Peter Wright produced a vintage display to capture his fourth individual major crown at the European Championship, thrashing James Wade 11-4 to reclaim his world No 2 spot and cap off a wonderful weekend of action in Oberhausen.
The world champion consistently averaged in excess of 100 throughout the weekend and although Wade provided resistance in the early stages, ‘Snakebite’ reeled off the final five legs without reply to prevail with a 104.33 average, six 180’s and a 42% checkout success rate.
Wright – who has already scooped World Championship and Masters titles in 2020 – pocketed the £120,000 top prize courtesy of a dominant display in Germany, to deny 2018 champion Wade his second European Championship triumph in three years.
However, despite the disappointing conclusion, it was a positive weekend for Wade, who returns to the world’s top eight following his exploits, having reached his first televised final since January 2019.
Wright, who will be targeting the world No 1 berth in 2021, made an electrifying start to Sunday’s showpiece, following up successive 13-darters with a 15-dart hold to establish an early 3-0 cushion.
Wade opened his account after following up a maximum with a vital 64 finish, but this did little to dampen Wright’s charge, as the Scot regained his three-leg buffer courtesy of a clinical 96 checkout.
The interval appeared to quash Snakebite’s momentum as Wade followed up a scrappy hold by conjuring up a 121 outshot on the bull to reduce the arrears to 4-3, although he was unable to restore parity at four apiece after missing tops for a 120 combination.
‘The Machine’ continued to battle – converting a clinical two-dart 80 combination in response to Wright’s tidy 13-dart hold in leg nine, but the world champion upped the ante in sensational style following the second intermission.
The 50-year-old crashed in six perfect darts in consecutive legs and whilst he was unable to achieve perfection, 11 and 12-dart legs provided plenty of consolation as he extended his cushion to 8-4, and nine-time major winner Wade was unable to recover.
The left-hander squandered opportunities to stop the rot in leg 13, before Wright raced to glory in spectacular fashion, following up an eye-catching 143 checkout with a brilliant 125 kill on tops moments later, to capture his third major success of the season.
Wright averaged above 102 in all five of his games and he appeared revitalised having opted not to compete in the recent two European Tour events – which is uncharacteristic for someone renowned for being an ever-present on the Pro Tour circuit.
The world champion conceded he’d fallen slightly out of love with the game over recent weeks due to the current sterile playing conditions, but this will certainly have fuelled his hunger ahead of what promises to be a hectic climax to the 2020 calendar.
It wasn’t all plain-sailing for Wright however. He faced a stern examination in his last four tussle, beating Jonny Clayton 11-8 in a high-quality affair. Both men averaged over 100 and fired in 15 maximums between them, but a crucial miscount from ‘The Ferret’ in the latter stages proved costly.
The Welshman led 7-5 at one stage, only for the world champion to clinch six of the last seven legs to prevail. Nevertheless, Clayton spurned the opportunity to level in leg 18, taking out 101 when he required 111, as he was denied a place in his second major televised final.
Wade secured his place in the final by overcoming Devon Petersen in an enthralling last-leg decider. Petersen had the edge in terms of the averages, maximums and checkout percentage, but Wade’s trademark composure was invaluable as he held his nerve to sink the in-form South African.
The pendulum swung throughout, but after Petersen established an 8-6 advantage, Wade reeled off four consecutive legs – featuring a 158 finish – to seal control. ‘The African Warrior’ fired in his ninth 180 en route to forcing a decider, only to see Wade prevail with a typically clinical 15-dart kill.
2020 Unibet European Championship
König Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen
Sunday November 1
James Wade 11-10 Devon Petersen
Peter Wright 11-8 Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright 11-4 James Wade