Schedule for Saturday evening at 2021 World Matchplay including Van Gerwen against Wright
Gerwyn Price, Callan Rydz, Michael Smith and Nathan Aspinall are the four who fell just short. Now, it's between the reigning World Matchplay winner, a former Matchplay winner, a one-time world champion and a first-time PDC major semi-finalist.
Did Dimitri van den Bergh let himself get too riled up by Gerwyn Price's antics on Thursday? Were the Welshman's actions beyond the acceptable? Does it really matter now? At the end of it all, Van Den Bergh is two steps from back-to-back World Matchplay titles.
What's more; though his carefully cultivated coolness melted away a little in the Winter Gardens heat, the Belgian was in control for most of his quarter-final tie, if not all of it. The world champion was held at arm's length in a manner that suggests that Van Den Bergh's game management is on point.
He faces a totally different opponent in Krzysztof Ratajski; unlike the gregarious Price, Ratajski is generally a very reserved figure on stage. In some corners the Pole has been called 'boring'. But it's not his fault that he performs best without histrionics; it's not his fault that people confuse 'focused' with 'boring'; and it's certainly not his fault that Callan Rydz completely failed to stand in his way.
Now he has broken the glass ceiling and finally made it to a major PDC semi, the final is within Ratajski's grasp. He'll have to deal with an opponent whose scoring has been excellent - and, at times, is more explosive than any other. This year, Van Den Bergh appears in the World Matchplay as a favourite, and he's ready to embrace that role.
Well, if the intensity of Peter Wright versus Michael van Gerwen can match the intensity of the absolute **** the pair talk about each other, we're in for an all-timer. What's it this time? Another MVG jibe about Wright losing his nerve when the pair meet? OK, gotcha. There's going to be no shortage of cockiness on the Winter Gardens stage.
In darting terms, it's Wright who has the edge at this exact moment in time. Another ton-plus average allowed him to dismiss Michael Smith, with the Bully Boy only providing the merest threat of success. The thing we've seen with Wright on some occasions in the past is form just like this not translating into the biggest trophies - remember the 20-match winning streak in 2019 that ended in the Matchplay quarter-finals. Two things about that, though; firstly, Daryl Gurney had to be incredible to come out on top there. And also, Wright was the world champion six months later.
So Michael van Gerwen is going to need to be at his fearsome best, or at least a useful facsimile of it. What he can't do is judder his way through as he did against Nathan Aspinall in a surprisingly scrappy quarter-final. The MVG tough-talk routine never stops rolling, but he will (privately) have some fears about the fact he still hasn't clicked in Blackpool. With the final looming large, it really is now or never.
Schedule 2021 World Matchplay
Saturday July 24 (1900 BST)
19:15 Dimitri van den Bergh v Krzysztof Ratajski
20:45 Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen