WACKY Ian White is adamant he can be a World Champion…and then take the trophy off stage in a CARRIER BAG!
The Stoke star has been one of the most consistent stars on the oche and simply one of the best in the world in the Pro Tours. Diamond, 49, finally shattered his big stage quarter-final hoodoo last December by reaching the Players Championship last four.
But the joker in the PDC pack would definitely deliver a unique winning ceremony at the Ally Pally with another of his bag for laugh pranks.He said: “The carrier bag thing started when Gary Anderson beat me in one final. Years ago they used to interview the winner and runner-up, now they don’t bother.
“My era was Morecambe and Wise…
it was like their sketch of Eric walking off at the end of the show.“
So when Gary was getting interviewed, at the end I walked away in the background with my stuff in a carrier bag and I said ‘I’m going now, ta-ra’! “After that, the same thing happened in another tournament with James Wade and I walked past with a wheelie bin shouting ‘any empties?’
“So what I’ll do at the Ally Pally is win the World Championship and walk off stage with it in a carrier bag!”
White is undoubtedly one of the most popular players on the circuit. He is practice partners with Michael Smith and close pals with Adrian Lewis, Gary Anderson, James Wade and Ryan Harrington, they all share a table on the ProTour circuit.
He believes that table can produce more trophies, adding: “I can be World Champion, definitely. I’m playing well. I’m working on a few bits but I should be OK.
“I’m knocking on the door at the moment and I just need one good tournament. I’m so close. “I’m a good character at exhibitions and on Twitter, everyone sees how much fun I am.
But when I’m up on stage I’m up there to do a job. I don’t jump around the stage. I might give it large if I win the game, that’s the extent of it though.“I know people went on about my quarter-final thing but at the end of the day I’ve got the best job in the world.“ “I enjoy what I’m doing and it’s paying for me. I can’t knock it” .
“A lot of the people who criticise you on social media would love to be in my position. I do read it. And people are entitled to their opinions and we’ve got to watch what we say being in this spotlight. So I just sing on Twitter instead. That’s who I am!
“I think if I give up this job I going to dress up as a clown and entertain kids, that’s something I could be very good at.“
I practice with Michael Smith and we are great pals. He’s going to be one top dart player in years to come.“ “We all know we can do it, every player does. When we are on form, we can beat anyone. But every single player can do that in the practice room. It’s just timing and producing it when you need to.“I think we’ve all got the talent, it’s just whether it comes out on the day.“It would be lovely to get to play Michael in a final.
But there a few of us as friends, Adrian and Gary. We have a good table and all sit together on the Pro Tour. Us four plus James, Ryan. We are all playing well.“We’re a bit of a team on that table. It’s a hard tour all year so if you can make it enjoyable, it definitely makes a difference. “We spend a lot of time together, every weekend almost. It’s nice to have a great atmosphere.”
Darts World’s regular look at those players whose career or contribution to the sport of darts may have been overlooked, under-credited or faded with time.
In February 2010, Mark “Mile High” Hylton embarked on what was to be a brief, but highly significant, escapade into the world of PDC darts. An airline cabin manager for 15 years, Hylton quit at the age of 42 to become a full-time arrowsmith. A majestic take-off was followed by a turbulent spell cruising at altitude, before a steep descent took him away from our view.
Born and raised in Staffordshire, Mark Hylton had been a familiar name in amateur darts for quite some time, including a notable television appearance at the the 2007 UK Open, before he decided to turn professional. His first few months on the tour proved a steep learning curve, but he was soon to rise rapidly through the PDC Order of Merit.
In early 2010, Hylton was playing superbly behind the scenes, cleaning up in non-professional events all over the UK. His management and coaching team decided to fund trips to Australia and Canada that summer to see if their hunch was right that he could compete with the best in the game. Hylton responded with a dazzling run to the final of the PDC Australian Open in Sydney, where he was defeated 6-3 by Dennis Priestley. The prize money, £3,000, ensured he would qualify for the 2011 World Championships.
Hylton’s success continued with a string of very consistent results on the PDC Pro Tour, resulting in qualification for the lucrative Grand Slam of Darts. Despite not progressing from the group stage, the experience of such a huge, televised event was not wasted on Hylton, who was confident of a good showing at the Alexandra Palace.
Hylton and his team prepared meticulously for the 2011 World Championship. He played in all conditions and as often as possible, including on borrowed stages with friends acting as officials. When Hylton drew the legendary Steve Beaton in the first round, practice partners were hand-picked to try and mirror Beaton’s style and pace. Likely second and third round opponents were also calculated.
The venue was scouted, the weather anticipated (which was extreme) and complications allowed for. Despite some early nerves, and the silky skills of his opponent, the vigorous preparation paid off as Hylton ran out a 3-2 winner in a tense final set, where he held his nerve well. Hylton’s reward was a second round date with former PDC world number one, Colin Lloyd.
During the days before the match, Team Hylton again prepared diligently. Their man was less nervous than previously and was given these simple instructions by his coach:
“you are the best kept secret in world darts, now go and show these people why”
Despite Lloyd edging in to a narrow lead in the fifth set, Hylton reeled off a remarkable 6 legs in a row to win 4-2 at a canter. By the end of the game Lloyd was shaking his head in disbelief as Hylton averaged over 115 in his purple patch and became the event’s leading 180 hitter.
Sadly, Hylton could not produce a similar level in his last-16 match against welshman Mark Webster who defeated Hylton 4-1 on his way to a run to the semi-finals. Despite this, Hylton had served notice that he was a player to be taken seriously. He was awarded the PDC’s New Player of the Year award, a lucrative dart sponsorship and went on to achieve success in more major events in 2011, reaching the quarter-finals of the UK Open and the Grand Prix, rising to number 32 in the world in the process. He also frightened the life out of Phil Taylor in a thrilling 10-8 defeat at the World Matchplay in Blackpool.
Although Hylton has slipped from view since those halcyon days, his efforts should not be forgotten. To become a professional at 42 with no top flight experience, and to hit the heights he did, was remarkable. Indeed, the vapour-trail Hylton left guided many. You don’t need to be a big name to win big.
Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright will meet in the final of the 2019/20 William Hill World Darts Championship after defeating Nathan Aspinall and Gerwyn Price respectively on Monday at London’s Alexandra Palace.
Reigning champion Van Gerwen and former runner-up Wright both claimed 6-3 wins to set up a repeat of the 2013/14 showdown, which Van Gerwen won 7-4 to lift the first of his three World Championship titles.
Darts’ biggest event will reach its climax on New Year’s Day as Van Gerwen and Wright go head-to-head for the coveted Sid Waddell Trophy and the £500,000 winner’s prize.
Semi-finals night saw Van Gerwen make it through to his fourth World Championship final by shrugging off the challenge of Aspinall, who was making his second successive last four appearance.
The deciding leg of the opening set saw Van Gerwen produce a 14-dart break of throw, only for Aspinall to hit straight back with a nerve-settling 124 checkout to break throw on his way to winning the second set 3-1 to level.
Three visits without a treble cost Aspinall in the set three decider as Van Gerwen took out 48 to regain the lead in sets, but once again Aspinall fought back with a 110 checkout to win the deciding leg of the fourth set to level once more at 2-2.
After Aspinall missed a dart at double top to go 3-2 up, Van Gerwen showed his ruthless edge to take out 25 in two darts for a 3-2 lead, and then pressed home the advantage by winning the sixth set without conceding a leg for a 4-2 advantage.
The response was strong from Aspinall, who won the seventh set 3-0 to go within a set once again, but he was unable to earn himself a shot at double in the deciding leg of set eight as Van Gerwen took out 68 in two darts to move 5-3 up.
There was to be no remarkable comeback from Aspinall, as Van Gerwen won the ninth and final set 3-1, sealing the deal on double ten to continue his quest for a fourth World Championship crown.
“Every time I had to play well I did it, so I can’t really complain about how I played,” said Van Gerwen, who will be hoping to retain the World Championship title for the first time.
“I had too many bad scores and I know I can do better, so 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 made it through to his second World Championship final with a dominant 6-3 win over world number three Price in a feisty affair.
Competing in his third World Championship semi-final, Wright outplayed Price in every department to reach the final for a second time, hitting seven more 180s and missing fewer double attempts than his Welsh opponent.
The opening set went to a deciding leg, which Wright won in 11 darts, before the Scottish World Cup winner’s flying start continued as he landed a 131 in the opening leg of set two.
However, Price typically showed resilience to win the third set despite a near 12 point-gap in the averages, before set three saw the Welshman take out 100, his only ton-plus finish of the match, to go 2-1 up in sets.
Wright responded with a pair of 13-dart legs on his way to winning set four, before an 81 checkout saw Wright win the set five decider to regain the lead in sets at 3-2.
Price won three consecutive legs to win set six and level the contest, but that proved to be the two-time Grand Slam champion’s final moment of success in the contest.
A 15-dart leg from Wright saw him win the seventh set decider to go 4-3 in front, before doubling his advantage by taking the eighth set 3-1.
Wright struck his 57th 180 of the tournament in the ninth set, and after Price missed two darts at double to make it 5-4, Wright found the winning double at the tenth attempt to book his place in his second World Championship final, six years on from his first.
