2020 World Champion Peter Wright added the World Matchplay’s Phil Taylor Trophy to his cabinet on Sunday evening when he defeated Dimitri Van den Bergh 18-9. In a match which saw by far the week’s best two competitors face off, as Sky Sports’ John Part rightly summarised, Peter Wright ended the Belgian’s perfect, 9-0 Matchplay record as he averaged just shy of 106 to handily dismiss Dimitri. The two have developed a good friendship following Van den Bergh’s lodging with Wright, and Van den Bergh had justified his 2020 title with an excellent run to the final in front of the Blackpool crowd, but he didn’t have enough to overcome Wright.
The biggest blows to Van den Bergh’s chances of a title defence were dealt early when Wright cruised to a 4-1 lead at the first interval before extending this to 8-2 by the second break. The beauty, however, of the long Matchplay format is that players can play themselves into form, and after 10 legs on the ropes, Dimi rolled off 3 of the next 5 legs to bring the scoreline to 10-5. The two were pretty evenly matched by this point with DVdB overcoming shakiness on the doubles to reduce the deficit to 4 legs by the next interval with proceedings at 12-8. It was in the next period of the match that Dimitri’s loose grip on the game totally slipped as Peter Wright reeled off 5 consecutive legs in 73 darts in a high-scoring few games. This took him within one of victory, and although the defending champion returned to the oche to get another leg on the board, ‘Snakebite’ did the business in the next leg to win his first World Matchplay.
Wright apart from the rest
You cannot argue that Peter Wright was not a very deserving World Matchplay champion, and after setting out his stall firmly ahead of his week by the sea in Blackpool, he delivered the goods. It is his fifth PDC major title, six if you include the World Cup, and leaves him with just the Grand Prix of the prestigious ‘World’ events left to win. His eyes may indeed be on a second World Championship title however and if he could repeat his form at this World Matchplay it may well become a reality. In four of his five matches, he averaged over 100, including his record-breaking performance (on two counts – highest World Matchplay semi-final average and his highest against MvG) against Michael van Gerwen in the semi-final. He was truly firing on all cylinders, and showed his very best self on the oche.
Strong defence from Dimitri
Dimitri won the 2020 World Matchplay in far from ideal circumstances but he will have no doubt wanted to prove it was not a one-off with a spirited defence in Blackpool. And he did just that in a far from easy draw where he had to defeat the number 1 seed Gerwyn Price and in-form Krzysztof Ratajski. Most would agree another major title is not far away and he will build on the experience this week of reaching the Matchplay final in front of a raucous Blackpool crowd.
A fabulous week in Blackpool
The World Matchplay definitely lived up to expectations and was packed with excellent matches like Michael Smith’s tussle with Jose de Sousa and the Wright-MvG semi-final. The runs of ‘The Polish Eagle’ Ratajski and Callan Rydz were excellent to see too. But more than anything, the return of full crowds at darts events for the first time in well over a year was something which everyone could get behind. It sets up the culmination of 2021 very nicely indeed.
The arraz will return on the 2nd August with the Super Series of Players Championship events, with TV action returning in September with the World Cup.
Image Credits: PDC