Gerwyn Price and Peter Wright secured their first Pro Tour titles of 2020 on a thrilling weekend of Players Championship action in Wigan, as Michael van Gerwen’s wait for a first title of the new decade continues.
The world number one landed a nine-darter and defeated the likes of Gary Anderson, James Wade and Krzysztof Ratajski to reach Sunday’s final, although he was denied by Price in a thrilling affair, as the Welshman closed out just his second career victory over MvG.
Price was beaten in an extraordinary final by Peter Wright on Saturday, only to go one better against the three-time world champion. Van Gerwen -who lost to Ryan Searle in the Players Championship 3 final, was sat on 36 for the match only to see Price convert a nerveless 94 kill to prevail.
The Welshman started strongly to establish a 4-1 cushion, only to see Van Gerwen win three of the next four legs to reduce the arrears to 5-4. Price restored his three-leg buffer to lead 7-4 and move to the cusp of victory, only for the Dutchman to launch a stirring fightback.
Van Gerwen reeled off three consecutive legs in 11, 15 and 11 darts to restore parity at seven apiece and force a decider, where he was poised on 36 for victory. Nevertheless, Price demonstrated tremendous resolve to take out 94 and land his tenth PDC title in the process.
The world number three had won just 1 of his previous 21 meetings against MvG, but he kept his cool magnificently to become the sixth different winner from six Players Championship event so far in 2020, averaging 102.50 in a pulsating encounter.
Price eased past Ryan Murray in his opener, before surviving multiple match darts to edge out Luke Woodhouse in round two. The 34-year-old then averaged 101 in his 6-3 win over Simon Stevenson in the third round.
The Premier League star secured his semi-final berth with consecutive 6-4 wins over Jamie Hughes and Steve Beaton, before sweeping aside former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting in the last four, averaging 102.40 to close out a 7-3 success against ‘The Bullet’.
Remarkably, Van Gerwen will enter March without a PDC title for the first time since 2011, although the signs suggest that he’s growing more confident with his new darts on a game-by-game basis and it feels inevitable that he’ll open his account in the coming weeks.
The Dutchman fired in his first nine-darter of the season in his last 16 clash against Cristo Reyes, marking the 11th perfect leg registered on the PDC circuit this year, following Steve Lennon’s nine-darter against Kai Fan Leung on Saturday.
However, Wright stole the headlines on Saturday with some mesmerising displays at the Robin Park Tennis Centre. The world champion boasted a staggering tournament average of 106.07 and almost broke his own broadcast record average earlier in the afternoon.
Having kicked off proceedings with a 106 average and a 6-2 win over Darren Webster, Wright missed one dart at tops to break his own broadcast record in round two, but he still posted an astonishing 120.20 average in a sensational whitewash victory over Adrian Gray.
The Scot fired in two more ton-plus averages en route to emphatic wins over Ryan Joyce and Scott Mitchell, before battling past three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant in the quarter-finals – the solitary match in which he failed to register a 100+ average.
‘Snakebite’ then edged a high-quality semi-final contest against Devon Petersen, with ‘The African Warrior’ whitewashing Stephen Bunting and averaging 105 and 111 in wins over Dimitri Van den Bergh and Niels Zonneveld to reach the last four.
This set up a tantalising final against Price, in a preview of their impending Premier League clash in Dublin on Thursday. The pair produced an exhibition of sheer brilliance, averaging over 109 in arguably the greatest final ever seen since the live streaming was introduced on the Pro Tour.
The opening 13 legs all remarkably went with throw, although with Price poised on tops to force a dramatic decider, the world number two conjured up a magical 170 checkout to scoop the £10,000 top prize and his third triumph of 2020.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC