Two of darts’ biggest box office stars face off for the right to reach the 2019/20 World Championship final as…
Two of darts’ biggest box office stars face off for the right to reach the 2019/20 World Championship final as third seed Gerwyn Price faces seventh seed Peter Wright at Alexandra Palace on Monday.
Both players are yet to clinch the sport’s most prestigious prize but will be desperate to take a major step towards etching their name into the darting history books as they lock horns in a repeat of last month’s Grand Slam final.
Price has banished his below-par record in this competition with a ground-breaking run to the Semi-Finals to remain on course for a dream climax to an outstanding season.
The Welshman had lost at the Last 64 stage in four of his previous five appearances at Ally Pally, with a Last 16 berth in 2017 his best effort, but has recovered from a Second Round scare to hit the ground running.
The Grand Slam champion was thanking his lucky stars for a fatal miscount from William O’Connor as he snatched victory in the deciding set in Round Two before whitewashing John Henderson 4-0 with a 104 average and defeating Simon Whitlock 4-2 in the Last 16.
He then swept aside three-time BDO World Champion Glen Durrant 5-1 in Sunday’s Quarter-Finals with a 99.7 average, leaving more in the locker as the format and stakes continue to rise.
Price has proved nothing short of a phenomenon this year, backing up his maiden major title by successfully retaining the Grand Slam last month, while also finishing runner-up in the European Championship and Players Championship Finals.
Wright, meanwhile, has had a contrasting season up to this stage and is appearing in only his second major ranking Semi-Final of 2019, having enjoyed his best results in invitational competition.
World Cup winner alongside Gary Anderson for Scotland in June, Wright also picked up the German Masters title, as well as finishing runner-up in the Champions League and Grand Slam.
The flamboyant Scot will be eyeing revenge for a crushing 16-6 defeat to Price in that Grand Slam final, prior to which he had won 13 of their 18 encounters.
Wright has done it the hard way in reaching the Last Four, stumbling past Filipino qualifier Noel Malicdem in a dramatic tie break before eventually shaking off Japan’s Seigo Asada 4-2 after changing his darts midway through the match.
He then fended off a spirited fightback from Jeffrey de Zwaan from 3-0 down to three apiece by holding his nerve to prevail in another tense tie break before averaging 105.8 in a blistering display to defeat Luke Humphries 5-3.
Runner-up here in 2014, ‘Snakebite’ has outperformed Price across the board in terms of their tournament stats, boasting a higher average (98.25 to Price’s 96.18), more 180s (41-21) and a higher finishing rate (48 per cent to 44 per cent).
The first competitive meeting between the two came in this competition back in 2014 when Wright enjoyed a straight sets win in Round One, but it’s Price who has had the better of their recent fixtures, winning four of the last five.
The opening Semi-Final gets underway from 7.15pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 sets, best of five legs per set.
A tie-break will be in operation, where the final set must be won by two clear legs. If the score reaches 5-5, the 11th leg will be sudden-death.
Either defending champion Michael van Gerwen or world number 12 and UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall will await the winner in the final on New Year’s Day.
Price: “I think Peter will be more worried about me than I will be about him.
“I’m really confident about the Semi-Final – he’ll be lucky to win a set!
“After the way I played in the Grand Slam I don’t think he wants to play me again, hopefully I can bring that game again and smash him off the board!
Wright: “I’ve got the Semis and Final to go, and the longer the format goes, I’m just going to be favourite.
“I need to be much more consistent to go all the way but I feel really good and when I feel this good I can win anything.”