The reintroduction of darts fans to events has had the desired effect on Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright.
After nearly 18 months without fans, we enjoyed a full house this past week at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
Not so coincidentally, Wright’s last televised tournament win was back in February 2020 when he took down the Darts Masters immediately off the back of winning his first PDC World Championship.
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Now though, in front of a typically boisterous audience, Snakebite has landed another biggie after he became the World Matchplay champion on Sunday night.
Playing well and averaging high
He did so in magnificent form, playing remarkably and averaging high scores all week before beating Dimitri Van Den Bergh in the final.
He is now just the fifth player in history along with Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson and Rob Cross to have won both the World Championship and World Matchplay in their career.
But it nearly wasn’t to be.
Famously turning his back on the game for 12 years when he lost at Lakeside to Richie Burnett in 1995, Wright was talked back into the game by his wife Jo – who does his hair before each match – and it was her that he dedicated his win.
She was watching on from the crowd following recent back surgery breaking down in tears after the match.
Last year’s winner, Van Den Bergh lived with the Wrights throughout the first lockdown and the respect was there for all to see.
The Belgian, who was hoping to become only the fourth player to retain the Matchplay title, is now ranked fourth in the world. Hee credits his former landlord with the progress he has made this past 18 months.
PDC World Championship winners?
Back in June, Wright predicted that he would take down the World Matchplay and the World Championship this season and now he is halfway there.
If he continues to play like this, then no one will be able to get close to the Scotsman and stop him from winning the set, except perhaps Dimitri Van Den Bergh, who is clearly destined for even better things.
bet365 have priced up Snakebite at 5/1 to win the PDC Worlds at the Ally Pally at the beginning of next year and are giving odds of 9/1 on Van Den Bergh lifting the Sid Waddell Trophy instead.
Both of these prices will only thin if these two keep up their good form. Wright could well start that tournament as favourite.
Best two darters in the tourney
The 2020 world champ only dropped 33 legs across all of his matches last week when he beat Danny Noppert 10-3, Joe Cullen 11-5, Michael Smith 17-10 before meeting Michael van Gerwen (4/1 favourite for the World Championships) 17-10.
Then, in the final, he beat the Dream Maker 18-9 in a match where he averaged 105.9 and posted a tournament average of 104.91.
Perhaps Wright’s best performance came in the semi-final against Mighty Mike where he averaged 110.37.
While Wright was a good value for the win, Dimitri Van Den Bergh will reflect on his doubles fails throughout the week that ultimately proved costly.
The Belgian was throwing trebles with ease, having numerous chances to land a nine-darter, but on far too many occasions, he couldn’t close out a leg and repeatedly let Snakebite off the hook.
Van Den Bergh, 27, posted a pretty dismal checkout percentage of 27.27% – Wright’s checkout percentage was 57.06% for contrast – which let down his tourney average of 100.16.
The new Matchplay champion, on the other hand, landed 18 of his 31 doubles and shot ten 180s.
This Matchplay defeat was the first of the Belgian’s career, having won the event last year on his debut in the competition.
Along the way to his second successive final, he beat Devon Petersen, Dave Chisnall, world number one Gerwyn Price and Krztsztof Ratajski.
He also posted 49 maximums, which is the third highest ever behind Adrian Lewis, who pinned 56 in 2013, and Gary Anderson, who scored 52 in 2018. As things stand, Gerwyn Price still hasn’t made it past the quarter final stage at the World Matchplay but has won the PDC World Championships. bet365 has the Welshman priced up at 9/2 to repeat his Ally Pally win in the World Championships which begin in December.