Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright gets his second chance to win the PDC World Darts Championships when he faces reigning champion Michael van Gerwen in the 2020 final.
Both players met in the final in 2014 with the Scot losing out 7-4. Since then, van Gerwen has won two more world titles while Wright’s best showing was a semi-final defeat to fellow countryman Gary Anderson in 2017.
If Wright is to win his maiden world title, then he needs to start far better than the 2014 final. In the first four sets of that final, Wright managed to win just two legs. Players such as van Gerwen don’t need a head start and considering how the Dutchman powers through opponents then Wright must start quickly.
The performances of van Gerwen will give Wright some hope. In his six matches to the final, van Gerwen had averaged over a hundred once: a 4-0 demolition of Stephen Bunting in the fourth round. In both the quarter-final, against Darius Labanauskas, and the defeating Nathan Aspinall in the semi-final van Gerwen has shown signs of vulnerability. Having the ability to exploit those vulnerabilities will be a different matter, but Wright’s sanguine attitude augurs well.
Wright will be buoyed by an impressive win against the in-form Gerwyn Price. The match had an edge to it, from the end of the first set when Price took umbrage to Wright’s conduct which had spilled over from friendly banter before the game. Price is no stranger to controversy and the ill-tempered semi-final would be no surprise to many. Wright took advantage of the situation to upset the favourite for the match 6-3. Wright averaged 98.39 to run out a comfortable winner. The two have apologised to each other since but it is another episode involving Price.
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As in 2014, Wright will have the majority of the Alexandra Palace crowd in his favour. Such partiality will not affect the concentration of van Gerwen who, as was Phil Taylor in the past, is used to being the unpopular favourite. A bigger challenge to van Gerwen will be his form. He has not been his imperious best but, again in the Phil Taylor mould, has found a way to win. If he finds top gear, there will be very little that Wright can do but watch in awe. The last defeat that has van Gerwen endured in the world championships was two years ago in a narrow semi-final defeat to eventual champion Rob Cross.
The tournament has already two significant moments with Raymond van Barneveld’s last match plus Fallon Sherrock’s history-making victories. If Wright were to win, this feat would be no less significant. Many will be expecting to see van Gerwen take out world title number four. However, the neutral will hope that Wright will prevail. If Wright were to be prancing on the stage at the end of the match, like a peacock escaping from an explosion at a paint factory, then it will be a popular win.