By Rod Harrington
Last Updated: 31st December 2019
After 94 matches at the William Hill World Darts Championship we’re now down to the last two, with reigning champion Michael van Gerwen set to face Peter Wright in Wednesday’s final.
Van Gerwen and Wright progress to final
Reigning champion Van Gerwen and former runner-up Wright both claimed 6-3 wins against Nathan Aspinall and Gerwyn Price respectively to set up a repeat of the 2013/14 showdown, which the Dutchman won 7-4 to lift the first of his three World Darts 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 Darts 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 Darts Championship crown.
Wright made it through to his second World Darts Championship final with a dominant 6-3 win over world number three Price in a feisty affair.
Competing in his third World Darts 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 Darts Championship final, six years on from his first.
Van Gerwen and Wright set for tight affair
It was a high-scoring game from Wright on Monday with 16 180s and 30 140s, however, in between it was a bit rusty and he will need to tighten up on that as he will not be allowed to have too many ropy legs, though it would not take much extra from this win to get him his first world title.
This final is all about Wright in my eyes as he did score brilliantly with those 16 180s and 30 140s, as he did in his quarter-final. However, there were a few dull patches in his semi-final so if he can tighten that side of his game up then the win is well within his grasp.
Van Gerwen came through a tough match when beating Aspinall in Monday’s second semi-final and it certainly was not vintage MVG with the Dutchman well below his par. He needs to sort that out because he will not get away with this in the final as he has in his previous two matches.
The stats are with Wright because if Van Gerwen plays in this final as he did in the semi-final then he loses, however, I am still with MVG as I tipped him from the beginning of the event. The Dutchman is the 4/11 favourite to claim victory, with Wright at 11/5.
The bet of the final for me is over 10.5 on sets in the match at 4/5.
I’m also going for over 152.5 on the highest checkout in the match at 5/6.