World Darts Championship Final Preview
STAR DUO SET FOR BATTLE IN DARTS' RICHEST-EVER GAME
The PDC World Darts Championship will conclude with a new player lifting the Sid Waddell Trophy on Wednesday night, as Peter Wright and Michael van Gerwen prepare to face off in darts' richest-ever game.
Number 16 seed Wright is hoping to cap his remarkable rise into the sport's elite over the past 12 months by winning his first major title should he take victory in the World Championship final.
World number two Van Gerwen, meanwhile, is looking to go one better than 12 months ago at Alexandra Palace, having lost out 7-4 to Phil Taylor in the 2013 final.
Victory for the 24-year-old Dutchman would see him pick up a record £250,000 first prize - the biggest ever paid out in the sport - and also jump above Taylor to number one in the PDC Order of Merit.
Van Gerwen soared into the final with a sensational 6-0 whitewash of two-time champion Adrian Lewis in Monday's semi-finals, producing a ruthless display as he bids to add to the World Grand Prix, Premier League Darts, Dubai Darts Masters and Players Championship Finals triumphs he has enjoyed in the past 18 months.
"I'm very happy to be back in the final and hopefully I can go all the way this year," said van Gerwen, the 1/5 favourite to win the game following his wins over Zoran Lerchbacher, Kevin McDine, Gary Anderson, Mark Webster and Lewis.
"I think I'm a better player than last year; I'm more consistent, I don't make as many mistakes and even though my averages might not be as high as last year's tournament, I'm doing the right things at the right moments.
"I know what it's like to lose in big finals but I also know how to win, like I've shown in events like the Premier League and World Grand Prix, and I learned a lot from the World Championship final last year too.
"It would be huge for me to win the final and I believe it's my turn. It's the biggest thing in darts and I know that I'd become number one too - but I don't want to look to far ahead.
"I've got to focus on the game and not make any mistakes."
Van Gerwen defeated Wright in the second round of last year's World Championship, losing the first two sets before winning the next four without reply as he continued his charge to the final.
However, the Dutch ace believes that he is facing a different prospect this time around at Alexandra Palace, with Wright having won his second ranking title earlier this year and been one of the most consistent performers across the PDC circuit.
"Peter's not in the final for nothing," said van Gerwen. "He's playing great darts and he deserves to be in the final, so it's my challenge to stop him.
"He's had a great tournament and it doesn't matter that I've got a good record against him this year, because this is a new game.
"I see myself as the favourite, but there are no guarantees and you have to fight for every leg and every set otherwise you won't win."
Colourful star Wright, born in Scotland but based in Mendham, Suffolk, was a semi-finalist in June's UK Open and won a second Players Championship later that month, before reaching three other finals during the year.
However, he changed his darts coming into the World Championship and has backed up that move by hitting the highest match average of the tournament this year with a 105.07 mean in defeating Michael Smith in the third round.
He also defeated Joe Cullen, Per Laursen and Wes Newton before producing a scintillating performance to win 6-2 against former finalist Simon Whitlock in the semi-finals on Monday to guarantee the biggest pay-day of his career.
"Coming into the tournament I'd set my goal of reaching the semi-finals, so to be in the final is a bonus in one way - but I want to go on and win it now," said the 43-year-old, who has moved to seventh in the world rankings by reaching the final and could jump to third with victory.
"I've been consistent and taken my chances well, but I still feel there's some improvement with me and I can score better.
"There's no pressure on me though, and I'll just take it one leg and one set at a time. I've been going up on stage in each game treating it as a first round game and preparing like that, and it's worked so far.
"I'm not thinking that it's a final, and I'll just play my game and try to stick to the rhythm I've had during the tournament.
"Michael knows he'll have a tougher match than when we played last year. I've got more and more experience on the circuit this year, so I'll give him a better game and I'm going to push him all the way.
"It's every darts players' dream to get to the World Championship final and now I'm here I want to go up there and enjoy it - and I want the crowd to enjoy it too.
"I thought I'd be really nervous, but I'm feeling good and I can't wait to get up there now."
Wednesday's final will be the first PDC World Championship final which will not feature an English player, and will be watched by a capacity crowd at London's Alexandra Palace.
The PDC are also in line to see the previous tournament record number of 180s, 588 in the 2012 event, broken with 581 landed so far during the event, which would mean that the PDC's official charity, Haven House Children's Hospice, could scoop a bumper donation from the title sponsors.
The tournament sponsors are donating £10 per 180 hit during the event to Haven House, but have pledged to double the donation should the record be broken.
Sky Sports' coverage of the final will include a 3D broadcast alongside their High Definition coverage, with the game also being screened live in Holland, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Australia, New Zealand, across the Middle East and online through www.LIVEPDC.TV.
The World Darts Championship final will also be broadcast for the first time LIVE on BBC Radio Five, with presenter Phil Williams joined at Alexandra Palace by commentator John Rawling and expert summariser Paul Nicholson.
World Darts Championship Final
Wednesday January 1 2014 (8pm)
Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen
Best of 13 sets, best of five legs per set.
A tie-break would apply in the final set.
1/5 Michael van Gerwen
7/2 Peter Wright
10/1 Michael van Gerwen
22/1 Peter Wright