For a lot of this World Championship, it has felt like a final of the two Gerwy/ens was nailed on. Where others – Rob Cross, Michael Smith, Daryl Gurney – had fallen, both the number 1 seed Michael van Gerwen and number 3 seed Gerwyn Price had not. But yesterday evening, the Welshman Gerwyn Price put in his worst performance of the event at the worst possible time. On-stage needle and antics made it an uncomfortable watch at times, but Peter Wright, a man who as at times looked deadly in this championship, dismissed one of 2019’s best performers with ease.
‘Snakebite’ has no easy task ahead of him. Muster a performance even better and more consistent than he has managed thus far in the event, beat a man he has failed to in 11 TV finals and then and only then a World crown is his. But MvG has looked far from assured in this event. He has played his B game, maybe even his C game at times, ambling rather than speeding to a 4th PDC World Championship. The set format suggests a rout for the Dutchman is unlikely and the longer Wright can keep winning his sets on throw, whether that’s via a break or by edging van Gerwen in a deciding leg, he has a chance.
Many tonight however will simply feel that if there ever is a time Wright breaks his TV final run of losses against the world number 1, it most certainly won’t be in the biggest game of them all. Michael van Gerwen has gears few in the world of darts can go to and is undoubtedly better than all others at finding them in the most important situations. And as evidenced by all of the defending champion’s media appearances ahead of this final, he is very aware of the mental barriers his opponent faces against him and will no doubt aim to use that to his advantage when the going gets tough in the pair’s second world final against each other.
MvG knows though that isn’t a pushover. He has had games in World Championships where he has wilted against all odds, whether that against Barney in 2016 or Cross in 2018. He is yet, also, to defend a world title successfully, something that could easily end tonight but demonstrates that however dominant one may be, it doesn’t always spell a 100% record. Barring any significantly below-par performances, this should be an interesting final, and will be defined by set-winning and match-defining darts and likely no less.