In a Wales versus Scotland final, it was the Welshman Gerwyn ‘Iceman’ Price who triumphed after beating Gary ‘The Flying Scotsman’ Anderson in one of the most heated darts finals ever.
In the 16-13 win, the Welshman, who started the week as a 50/1 outsider to claim his first major televised title, was accused of over-celebrating each point he scored which wound not only his opponent up but also the Aldersley Leisure Village fanbase who were all staunchly behind the Scotsman.
Living up to his casting as the pantomime villain, former rugby player Price who only took up darts in 2014, celebrated even the most mundane of throws. During the match, he taunted the crowd and cheered in his rival’s face, which at one point led to Anderson shoving Price. Even as he collected his trophy, the Wolverhampton crowd let out a chorus of boos.
It was a final that overshadowed Anderson’s own controversial quarterfinal. In his game against Dutchman Wesley Harms, Anderson accused, and was in turn accused himself, of truly dirty tactics and leaving a stink at the oche. Yes, the two opponents accused each other of farting as each one stepped up to take their turn. In one of the most bizarre sporting interviews in living memory, Anderson, who blew his opponent away 10-2, announced “I thought Wesley had farted on stage. You can put your finger up my arse, there will be no smell there. I thought he had s**t, and I went ‘Oh, that’s dirty.’” For his part, Harms says his poor performance was due to the whiffy atmosphere he himself had encountered at the oche, claiming, “It’ll take me two nights to lose this smell from my nose”.
As a consequence, Gerwyn Price and Gary Anderson have both been referred to the Darts Regulation Authority. Going forward, all players could face punishments during matches in an effort to deter gamesmanship. Under proposed plans being considered by the PDC, a sliding scale of penalties could be introduced during a match, like in Tennis. A player could be warned for behaviour such as over-celebrating. As of yet, the punishment for a fart has yet to be announced.
Price ends MVG’s Grand Slam of Darts streak
In the final itself, which was Price’s second ever and last since the 2017 UK Open, the Iceman showed his true resilience. This was true to form for the Welshman after he made it through to the final following two incredible comebacks against Simon Whitlock in the quarter-final and Mensur Suljovic in the last four. Nevertheless, Price was still the massive underdog against Anderson, who had an impressive week that culminated in a semi-final 16-12 win over Michael van Gerwen, which put an end to Mighty Mike’s three-year reign as the Grand Slam of Darts champion.
The Flying Scotsman took the bait of Price’s histrionics at the oche, especially when he lost four legs on the spin to blow his 7-4 lead. He looked like he was back in control soon after as he raced into an 11-8 lead thanks to successive finishes of 72, 84 and 144. Price had other ideas, and just as he had earlier in the week when he came back from 9-5 down against Whitlock and 10-5 down against Suljovic, he fought back to remain in the game. Taking out 70, 78 and 130 over the next four legs brought the Iceman back to within one at 12-11.
Anderson won the next set to increase his lead to 13-11, but Price ran away with the next four legs to become the first man to lift the newly-named Eric Bristow trophy. Price is now priced at 40/1 with Betway to win the Darts World Championship that begin on December 13.
This year’s World Championships at Alexandra Palace will be notable for being the last appearance of five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, who says he will retire after the event. 51-year-old Dutchman Barney is one of only three players to have won five world titles and has a total of 29 PDC titles over his career, including two UK Opens, the Grand Slam of Darts and the Premier League. RVB also won the British Darts Organisation (BDO) title in 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005 before switching to the PDC. A golden send off for Barney is worth 50/1 at Betway right now.
Players Championship Finals betting tips
On Friday the 23rd of November, the last PDC event of the year before the World Championship takes place, as the annual Players Championship Finals return to Minehead.
The tournament represents the culmination of the 22 Players Championship qualifiers that took place around the UK between February and October, as well as those drafted from the Order of Merit. This is the eleventh staging of the tournament and will be broadcast live on ITV4.
As always with this event, there will be two stages of the competition, with the first stage getting underway on Friday with an all-Dutch battle between Jeffrey de Zwaan and Jelle Klaasen. The first two rounds of the competition are best of 11 legs, the third-round and quarterfinals are best of 19 legs, after which all games will be best of 21 legs. Adrian Lewis, James Wade and Daryl Gurney will all be featured in that first session. By the evening, the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Rob Cross and Gary Anderson will all be stepping up to the oche.
Michael van Gerwen, winner of four of the last five Players Championships, is one of 14 different winners on the tour this year, with the others being Gary Anderson (3), Krzysztof Ratajski (2), Peter Wright (2) and Ian White (2). Mensur Suljovic, who should be there, has withdrawn and will not be part of this weekend’s proceedings in Minehead after bowing out due to family reasons. Instead, his place in the line-up will be taken by Benito van de Pas, who was the next non-qualified player to have been registered.
Suljovic is the only absentee from the usual roster of big names who are led, as always, by Michael van Gerwen. Betway have priced the superstar Dutchman at 11/10 to win outright in the North East. World number two Gary Anderson is worth 7/2 and was playing like a boss last week in Wolverhampton before letting Price’s on-stage antics and Harms’ aroma get the better of him.
I would steer clear of Peter Wright, but should you fancy Snakebite, he is worth 9/1 at Betway whereas James Wade, on a good run until Wolverhampton, is priced at 12’s. Wade had been playing some of the best darts of his life since the middle of October. Last week he won all three of his group games at the Grand Slam before suffering a shock defeat to Michael Unterbuchner. During his winning run, he did overcome some of darts’ biggest names including Rob Cross, Simon Whitlock, Gerwyn Price, Raymond van Barneveld and Mensur Suljovic.
While he doesn’t boast the best record here, he has reached the semis before and the draw here has worked out favourably for him, avoiding the likes of Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson until the final, making him a good each way punt.
Rob Cross, who last year knocked out Wade in the quarterfinals, has shown some poor form this year, which has seen him drift as far wide as 28/1, a few points higher than Daryl Gurney’s 25/1. Last week’s hero and Grand Slam champion Gerwyn Price is 33/1.
Elsewhere, current Shanghai Masters champion and Darts Premier League runner-up, Michael Smith’s early season form is slowly starting to return, even making the final of the World Series, where he lost out to James Wade in a final-leg decider. Bully Boy also won three from three in the groups stage of the Grand Slam before running into Michael van Gerwen in the second round where he lost 10-8. He could well meet MVG and/or Anderson along the way but at 25/1, he could be an interesting outside bet.