Clinical Price secures second title of the season

Gerwyn Price celebrated St David’s Day in style, clinching his second PDC title of 2020 with an 8-3 victory over his Premier League rival Michael Smith to scoop the inaugural Belgian Darts Championship title in Hasselt.

The Welshman has been in sparkling form over recent weeks, reaching back-to-back Pro Tour finals in Wigan last weekend and securing his first Premier League win of the season against world champion Peter Wright in Dublin last Thursday.

The 34-year-old maintained his fine form in Belgium, dropping just ten legs across the entire tournament to claim his third European Tour title and his eleventh PDC crown, pocketing the £25,000 top prize in the process.

The reigning Grand Slam champion has firmly established himself within the world’s elite over the last 12 months and there’s a compelling case to suggest that he’s the best player in world darts on current form, having reached finals in five of his last ten ranking events.

Price and Smith collided on Night Two of the Premier League in Nottingham just over a fortnight ago, as the world number three recovered from 6-2 down to salvage a point against a rampant Smith, although it was Price who monopolised proceedings on Sunday evening.

Smith drew first blood in Sunday’s showpiece with a confident 14-dart hold, only for Price to follow up his first maximum with an 81 kill for a 12-dart riposte. ‘Bully Boy’ regained the lead with an effortless two-dart 85 combination, before the former Rugby star began to dominate.

Smith carved out darts at double in three of the next four legs, although he was unable to replicate the clinical finishing that had seen him topple Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright en route to reaching the final.

‘The Iceman’ levelled in a scrappy fourth leg via double six, before a delightful 112 finish saw him break Smith’s throw, after the St Helen’s star had squandered two darts at tops for a fifth consecutive hold.

Price extended his buffer with a 14-dart hold in leg six, before moving 5-2 ahead via his trusted tops after Smith wired the bullseye for an 86 checkout. The 34-year-old was starting to dominate and he continued the procession in leg eight, closing out another 14-dart hold as the pair traded maximums.

Any faint hopes of a Smith revival were effectively quashed in leg nine as Price sank a magnificent 126 checkout to move to the cusp of victory and although he missed the bull for a 122 kill moments later, he followed up his fourth maximum with a 14-dart clincher on tops to complete an 8-3 win.

Price – the only unbeaten player in this year’s Premier League thus far, breezed through to the semi-finals for the loss of just three legs following his dominant 6-1 win over Dutch qualifier Wesley Plaisier on Saturday.

The Iceman’ kicked off Sunday’s action with a whitewash win over Jamie Hughes, averaging 103.30 and registering winning legs of 15, 14, 13, 15, 15 and 15 darts, as ‘Yozza’ was afforded just two darts at double despite averaging over a ton himself.

The Welshman then faced Mensur Suljovic, who wired double 18 for a nine-darter in his last 16 win over Steve West. However, Price punished an off-colour display from the Austrian to close out a convincing 6-2 success with another ton-plus average.

Dirk van Duijvenbode awaited Price in the semi-finals, as the Dutchman defeated Ian White, Jeffrey de Zwaan and Nathan Aspinall to reach his second PDC ranking semi-final in as many weeks, only for his fairy-tale run to be curtailed by the clinical Grand Slam champion.

Van Duijvenbode made an electrifying start, converting a majestic 155 checkout en route to establishing a 3-0 cushion. Nevertheless, Price produced an exhibition of finishing to deny the Dutchman, taking out two 140 checkouts as well as a sumptuous 160 finish to triumph 7-4.

Smith was denied a first PDC title since 2018, although there were plenty of positives to take for the five-time major finalist, who landed his first televised nine-darter during last Thursday’s Premier League action in Dublin.

Having averaged over 103 in thrashing host-nation qualifier Ronny Huybrechts on Saturday, Smith dumped out world number one Michael van Gerwen in a thrilling last-leg decider in Sunday’s opener, taking out 105 to triumph and extend MvG’s title drought.

The world number five continued his red-hot form to dismantle Mervyn King 6-1 in the last eight, averaging 107.85 and crashing in three maximums to set up a semi-final showdown against world champion Wright, who had seen off Danny Noppert and Krzysztof Ratajski earlier in the day.

The pair locked horns in the season-opening Masters final last month, where Smith frittered away multiple opportunities to claim his first major title. He avenged that particular defeat however, averaging 102.04 and piling in four maximums to defeat ‘Snakebite’ 7-5.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Sunday March 1
Afternoon Session

Third Round
Michael Smith 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
Mervyn King 6-3 Martijn Kleermaker
Peter Wright 6-3 Danny Noppert
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Rob Cross
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-4 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 James Wade
Gerwyn Price 6-0 Jamie Hughes
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 Steve West

Evening Session
Quarter-Finals
Michael Smith 6-1 Mervyn King
Peter Wright 6-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-5 Nathan Aspinall 
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Mensur Suljovic

Semi-Finals
Michael Smith 7-5 Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price 7-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode

Final
Gerwyn Price 8-3 Michael Smith

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