There’s a first time for everything. That’s perhaps never been more true for Peter Wright. Not only is this his first world title, but it is also the first time ever that he has defeated world number one and now dethroned world champion Michael van Gerwen in a TV final.
I’m not sure what the point was that Peter Wright realised that a PDC World Championship title was his to lose. Was it when he raced into a 2-0 lead? Was it when he won the deciding leg of the eighth set, or the ninth, when MvG had two darts for 4-5 and a clearer path to a comeback? Or perhaps it took him to the very last leg, as he went 140, 123, 81, 137 to leave himself 20 for the crown itself? After all the heartbreak of previous encounters with ‘Mighty Mike’ and the thought that maybe, just maybe this moment would never come, you wouldn’t blame him.
As much as this match might be viewed through the lens of the end of a run for van Gerwen or the deposition of the three-time champion from his seat, this was all about Peter Wright. MvG averaged 102, usually unstoppable, but Wright, with 11 180s and 48 130+ scores across 42 legs just did not falter under the pressure of the occasion. The resignation on the world number one’s face at the end of the match summed up the display fairly well.
The end of the monkey on his back?
It’s always hard, in the heat of a World final, to really assess the long-term impact of what has occurred. For now, Wright will bask in the glory of his victory, a title he has fought so incredibly hard for over recent years. Then, the Masters and the Premier League will jolt the 2020 season into action, and the picture will become clearer. But the next time that TV final against MvG comes for Snakebite, or any major clash for that matter, surely the thought that he has done it on the biggest stage of all will ease any qualms or finishing line jitters that have troubled him so much in the past.
3rd unsuccessful title defence for MvG
I’m sure this loss won’t trouble van Gerwen for too long. No doubt it’ll be the inspiration for his 2020 preparation, and the image that drives him onto more success next season. There is now an increasing number of players who have the mettle to conquer the imperious world number one on the big stage. And as we saw after the 2015 and 2016 World Championship losses, it could lead to the Dutchman causing tyranny on the tour – the 2016 season remains one of the most impressive years for any sportsperson in history and is enough to invoke fear in any arrow smith. When others go high, MvG can go higher. So don’t expect this to cause him to wallow in his defeat.
More than anything, this was a final that the event deserved. At times, we have seen some incredible darts and incredible tension. And Wright’s story – one not just of hard work but plenty of downs as well as the ups – is enough to make any darts fan be delighted at his win tonight.
Image Credits: PDC