Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright: World Darts Championship 2020 Final preview – MVG and Snakebite vie to be king of the palace

Jamie Shaw in PDC World Darts Championship 01 Jan 2020
Who will lift the Sid Waddell Trophy? (Photos by Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright resume their rivalry in darts’ show-piece fixture as they face off for the right to be crowned 2020 World Champion at Alexandra Palace on New Year’s Day.

A repeat of the 2014 final sees the world number one looking to continue his crushing record over ‘Snakebite’ in televised finals and retain the William Hill World Championship title for the first time.

Wright, meanwhile, is bidding to secure his first world title for what would be only his second major triumph, having fallen short in five major ranked finals, as well as the Premier League, Champions League and World Series Finals at the hands of his Dutch nemesis.

Van Gerwen has upheld his ruthless record in the sport’s show-piece, winning through to a fifth final in his last eight appearances at Ally Pally, with his 7-4 triumph over Wright in the 2014 final marking the fulfillment of his darting destiny.

Victory here would see ‘Mighty Mike’ become the fourth player to successfully defend this title, behind Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson, and would mark a 55th career televised success.

The reigning Premier League and World Grand Prix champion dropped just one set in seeing off Jelle Klaasen (3-1), Ricky Evans (4-0) and Stephen Bunting (4-0) en route to the Quarter-Finals, before recovering from a slow start to dispatch Lithuanian underdog Darius Labanauskas 5-2.

He then fended off the challenge of UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall with a 6-3 win in the Last Four, recording his third 96 average of the tournament.

By his own admission, Van Gerwen has not been at his vintage best for the majority of the competition so far, but will look to peak at the perfect time on the first and biggest occasion of the year.

Wright recovered from a series of shaky performances in the early rounds to raise his level considerably and has looked more assured as each round has progressed.

The colourful Scot stumbled past Filipino qualifier Noel Malicdem in a dramatic tie break before eventually shaking off Japan’s Seigo Asada 4-2.

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.

The Semi-Final saw ‘Snakebite’ deny Gerwyn Price a first appearance in a world final by wrapping up a 6-3 victory in a feisty encounter with 16 maximums along the way.

Wright has been relentless on the treble 20 since switching his darts midway through his Third Round match, and 15 more 180s would see him eclipse Gary Anderson’s record of 71 in the 2016/17 event.

The pair have met an incredible 78 times in PDC competition, with MVG having dominated proceedings with 59 victories to Wright’s 17, in addition to two Premier League draws.

Along with the 2014 world final, other notable show-downs include the 2017 Premier League final, in which Wright squandered six match darts, one of his nine defeats to the Dutchman in televised finals.

The 2020 World Championship final gets underway from 7.15pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 13 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.

The winner will scoop a staggering £500,000 top prize and the coveted Sid Waddell Trophy, with the runner-up collecting £200,000.

BET ON & WATCH VAN GERWEN vs WRIGHT STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Player’s View

Van Gerwen: “I will have to improve that for the final.

“Most of the time Peter plays me he blows up and misses darts at double and that’s a good thing for myself.

“I hope I can play a bit better than I have been doing so far in this tournament and I’m looking forward to the final.

“I think he’s more scared of me than I am of him.”

Wright: “I’m older and wiser than I was six years ago, I didn’t feel ready to be World Champion then but I do now.

“There’s no mental block against Michael, even though I should’ve beaten him in a few finals.

“I told him a few weeks ago that we would meet in the final of the World Championship and it’s come true.

“I’m not thinking too much about what it would mean to be World Champion, I’m just going to go up there and play my game like I have been doing all tournament and we’ll see who wins.”