Gerwyn Price believes the hostility he has received from darting crowds has fast-tracked his development into a world champion, as the Welshman outlines his desire to overhaul Dutch duo Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen in terms of world title wins.
Price became the first Welshman to lift the PDC world title with an emphatic 7-3 victory over Gary Anderson on January 3, which subsequently ended Van Gerwen’s seven-year reign at the summit of world darts.
‘The Iceman’ has enjoyed a remarkable ascent since claiming his maiden televised triumph at the 2018 Grand Slam, which also saw him stun Anderson in a contentious affair.
It was therefore ironic that another high-profile victory over ‘The Flying Scotsman’ saw Price go full circle; capping off the greatest year of his career by scooping the £500,000 top prize to become the 11th man in PDC history to become world No 1.
“It’s a great achievement and something that will be in the record books for ever,” Price told Josh’s Dartistry.
“It is not just about that. It is about me becoming the first world champion for myself. The time I have had over the last couple of years – I just feel really proud of myself to reach the achievements I have, and to do it with all the crowd on my back.
“Michael [van Gerwen] going out early and Peter [Wright] going out early gave me an extra boost to go on and win it, but I was always confident I was going to get to the final.
“I thought I was going to play Michael in the final and I was hoping for that, I was hoping to beat him and take the no 1 spot off him as well.”
Price has been cast as the sport’s pantomime villain since his Grand Slam breakthrough and although he has coped admirably with such acrimony, he hopes his Alexandra Palace success may change the perception of him for the better.
It’s easy to forget that the Welshman is still a relative newcomer to the sport, having claimed his PDC Tour Card at Qualifying School in 2014.
However, the 35-year-old believes the animosity he’s been subjected to from the boo-boys has strengthened his resolve and fast-tracked his development into the premier player on the planet.
“I never thought I would get to world No 1 or win the Worlds this soon. I definitely thought this would be possible some time – maybe five, six, seven years further on from now,” Price admitted.
“There’s a part of me that believes the grief I’ve had over the last two-and-half, three years; the crowds have brought my career forward I think, made me a better player, made me concentrate more and moulded me into a stronger player.
“I certainly think that if the crowd had not been the way they were, would I have been as good as I am now? Would I have been world no 1 and world champion? Nobody will ever know, but in my mind, I believe I wouldn’t have won this trophy for another couple of years.”
The question now is what next for The Iceman? Becoming world champion and world No 1 is the pinnacle for any dart player and indeed any sportsman, and Price has achieved both simultaneously.
Despite his initial sense of completion, the Welshman isn’t finished yet. He possesses an unflinching will to win, and he’s bidding to ensure his World Championship success is the catalyst for an era of domination.
“To be honest with you, after I’d won that night, that was it. I was happy if I never won another tournament,” continued the five-time major winner.
“I didn’t care. I had done what I wanted to do. I had won the World Championship, I had become world no 1. What else is there for a dart player to want?
“Two or three days later, you look back and reflect and think: ‘I want to beat Michael now’. He has got three [world titles], I want to get past him. Then Raymond [van Barneveld] has got five, I want to try and get past him.
“The only person I think I will never ever catch is Phil Taylor, but the likes of Barney and Michael and everybody else who has World Championships, that’s my goal to try and get past those and be the person to win the second-most World Championships.
“I want to win the Premier League. I want to win majors that I haven’t won before and I want to try and back up and defend this World Championship.”
That won’t be an easy task, however. Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson are the only players in PDC history to have successfully defended a world title, something the irrepressible Van Gerwen is yet to accomplish.
The prestige of being the world champion and world No 1 also comes with greater scrutiny. For any player occupying a place at the sport’s summit, you are the main target for the chasing pack.
Price has been in contact with 16-time world champion Taylor recently, and ‘The Power’ has warned him that his ‘whole life will change’ as a result of capturing the Sid Waddell Trophy.
Nevertheless, as Price prepares to make his first appearance since being crowned world champion at this weekend’s Masters, he is adamant that he will thrive under the spotlight.
“I think just the way that I play and the way things have been the last couple of years, I think there has been a target on my back, Peter’s back, on everybody’s back.
“I know it’s going to be even bigger now that I’m world champion and world no 1, but when someone plays well against me, I seem to pull out a little bit extra. I prefer those sort of games.
“I prefer it when someone is giving it 100% and hitting ton-plus checkouts and hitting big averages, because it brings the best out of me, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Feature Image: Chris Dean/PDC