World number one Michael van Gerwen renews his rivalry with colourful sensation Peter Wright in a mouth-watering second Semi-Final at the World Matchplay on Saturday night.
Both men remain in hot pursuit of a maiden World Matchplay title, and in Wright’s case – a first piece of televised silverware – but the dream must end for one tonight.
Top seed van Gerwen breezed past Benito van de Pas and Jamie Lewis for the loss of just six legs, before surviving a major scare from an inspired Ian White to edge through a 16-13 winner.
The former World Champion boasts the highest tournament average of 104 and is aiming to avenge his defeat to ‘Snakebite’ in last month’s epic Japan Masters Semi-Final.
Wright had previously never progressed beyond the second round hurdle in Blackpool, but now finds himself on the brink of history as he bids to become the first Scottish winner of this title and only the seventh different player to do so since 1994.
The world number five hit the ground running with a 108 average in defeating Kim Huybrechts, before following up with comfortable wins over Andrew Gilding and Gerwyn Price.
Although the pair drew during this season’s Premier League, that narrow 8-7 win in Yokohama was Wright’s first over MVG in a televised event and he will be determined to repeat the dose over a much longer distance here.
They have met 35 times in previous PDC competition since 2009, with van Gerwen having triumphed on 26 of those occasions to Wright’s eight plus one draw.
Infamously, there is no love lost between the two on the big stage, a factor which adds spice to an already fascinating fixture.
Their latest box office battle gets underway at around 9.15pm BST and will be played over the best of 33 legs from the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
The match must be won by two clear legs and will proceed for a maximum of six additional legs before a tie-break leg is required. If the score reaches 19–19 then the 39th leg will be the decider.
Van Gerwen: “It’s going to be an amazing semi-final. He’s had a fantastic season so far but I’ll be the huge favourite and I want to beat him.
“Peter’s going to be a good opponent to play against. He’s a fantastic scorer and a good finisher so I need to make sure that I take advantage of his mistakes.”
Wright: “I’ve been saying that the World Matchplay would be the one for me this year and I’ve got to back my words up and go and do it. I’m in the semi-finals, and who knows what can happen now.
“I always fancy my chances against Michael over any format.”
Live Darts verdict:
The superior scoring power of the Dutchman, coupled with his ability to battle back from behind with an unstoppable surge makes it difficult to look past him making it back-to-back finals in Blackpool.
Although both players have hit 20 maximums apiece so far, MVG has the higher checkout percentage and tournament average and offers additional value on the match win treble.
- Van Gerwen to win and both players to score at least 13 legs @ 13/5
- Van Gerwen to win, hit the most 180s and score the highest checkout @ 11/8
- Van Gerwen to hit the most 180s @ 4/11
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