“Tonight I was missing doubles at crucial times and kept letting him in but thankfully I stopped giving him chances in the end,” said Wright, who needs 15 more 180s to beat Gary Anderson’s record of 71 180s at the 2016/17 World Championship.
“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.”
The William Hill World Darts Championship Final will be broadcast live on the Sky Sports Darts channel and through NOW TV in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.
Monday December 30 (1900 GMT) Semi-Finals Peter Wright 6-3 Gerwyn Price Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Nathan Aspinall
Wednesday January 1 (1900 GMT) Final Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
William Hill match winner odds Michael Van Gerwen – 4/11 Peter Wright – 11/5
In the days before this years’, William Hill PDC, World Championship we asked a group of our friends and writers to offer their opinions on the likely outcome. Each was asked to choose a title favourite, a dark horse for the crown and an outsider likely to do some damage. So how are they doing so far?
The Coach – Picked MVG for the title and this seems to have proven a safe bet. However Coach’s other picks have proven less insightful. Ian White bowed out early and Lourence Ilagan was unlucky in his first round clash with Reyes. So 1 out of 3 at the Qtr final stage for ‘Coach’. Must try harder!
JR Lott – JR had a good record for the winners of majors in 2019, especially those not favoured at the star. However his three picks for the Worlds have bombed out before the Qtr finals. JR thought that Gary Anderson might play himself into very good shape and benefit from a long event. This thought applied to Adrian Lewis as well both played very well at times and were defeated in very high quality tough matches. Krystof Ratajadski did do some damage and had his best Ally Pally event so far. So its a case of close but no cigar for JR!
The Wizard – Colin Osborne showed himself to be still in touch with the elite game and has his title pick still in the draw. He was of the view that Gerwyn Price would triumph due to his current form and increasing mental toughness. His darl horse also provided a decent run. Chris Dobey ended Fallon Sherrocks superb run and made the last 16. The Wizards’ choice of an outsider to do damge was a bit of a damp squib, Gabriel Clemens did not fire this year. Our Wizard’s Wizdom will be refered to again in the coming year!
The Manufacturer – Despite all the inside knowledge possessed by those in the industry picking winners and losers is still tough. Gerwyn Price is providing the only high-point for out manufacturing expert. His outsider Jamie Hughes fell at an early fence as did his dark horse Rob Cross. However one in three seems to be about the average so far among our chosen tipsters.
Official View – Our resident official, John Fowler, is looking good so far. Although his title tip crashed out early (Rob Cross was picked by three of our ‘experts’) John’s selected Glenn Durrant as a dark horse and Steve Beaton to do damage. Beaton did indeed cause damage and this was a very unusual pick as Steve had a poor Ally pally record before this year. Durrant is still going and may yet confirm John’s prediction.
Overall, its a mixed picture from the experts. But most still have at least one ‘runner’ left in the event and could yet claim success. Will we ‘have had enough of experts’? the jury is still out!
Peter Wright and Gerwyn Price booked their places in the quarter-finals of the 2019/20 William Hill World Darts Championship at London’s Alexandra Palace on Saturday as two-time winner Adrian Lewis exited the event.
Day 13 of darts’ biggest event saw the final six ties from the last 16 take place, with Wright and Price among the players to ensure spots in Sunday’s quarter-finals.
Former runner-up Wright came through a tense tie-break to defeat Jeffrey de Zwaan 4-3, having surrendered a 3-0 lead in sets to the Dutchman.
Wright got off to a flying start, landing a 149 finish on his way to taking the first three sets, including a dominant run of six successive legs to go within a touching distance of the quarter-finals.
Finishes of 130 and 76 followed from the Scottish World Cup winner, who looked to have taken an unassailable position at 3-0 up in sets and 2-0 up in the fourth.
However, De Zwaan recovered from the brink of defeat by winning three legs in a row to get his first set on the board, and then turned the game on its head by winning the next two sets to level at 3-3.
An epic contest went all the way to a tie-break, before the seventh leg of the decider saw Wright land a 180 on his way to a crucial break of throw which he followed up with a hold to seal his place in the last eight, where Luke Humphries awaits.
“I just ran out of energy, I was feeling really bad up there after the first three sets,” admitted Wright, who will make his fifth World Championship quarter-final appearance on Sunday.
“The good thing is that games under pressure like this can help lift your level to where it needs to be for the rest of the tournament.
“I was waiting for Jeffrey to start playing, I knew he would but I didn’t want him to!
“Luke is another quality player, I played against him many years ago and he was scarily good then so it’s no surprise to me to see how well he’s progressed.”
