Peter Wright was under scrutiny coming into this year’s World Matchplay, after proclaiming pre-tournament that he would complete a World Championship and Matchplay double. The doubters were poised to assemble, but Snakebite let his darts do the talking at the Winter Gardens.
The first part of Wright’s dream equation is now complete, after he produced a series of sublime displays to lift the Phil Taylor Trophy for the first time in his career.
The Scot was relatively untroubled throughout the nine days at the Empress Ballroom, and he only trailed for one leg in the entire tournament – the opening leg of his first-round clash against Danny Noppert.
The world No 2 boasted an extraordinary tournament average of 104.91, and he sealed the deal with a spectacular 18-9 victory over defending champion Dimitri Van den Bergh in Sunday’s showpiece.
The 2020 world champion punished his opponent’s profligacy in the early stages to establish an 8-2 cushion, and although Van den Bergh produced a spirited fightback to reduce the arrears to 12-8, Wright’s superiority on the outer ring saw him close out proceedings in comprehensive fashion.
Sky Sports’ Wayne Mardle described Wright’s performance as virtually flawless, and the statistics backed up that assertion. The 51-year-old averaged 105.9 and fired in ten maximums, but his 58 per cent success rate in the doubling department was the decisive factor.
Having blitzed Michael van Gerwen with a sensational 110.37 average in the semi-finals – the highest semi-final average in World Matchplay history – you would have been forgiven for doubting whether Snakebite could replicate those heroics.
However, he was a man on a mission in Blackpool, and after succumbing to the departing Phil Taylor in the 2017 edition, he grasped his opportunity with both hands against Van den Bergh, to become just the fifth player in PDC history to have won both the Matchplay and the World Championship.
“That one was for Jo [Wright’s wife],” said an emotional Wright. “She’s been through a lot over the last year or so, but she insisted she would be here for the final.
“I’ve backed up what I said to everyone a month back. A lot of players have commented saying I should leave the talking to my darts and that’s what I’ve done.
“I used to watch the World Matchplay as a kid and now my name is on the trophy forever and that’s special. It was amazing to lift that trophy in front of this amazing crowd.
“As soon as I walked on, the crowd were behind me and it was a real goosebumps moment, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.”
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC