The South Africa captain posted the fastest 150 runs in one-day international cricket with some brutal late hitting, setting his team on course for a record 257-run win over a West Indies lineup that entered Friday's Pool B match on a high after back-to-back big wins over Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe following an opening loss to Ireland.
Veteran West Indies slogger Chris Gayle blazed a World Cup-record 215 earlier in the week against Zimbabwe, equaling one of de Villiers' records for most sixes (16) in a limited-overs innings, during his emphatic return from a form slump.
When the pair came head-to-head on Friday, however, there was one clear winner.
"You get into that kind of mode, and it doesn't happen very often, it's quite a good (to) feel that you one step ahead of the bowlers," de Villiers said. "That's part of cricket. You work really hard to get yourself in and then you work really hard to get some momentum and then you've earned the right to take a bit of control of the game."
De Villiers, the No. 1-ranked ODI batsman, had a quiet start to the World Cup as South Africa beat Zimbabwe in its opening match and then crashed to a 130-run loss to defending champion India.
He also had a slow start to his innings, ensuring he got established after Gayle took two wickets within three balls in a rare bright moment for the West Indies, before the South African hastened the run-rate.
"I really felt the guys were motivated to play some good cricket," de Villiers said. "It's a great turnaround after the disappointing loss," to India.
De Villiers belted 68 of the 80 runs that South Africa scored in the last 3.2 overs, an amazing attack on a top-eight team to post 408-5, the second highest total ever in a World Cup. He reached 150 from 64 balls, and finished 162 not out from 66 deliveries including 17 boundaries and eight sixes.
Also contributing for South Africa were Hashim Amla (65), Faf du Plessis (62) and Rilee Rossouw (61).
The result equaled the biggest win by runs in the tournament. India beat Bermuda by the same margin in 2007, although it still holds the record for the highest total with 413 in that match.
Jason Holder, the 23-year-old fast bowler who inherited the West Indies captaincy during a lopsided, losing tour to South Africa in December, took particular punishment. After taking one wicket and conceding nine runs in his first five overs, he went for 95 runs in his last five overs to become only the second bowler to concede a hundred in a World Cup game.
Holder partially made up for that with a brave, rearguard 56 as the West Indies crumbled for 151 in reply. Gayle was the first wicket to fall, out for three. Marlon Samuels, who scored an unbeaten 133 and shared a record 372-run stand with Gayle earlier in the week, was out without scoring. Legspinner Imran Tahir returned 5-45.
There are two matches set for Saturday, with defending champion India playing the United Arab Emirates in Perth and the highly-anticipated contest between co-hosts New Zealand and Australia in Auckland.
Brendon McCullum's New Zealanders have three wins from three starts and, at Eden Park, are in the unfamiliar position of being favourite against four-time champion Australia, which opened with a comfortable win over England but had to share the points with Bangladesh when their second match was washed out in Brisbane.
The Auckland clash will mark the return of skipper Michael Clarke to the Australian lineup for the first time in two months since he underwent surgery on his right hamstring.
"Both teams, I'm sure are desperate to win," McCullum said. "I think midway through a tournament to get a significant victory over a very strong team is a huge confidence-booster."