World Youth Champion Humphries reached the quarter-finals for a second successive year after a dominant display saw him complete a 4-1 victory against Kim Huybrechts.
Humphries hit ten 180s in an entertaining encounter which turned in his favour in the deciding leg of set three when his Belgian opponent declined a dart at the bullseye for an 83 checkout and he took full advantage with a 146 finish.
Huybrechts had snatched the first set after Humphries missed three darts at double top but the 24-year-old won nine of the last ten legs to seal a comprehensive win.
World number three Price made it through to the quarter-finals for the first time as he overcame Simon Whitlock 4-2 despite not being at his brilliant best.
After Australian number one Whitlock missed four darts to win the opening set, Price pounced and then landed finishes of 108 and 72 on his way to doubling the advantage.
A typically resilient Whitlock fought back to take two of the next three sets, only for Price to hit crucial finishes of 112 and 72 to set up a meeting with Glen Durrant.
“I think that was probably the worst I played for a long time,” Price admitted. “Simon missed a lot of doubles and so did I, but someone had to win it and thankfully it was me.
“I tried my hardest but sometimes when you try too hard it never happens.
“I played fantastic against John Henderson but this game was just one I was glad to get out of the way. I’m sure Glen and myself will have a decent game tomorrow.”
Three-time Lakeside Championship winner Durrant continued his dream Alexandra Palace debut with a hard-fought 4-3 win over local rival Chris Dobey.
A nip-and-tuck affair saw Dobey claim the opening set, only for the Northumbrian to concede two-leg leads in the next two sets as Durrant’s set-play experience came to the fore.
A 109 finish saw Durrant extend his lead to 3-1 in sets, only for a determined Dobey to win six of the next eight legs to take the contest to a decider.
Durrant outscored Dobey in the final set, not allowing his opponent a dart before crowning victory with a 146 finish.
Two-time World Youth Champion Dimitri Van den Bergh progressed to the quarter-finals after twice coming from two sets behind to beat Lewis 4-3 in a thrilling encounter.
Lewis took out a 123 checkout in the opening leg on the way to claiming each of the first two sets by three legs to one.
Van den Bergh took set three by the same margin but Lewis edged the fourth 3-2 with the aid of a 113 finish to open up a 3-1 lead.
Two-time World Champion Lewis added a third ton-plus checkout with a 136 in set five but it proved to be in vain as Van den Bergh won the set 3-1 to ignite his fightback.
Finishes of 98 and 76 helped the Belgian take the sixth set to force a decider, which he won 3-1 to reach the last eight, where he will face 2019 UK Open Champion Nathan Aspinall.
Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen will face Darius Labanauskas after the Lithuanian reached the quarter-finals for the first time after defeating Steve Beaton in the opening match of the day.
Labanauskas took out 114 to edge the opening set 3-2 but Beaton hit back by winning the second in a decider with a brilliant bullseye finish of 86.
The next two sets were shared before Lithuanian thrower Labanauskas went on to seal a 4-2 victory by winning six of the last of seven legs.
The William Hill World Darts Championship continues on Sunday December 29, with four quarter-final ties taking place across two sessions of action.
Aspinall will face Van den Bergh in the opening game of the day, before Humphries and Wright clash.
Van Gerwen will continue his title defence against Labanauskas at the start of the evening session, while Durrant and Price will play off for the last semi-final spot.
Day 14 will be broadcast live on the Sky Sports Darts channel and through NOW TV in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.
William Hill World Darts Championship Saturday December 28 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x Fourth Round Darius Labanauskas 4-2 Steve Beaton Luke Humphries 4-1 Kim Huybrechts Dimitri Van den Bergh 4-3 Adrian Lewis Evening Session (1900 GMT) 3x Fourth Round Peter Wright 4-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan Glen Durrant 4-3 Chris Dobey Gerwyn Price 4-2 Simon Whitlock
Sunday December 29 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) Quarter-Finals Nathan Aspinall v Dimitri Van den Bergh Luke Humphries v Peter Wright Evening Session (1900 GMT) Michael van Gerwen v Darius Labanauskas Glen Durrant v Gerwyn Price
Nathan Aspinall knocked out Gary Anderson to join Michael van Gerwen in the quarter-finals of the 2019/20 William Hill World Darts Championship, as Fallon Sherrock’s fairytale run came to an end on Friday at London’s Alexandra Palace.
Last year’s semi-finalist Aspinall defeated two-time World Champion Anderson 4-2, while Van Gerwen whitewashed Stephen Bunting 4-0 as the pair became the first two players through to the last eight.
A tight contest between Aspinall and Anderson began with the Scotsman winning the opening set, but after he strayed into double 15 when requiring 20 in the deciding leg of set two, Aspinall punished with double 16 to level.
The next two sets were shared, before set five continued the trend of going to a fifth leg, as Aspinall held his nerve on double four to go 3-2 up in sets.
Aspinall landed his 11th 180 of the match in the sixth set which he won, without the need for a deciding leg, on double ten to go one win away from back-to-back World Championship semi-final appearances.
“To beat Gary Anderson, a legend of the sport, on the World Championship stage means the world to me,” said UK Open champion Aspinall.
“It’s an indescribable feeling and these are the moments you play darts for.
“I had a great run here last year, followed by a strong 2019 but I’ve not had the best last couple of months so I’m delighted to see my game shine through.
“There was definitely pressure on myself coming into this tournament, there were a lot of people backing me to win it and I take confidence from that.”
Aspinall is joined in the quarter-finals by reigning champion Van Gerwen, who continued his title defence as he swept aside Stephen Bunting 4-0 in a dominant display.
World number one Van Gerwen averaged 104.09 as he struck seven 180s and landed a 130 checkout on his way to a seventh quarter-final berth in his last eight World Championship outings.
Earlier in the day, the final four third round ties took place after darts’ biggest event returned from the three-day Christmas break, as Chris Dobey ran out a 4-2 winner over history-maker Sherrock to book his place in the last 16.
Trailblazer Sherrock was bidding for a hat-trick of wins on the big stage following triumphs against Ted Evetts and Mensur Suljovic, and she got off to the perfect start by landing a 77 finish to take the opening set.
Checkouts of 104 and 96 weren’t enough to prevent Dobey from taking the second set, but an undeterred Sherrock produced a stunning 142 finish on her way to regaining a 2-1 lead in sets.
That was as good as it got for Sherrock, as two-time TV semi-finalist Dobey found his top form to concede just one more leg to end the contest with a 101.09 average.
“Chris played really well at the end and I couldn’t keep up with him,” said Sherrock.
“I’ve loved every minute of this experience. The crowd were incredible again, I loved the way they were so supportive.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it before but hopefully I will in the future.
“I hope this journey can continue, I’m going to Q School in January where I hope to win a Tour Card and I’ve also got the World Series event in New York to look forward to in June.”
Meanwhile, rising star Dobey was delighted to continue his progression by making it to the last 16 stage for a second successive year where he will take on Glen Durrant.
“Without a doubt that is one of the hardest and biggest wins of my career,” said Dobey.
“I said I wanted a test and I got it, Fallon threw absolutely everything at me so I take my hat off to her.
“It was hard to be the person to put Fallon out because I wanted to see her do well like everyone else.
“I want to see Fallon go on and keep making a name for herself but I’m here to earn a living for my family.
“I had to be at my best today and I thankfully I was. Now I’m looking forward to a clash of the North East against a player I know very well in Glen.”
Durrant, a three-time televised semi-finalist in his maiden year in the PDC, continued his dream debut at Alexandra Palace with a hard-fought 4-2 win over world number six Daryl Gurney.
Three-time Lakeside Champion Durrant twice led in sets, only for dogged Northern Irishman Gurney to fight back on both occasions to level the contest at 2-2.
With Gurney throwing first in the deciding leg of set five, Durrant produced a timely 180 followed by a 62 checkout in two darts to regain the advantage.
Gurney looked to have recovered with a break of throw to lead 2-1 in set six, only for Durrant to land a 109 checkout, his fourth ton-plus finish of the match, before sealing victory with a 13-dart leg.
There was no such drama for Gerwyn Price, as the world number three enjoyed a straightforward passage to the last 16 with a comprehensive 4-0 whitewash of John Henderson.
Welshman Price survived a scare from William O’Connor in his opening match, but the two-time Grand Slam of Darts champion roared back in style with an eye-catching 104.2 average.
Price’s next assignment will see him come up against Simon Whitlock, who reached the last 16 for the first time in six years with a 4-1 win over Mervyn King.
Former semi-finalist King enjoyed a perfect start, winning the first five legs before Whitlock stopped the rot and won three legs in a row to level at 1-1 in sets.
Whitlock once again won the deciding leg in set three to take a 2-1 lead, and the Australian number one proceeded to land a 148 checkout on his way to winning the last two sets.
The William Hill World Championship continues on Saturday December 28, with the final six quarter-final places up for grabs.
Two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis will be among the players in action in the afternoon session, before Price and Whitlock return to the stage in the evening.
Day 13 will be broadcast live on the Sky Sports Darts channel and through NOW TV in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.
