to have decent players or it would get boring very quickly and north Wales hasn't disappointed in that respect.

"This is a continued effort to bring high level back to north Wales and we're looking to bring the very best, top players in the world for the people of north Wales to enjoy."

During the event, a number of items were auctioned off and Van Gerwen generously donated a shirt to the Argoed Sports and Social Club to help it raise money.