Gerwyn Price retained his world No 1 spot with a series of imperious displays in Sunday’s Players Championship event, posting six consecutive ton-plus averages before succumbing to Joe Cullen in the semi-finals.
‘The Iceman’ came into the weekend’s Players Championship double-header with a slender £5,500 lead over world champion Peter Wright on the PDC Order of Merit, and that cushion became even more precarious following an opening-round exit to Keegan Brown on Saturday.
Price’s surprise defeat in the early stages of Players Championship 3 presented Wright with an opportunity to become the new world No 1 if he claimed the £12,000 top prize on Saturday, although a second-round defeat to Max Hopp curtailed that prospect.
‘Snakebite’ is poised to usurp Price at the summit in the coming months, although the Welshman ensured Wright’s ascension was delayed, delivering his best performance of the new season in Players Championship 4.
The 2021 world champion kicked off his campaign with a 6-3 success over his compatriot Jim Williams, avenging his defeat to ‘The Quiff’ last weekend. Price averaged 100.4 to topple the former BDO world finalist, before producing an astonishing display in his second-round tie against Krzysztof Kciuk.
Price averaged 114.75, landed seven 180s and converted 60% of his attempts at double to close out a comprehensive 6-2 win over the beleaguered Pole, registering winning legs of 15, 15, 12, 11, 11 and 13 darts.
The world No 1 then averaged 103 to account for Martin Lukeman and Ryan Meikle, whitewashing the latter to set up an intriguing last eight showdown against UK Open runner-up Luke Humphries, who triumphed in the opening Players Championship event of 2022.
‘Cool Hand’ contributed to a classic, averaging 102.61 and boasting a 100% success rate on the outer ring, yet it still wasn’t enough, as Price fired in a 14-darter in a thrilling last-leg to prevail with a 104.59 average – his fifth 100+ of the afternoon.
Since the Darts Connect system was introduced, no player has ever claimed a Pro Tour title with seven successive ton-plus averages, although the 36-year-old was threatening to break new ground, establishing a 4-2 lead against Cullen with a 110 average.
However, having recovered from 5-2 adrift to defeat Price in Thursday’s Premier League semi-final in Liverpool, ‘The Rockstar’ produced another stirring fightback less than 72 hours later, winning five of the final six legs to record a 7-5 victory despite Price averaging in three figures yet again.
Cullen went on to complete a magnificent double following his Players Championship 3 success, demolishing Dimitri Van den Bergh 8-1 in Sunday’s showpiece to claim his third PDC title of 2022, in just the fifth event of the season.
Despite being denied a first PDC title since his third Grand Slam triumph in November, Price will take great confidence from his exploits in Wigan, boasting a 104.45 tournament average across Sunday’s action.
The Welshman has also extended his lead over Wright to £13,500 on the Order of Merit, after the two-time world champion was condemned to a chastening 6-0 defeat against Ryan Joyce in round three.
Price returns to action on Night Three of the Premier League in Belfast when he opens up proceedings against World Championship runner-up Michael Smith, with both men looking to ignite their respective campaigns.
Image Credit: Taylor Lanning/PDC