William Hill World Darts Championship Friday December 27 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x Third Round Simon Whitlock 4-1 Mervyn King Glen Durrant 4-2 Daryl Gurney Chris Dobey 4-2 Fallon Sherrock
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 1x Third Round Gerwyn Price 4-0 John Henderson 2x Fourth Round Nathan Aspinall 4-2 Gary Anderson Michael van Gerwen 4-0 Stephen Bunting
Saturday December 28 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x Fourth Round Steve Beaton v Darius Labanauskas Kim Huybrechts v Luke Humphries Dimitri Van den Bergh v Adrian Lewis Evening Session (1900 GMT) 3x Fourth Round Peter Wright v Jeffrey de Zwaan Glen Durrant v Chris Dobey Gerwyn Price v Simon Whitlock
If you’re a darts fan or just a twitter devotee, you may believe that a thirty-four-year-old Welshman is the devil in a dart shirt. However, if you know anything of the history of sport you may see a character familiar to the development of most highly popular professional games. That of the marmite competitor or perhaps pantomime villain?
Six years ago, Gerwyn Price was a Rugby player coming toward the end of an up and down career that had many highlights but had not quite reached the elite levels he may have wished. However, he had discovered a talent for darts and determined that he would make it in a second professional game. By 2014 he had gained a professional tour card, at his first attempt, at PDC Qualifying School.
Price’s first year on the tour resulted in moderate success, reaching semifinals of Pro Tour events and qualifying for several European Tours. Reaching that year’s World Championships, at the first time of asking, was another landmark. During this time many, including the author, noted the impressive way Gezzy had adapted to pro darts, and how he did not seem to be bound by previous conventions, we put this down to the professional attitude, and strong mentality, that he had developed playing a physically dangerous sport that involved serious risk if not properly respected.
Now known as “The Ice Man” Price was starting to provoke grumblings. “Too aggressive”, “Over the Top”, “Bolshie” and other slightly surprising remarks were heard around venues. Many viewed this as a positive. Shaking up the status quo, not letting established stars intimidate you, trying to get the game onto your terms and other such counter remarks were offered by some.
2016 marked a real gear change for “The Ice Man” (even the choice of nickname was not without controversy!). Gerwyn claimed two Pro Tour titles and reached the later stages of European Tour events. He also made good progress at The World Matchplay, European Championship and Players Championship Finals. More bridges were to be crossed the next season.
Price reached the final of the 2017 UK Open, ‘including a superb comeback and 160 outshot to defeat Ian White, and lead Wales to the Final of the World Cup of Darts. A combination of these successes and his strong image, as a battler with a totally different style of play, gained him a place in the 2018 Premier League.
This was a remarkable story, a player with no experience whatsoever goes from unknown to the Premier League in four years! It is also highly unlikely Price would have gotten as far or been selected, for the PDC’s premium showcase, had he have been a run-of-the-mill character. Other players have had superb spells of form and achieved similar results to Price. None of them had the back story or the onstage attitude of the fighting Welshman. These last two qualities propelled him from outside the top ten into the Premier League. In short, the PDC had a strong hand in making, and encouraging, Price.
The Premier League is hugely demanding and requires yet another stage of adjustment. It may well have been a bridge too far. In reaction to this, Price made a few poor choices. Social media proved to be a pitfall, not exactly unusual, as comments made in frustration and disappointment caused a fan backlash and sanctions from the games disciplinary body. Safe to say the Premier League had not gone well for ‘Iceman’.
Showing huge mental strength, perhaps learned through rugby, Price finished the main tour season like a train. He claimed victory in the European Open as well as reaching the Qtr-Finals of both the World Grand Prix & The European Championship. His form was superb and his competitive juices seemed seriously fired up. These factors, both positive and negative, all came to a head in the 2018 Grand Slam of Darts!
Price started the event playing well, but clearly keyed up, possibly in reaction to the Premier, or just another illustration of Price’s highly developed desire to win. Playing a sport in which physical harm is a daily risk gives a different perspective to ‘throwing sharp things at a round thing’.
By the Qtr-final stage matters were coming to the boil. In a tough encounter, with Simon Whitlock, Price was cautioned by the referee. It appeared to be for ‘over celebrating’ and or failure to keep within the designated playing bounds. A superb and dramatic match finished was settled by a deciding leg and, a hot under the collar, Iceman continued on. A relatively straight forward win over Mensur Sulijavic saw Price reach his first major final. Normally, this would be a completely positive story, but the encounter with Whitlock had seen the Wolverhampton crowd turn against Price, adding fuel to an already smoldering fire.
The long and short of the 2018 Grand Slam final is that Price won, from well behind, Gary was upset, the crowd booed and the PDC reacted by fining him most of his winnings as well as issuing various statements and warnings.
