Peter Wright or Gerwyn Price will be the 2019 Grand Slam of Darts champion.
62 games in, we’ve seen some vintage Grand Slam darts. That was certainly true of Sunday afternoon’s semi-finals, with the slow burn of Wright overcoming Glen Durrant, followed by the fireworks of Price’s momentous victory over Michael van Gerwen. The pair, vying for a spot in history and a major boost to their assault on second spot in the PDC Order of Merit, will step out on Sunday evening at Wolverhampton with one step left to glory.
Oh, and there’s the £125,000 grand prize too. Let’s not forget that one.
Including the unranked events, Peter Wright has appeared in 12 major televised singles finals (on top of nine semi-finals). And he’s won…one.
It just doesn’t make sense. The Scot is too good for this to carry on. Could the Grand Slam be where it happens?
Really, his milestone should’ve come at the World Matchplay. A slip against Daryl Gurney put paid to those plans. This time around, Snakebite hasn’t slipped. After swatting aside his Group F opponents and snuffing Rob Cross out completely, Wright had to do it the hard way against both Dave Chisnall and Glen Durrant.
The reason that the 2017 UK Open champion was able to do that is because he’s completely comfortable right now. The darts are working for him. Even the setup switches have had a positive impact. Overall, Wright is playing a well-balanced game. He knows better than anyone that he’s no bottler; those snipes are still made about him though, and the Grand Slam is a good place to shut the critics up.
He did it. He only went and did it. After 19 defeats, laced with close shaves and devastating denouements, Gerwyn Price held it together. That ludicrous run of losses against Michael van Gerwen has been buried.
This was no straightforward win, either. If MVG had suffered a dip or hadn’t been in good form, the feat wouldn’t have been impressive. But this was a world number one who has averaged three figures through most of the tournament. A three-time world champion who promised to throw everything at the Welshman, and duly did. A lot of talk was that if van Gerwen maintained a high standard, Price wouldn’t be able to hold him back.
But the Grand Slam holder endured. What’s more, he punished every slip and gave himself plenty of chances to win. Price admitted that the nerves got to him at the end. A few winning doubles were passed up, but thanks to him laying down the groundwork, the Iceman had enough time to seal a famous win.
It means that the 2018 champion has now reached two Grand Slam finals in a row, and will fancy himself to become the third person – after van Gerwen and Phil Taylor – to defend this title.
He’s on the ultimate high after banishing a massive demon, and a long-hostile crowd is now back on his side. Gerwyn Price is in a winning mood.
There’s a contrast in styles here; Wright plays a methodical, quiet game, Price troubles the decibel metre as much as the treble 20. Snakebite goes for double 16, the Iceman opts for tops. The former’s tournament average is 99.37 to the latter’s 95.44, suggesting that Wright has been more consistent. Looking at the knockout matches alone, the difference is negligible.
It’s possible that the first few legs will be pivotal. Price has benefited from blistering starts. He led 5-0 against Darren Webster and Gary Anderson after the first session, and 4-1 against Michael van Gerwen. Wright also started well against Glen Durrant, but has been able to play the long game against Duzza and Dave Chisnall in particular.
Let’s not forget that this isn’t the first major final the pair have met in. Back at the 2017 UK Open final, Wright led throughout and claimed an 11-6 success through efficient, ruthless darts. But so much has changed for Price since then. A second successive Grand Slam is very much in reach. If not, Wright joins the limited list of former champions.
Last year’s final was a fractured, angry affair which was disrupted by controversial flashpoints. That won’t happen again. Price is much more controlled, and Wright doesn’t get drawn in. That being said, with everything at stake, there’s no doubt that these two world class players will be riding a serious adrenaline high.
One thing we can count on is a battle – maybe even one that goes down to the wire.
Grand Slam of Darts 2019 schedule
Peter Wright (97.34) 16-11 (94.28) Glen Durrant
Michael van Gerwen (101.91) 12-16 (100.73) Gerwyn Price
Final (19:00 GMT)
Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright
Tags: Gerwyn Price, PDC, Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price will take on Peter Wright in the @BoyleSports Grand Slam final.
Who will be lifting the Eric Bristow Trophy tonight? pic.twitter.com/ucorKxrEi6
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) November 17, 2019
Author: Ed McCosh