Peter Wright produced a brilliant comeback to stun world number one Michael van Gerwen and secure victory in the final of the German Darts Championship, on a dramatic start to the European Tour season at the Halle 39 in Hildesheim on Sunday evening.
Snakebite has enjoyed a dream start to 2017, winning four titles including his maiden televised major at the UK Open earlier this month, and the world number three continued that form to secure the second European Tour title of his career.
Wright’s maiden European crown came at the 2014 European Darts Open, but he suffered three defeats in finals last year, all to Van Gerwen. Nevertheless, Snakebite avenged those losses after winning six of the final seven legs to stun ‘The Green Machine’.
Neither player was at their vintage best, but Wright sensed vulnerability in the Van Gerwen armoury and enjoyed a remarkable surge to secure just his second victory over MvG in twenty attempts. The world number three averaged 95.46, landed three maximums and converted 46% of his attempts at double to scoop the £25,000 winner’s cheque.
Van Gerwen drew first blood in the final after posting an early maximum and a 174, before overcoming double-trouble to pin D10 at the sixth attempt. The Dutchman then doubled his lead moments later, after following up another sublime visit of 174 by hitting D16 for an effortless 11-darter.
The world champion appeared poised to establish a commanding 3-0 cushion after kicking off the leg with his second 180, but he incredibly spurned seven darts at double as Wright halved the deficit via D8. The Scot couldn’t believe his luck and levelled up proceedings in the next leg, by virtue of pegging D16.
Snakebite crashed in his first maximum as he attempted to secure his third straight leg, but Van Gerwen dispatched a regulation 56 checkout to regain the initiative. However, Wright was growing in confidence and restored parity once again after following up his second 180 with a clinical 13-darter via tops.
The tide was beginning to turn and the seventh leg ultimately proved decisive. Snakebite posted his third maximum, before producing a nerveless 120 kill to register a pivotal break of throw. The second seed was beginning to dominate in the scoring stakes and sank D4 for a commanding 14-dart hold to move to within a leg of victory.
Van Gerwen conjured up a majestic visit of 170 as he attempted to stay afloat, but he was unable to take out 71 and Wright duly pounced. Having left himself on 60 after twelve darts, Wright’s first match dart at tops crept into D5, but he regained his composure magnificently to nail D15 and complete a wonderful comeback victory.
Wright began the day by cruising into the last eight with a comprehensive 6-2 victory against a wasteful Stephen Bunting. Snakebite averaged 97.59 and landed five maximums to dismantle the former Lakeside world champion, who was ruthlessly punished for hitting just two of his thirteen attempts at double.
The Scot then sealed his semi-final spot after defeating his Premier League colleague Kim Huybrechts by the same scoreline. The pair are set to meet in Cardiff this Thursday, but Wright secured the early psychological blow in a scrappy affair. Wright averaged a modest 89.06 but capitalised on Huybrechts’ miserly 22% checkout success rate to ease through.
In the last four, Snakebite faced an in-form Gerwyn Price, in a repeat of this month’s UK Open Final. Price had dumped out Kevin Painter and third seed Mensur Suljovic to secure a place in his maiden European Tour semi-final, but ‘The Iceman’ spurned a match dart in a dramatic decider, as Wright sneaked through with a 92.98 average.
Van Gerwen kicked off the day with a convincing 6-3 triumph over Cristo Reyes, in a repeat of their memorable World Championship second-round clash. ‘The Green Machine’ failed to average over 100 for the first time in twenty competitive matches, but still ran out a comfortable victor with a 97.88 average, two maximum and a 33% checkout success rate.
In the last eight, the world number one defeated Ian White by the same scoreline. ‘The Diamond’ averaged almost 105 in dispatching Darren Johnson earlier in the day. However, he was unable to replicate that type of display against a clinical Van Gerwen, who averaged 101.88 and converted 75% of his attempts at double to reach the last four.
MvG faced his compatriot Jelle Klaasen in the semi-finals, after ‘The Cobra’ continued to play through the pain barrier to claim the scalps of Dave Chisnall and Benito van de Pas. Nevertheless, Van Gerwen posted a 104.61 average, crashed in two maximums and missed just one dart at double to prevail 6-1.
Nevertheless, Van Gerwen was unable to clinch the fifteenth European Tour title of his career, as Wright continued his magnificent start to the season. Snakebite had won just one of his last eighteen meetings with ‘Mighty Mike’ and had never previously beaten MvG in a final, but 2017 is proving to be a record-breaking year for the colourful Scot.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
HappyBet German Darts Championship
Sunday March 26
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Cristo Reyes
Ian White 6-2 Darren Johnson
Jelle Klaasen 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Benito van de Pas 6-0 Jan Dekker
Peter Wright 6-2 Stephen Bunting
Kim Huybrechts 6-4 Alan Norris
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Kevin Painter
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 Joe Cullen
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Ian White
Jelle Klaasen 6-4 Benito van de Pas
Peter Wright 6-2 Kim Huybrechts
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Mensur Suljovic
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Jelle Klaasen
Peter Wright 6-5 Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright 6-3 Michael van Gerwen