In years to come however, the trophy will simply read 2018 – Gerwyn Price. He appealed the judgements, the fines were substantially reduced, and simply continued on. That years’ World Championship proved tough, with the crowd being especially ruthless. Yet, the PDC decided to include him in the 2019 Premier League, you do the math?
Price’s response to this chain of events has been exemplary and very impressive. He put up a far stronger showing in the Premier League whilst kicking his Pro Tour up another gear. He is now one of a select band to claim back to back events on what is an incredibly high-quality tour. His consistency improved, during the middle season, before he again seeming to hit the accelerator near year’s end.
During September he put together a superb run to claim another European Tour title, before claiming a third Pro Tour title for 2019. Price then excelled at the European Championship. He reached another final and was looking even better than twelve months previous.
The circle of sport was completed with Price returning to Wolverhampton as the reigning Grand Slam of Darts champion. Determined to show he was not a fluke, or had only won due to underhand tactics, he blasted through the event to reach the semi-final stage, defeating Anderson along the way, and an encounter with MVG.
Despite all his improvement Price had yet to beat the game’s standard bearer, and world number one, in seventeen attempts. If Price was to again progress, he would have to get over this (psychological?) block. Get over it was exactly what Price did. Not some nervy last gasp win, but a sixteen – twelve decisive victory.
All that was left was to win the title and win over the crowd. Gezzy, obliged with a demolition of Peter Wright in the final. The presentation could not have been different to 2018. The back to back champion was joined on stage by his family and cheered by thousands.
Price swiftly followed up with a final spot at The Players Championship finals soon after, this time losing out, to Micheal van Gerwen, in a nail-biter that deserved a final leg. His results in the last few months have elevated him to No.3 in the World and second favorite in for this year’s William Hill, PDC World Darts Championships.
Bearing in mind that no Grand Slam Champion has failed to win a World Championship, perhaps all of us should keep an eye out. The Iceman Cometh!
Raymond van Barneveld can claim a major role in the story of the PDC at the Palace. From his legendary win in the 2007 event, which may have prompted the move, to his superb 9 dart legs, Barney has provided some of the sports’ most iconic moments. In addition, his ‘Barny Army’ of fans bring atmosphere and colour to every event.
RVB’s role in the development and advancement of darts is safe and his reputation as a dart player will only grow. As a five-time World Champion he sits in a club of only three, Bristow (5), Barney (5) and Taylor (16).
Barney, now 52, will play his final World Championship this year and is sure to receive a superb reception and send off when his tournament comes to an end. He seems entirely at peace with his decision and determined to enjoy his curtain call. Raymond will have taken part in almost thirty World Championships since making his debut at the Lakeside in 1991. His remarkable journey has seen him tackle the legends of darts’ first golden era, battle with ‘The Power’ for over a decade and then shepherd a third generation of new players to take the game forward.
RVB decided to cross codes and take his place on the PDC tour in 2006. As a four-time Lakeside champion he was the biggest fish in a middle-sized pond and could easily have remained within the BDO system and racked up titles and fees. Yet, he courted controversy, and risked failure, in order to compete at the highest level and against the very best the game had to offer.
RVB’s first PDC ranking major was the 2006 UK Open unbelievably he won the title. After what could only be described as a stellar debut he prepared for his first PDC World Championship over the festive season of 2006/7. By bludgeoning his way to the final, van Barneveld would realize the ambition that had driven him to the PDC. He was to play Phil “The Power” Taylor over the best of 13 sets. The rest as they say is history. The nip and tuck match, the swings in one direction and then the other, the sudden death bull up and then the winning dart. The sinking to the knees, and the commenators’ superlatives, all form part of the 2007 legend.
Although Raymond has not yet added another World Championship Trophy, he has enjoyed a storied career across both codes. Three World Cup Singles titles, two Winmau World Masters, The Premier League and the Grand Slam of Darts, as well as hitting the first PDC World Championship 9 Dart Leg, were amongst many, placed in the trophy cabinet, during a marvelous career.
Between this year’s first match, vs Darin Young, and an unlikely final appearance on January 1st 2020 the fans at Ally Pally and darts’ fans the world over will bid a fond farewell to a modern legend. On current form Barney may give us a grand finale, Barney’s 3-month form is 10th in the world with a running average of 96.63 for 17 events played.
Raymond van Barneveld, Take a Bow!
This articles first appeared in The Ultimate Guide the The Word Championships get yours here:
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Michael van Gerwen continued his William Hill World Championship title defence with a straight sets success over Ricky Evans at London’s Alexandra Palace on Sunday.
The world number one hit more 180s than 140s as he breezed into the last 16 with ten maximums in a typically strong display.
A spirited Evans took van Gerwen to a deciding leg in three of the four sets but the Dutchman struck at the crucial moments to ensure the quickfire 29-year-old did not win a set.
“I wasn’t really in my comfort zone tonight but I’m happy to get such a big win,” said van Gerwen, who will take on Stephen Bunting after the Christmas break.
“I had to work hard to keep myself concentrated so I am pleased that I did that. I think Ricky’s fast pace helped me and I enjoy playing matches like this.
“Stephen is playing quite well but he is going to have to play the darts of his life to beat me.”
Bunting also claimed a 4-0 triumph earlier in the day, as he made it through to the last 16 of the World Championship for the first time in five years by seeing off Jonny Clayton.
Former Lakeside Champion Bunting secured the opening set without reply courtesy of a 140 finish and defied a 136 checkout and a 14-darter from the Welshman to edge the second 3-2.
Clayton took out a 138 combination in the third, which Bunting won 3-1 before the St Helens ace completed the win by edging set four in the fifth leg.
“It was my game plan to start well and stay on top and that is how it turned out,” said Bunting.
“I felt like I played really well and I can enjoy Christmas now and prepare for the next game.”
Nathan Aspinall’s bid to improve on last year’s World Championship semi-final continued with a battling seven-set win over Krzysztof Ratajski.
The opening two sets were shared, with Ratajski edging the second courtesy of a 106 finish in the decider, before Aspinall took the next two with 3-1 and 3-2 scorelines to push towards victory.
Ratajski saved the game by winning set five in a deciding leg, and produced a 13-darter in leg five of the sixth to send the match into a seventh set.
Aspinall, however, pounced on three missed doubles to lead in the final set before accelerating away to seal victory with a 116 checkout.
“I thought I’d won it when I went 3-1 up but he battled back and I had to dig deep,” said the 2019 UK Open Champion.
“I think I’ve shown in my relatively short career that I’ve got the ability to fight when I need to – I had to do that there and I’m really happy to be through.”
Steve Beaton reached the last 16 of the World Championship for the first time in 16 years with a fabulous victory over James Wade.
Former Lakeside Champion Beaton took the first set before coming back from two legs behind to steal set two and take control of the contest.
The next two sets were shared and 55-year-old Beaton won the sixth set 3-1 to complete victory by a margin of four sets to two.
“I had to dig in to get that result,” said the veteran star, who will take on Darius Labanauskas in the fourth round.
“I’ve had so many bad Christmases but I can go and enjoy it now, knowing that I’m coming back for another game.
“I’ve got to be positive and think I’ve got every chance of getting even further in the tournament.”
Labanauskas came from 2-1 down to defeat Max Hopp 4-2 as the Lithuanian thrower moved into the last 16 at Alexandra Palace for the first time.
The opening two sets were shared with 3-1 scorelines before Hopp came from a leg down in the third to move 2-1 up in the tie with the aid of a 114 finish.
Labanauskas landed a 12-darter as he won the fourth set 3-1, before taking the fifth without reply and the sixth by a 3-2 margin to punish misses from the German and claim the win.
Kim Huybrechts produced another solid performance to see off Danny Noppert in six sets.
The Belgian ace found himself 2-1 down in sets but bounced back by winning nine out of eleven legs to close out the win, which he sealed with a spectacular 150 checkout.
“It was an up and down kind of game but I managed to make it mine,” said Huybrechts, who will face either Luke Humphries or Nico Kurz in the last 16.
“I’m getting closer to my best game and I feel like I have a huge opportunity here but both Luke and Nico will think the same.”
The action continues on Monday with the final two sessions before the Christmas break, featuring six third round ties – including former World Champions Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson.
Day Ten will be broadcast live on the Sky Sports Darts channel and through NOW TV in the UK, on PDCTV-HD for Rest of the World Subscribers and through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN and RTL7.
William Hill World Darts Championship Sunday December 22 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x Third Round Stephen Bunting 4-0 Jonny Clayton Darius Labanauskas 4-2 Max Hopp Nathan Aspinall 4-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 3x Third Round Steve Beaton 4-2 James Wade Kim Huybrechts 4-2 Danny Noppert Michael van Gerwen 4-0 Ricky Evans
William Hill World Darts Championship Sunday December 23 Afternoon Session (1230 GMT) 3x Third Round Nico Kurz v Luke Humphries Adrian Lewis v Darren Webster Luke Woodhouse v Dimitri van den Bergh
Evening Session (1900 GMT) 3x Third Round Dave Chisnall v Jeffrey de Zwaan Gary Anderson v Ricky Searle Peter Wright v Seigo Asada
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