Peter Wright won his first PDC World Championship title after brilliantly beating Michael van Gerwen 7-3 at Alexandra Palace – then put the victory down to the fact he refused to give up after losing to the same rival in the 2014 final.
Wright, who denied his world No 1 opponent a fourth global crown, said: “You should never give up. It doesn’t matter how many times you get beaten. All these good players keep coming through, but I’ve done it. I’ve done it.”
Van Gerwen added: “I am really disappointed.Everything I missed, every important shot he took out. His finishing was phenomenal. ”
It was an outstanding performance by underdog Wright, as he won three successive sets to leave his illustrious opponent floundering.
The opening two legs of an eagerly awaited encounter went against the throw, and Van Gerwen went agonisingly close to a 170 checkout in a first-set decider, narrowly missing the bullseye, before Wright closed out a double-top finish.
It was exactly the start Wright needed, and he continued a high-class opening in set two - taking ittook set two 3-1, opening up a clear early advantage.
Van Gerwen, though, hit back immediately, needing only 37 darts to whitewash Wright in set three, when he averaged 122, before a tight, tense fourth set also went the Dutchman’s way 3-2.
With his 180 count beginning to mount – he hit seven maximums in the first four sets – Van Gerwen was off and running in pursuit of another world crown.
Wright had to somehow halt his charge, and he did exactly that in set five – with a considerable amount of help from his opponent. Van Gerwen inexplicably missed six darts at a double in leg three, but Wright retained his accuracy, taking the set 3-1 and regaining overall control.
Van Gerwen’s double trouble continued in the sixth set, in which Wright claimed a whitewash and reopened a healthy lead, yet Van Gerwen regained his composure to peg his opponent back and make it 4-3.
But back came Wright in set eight, capitalising on another missed Van Gerwen double in the deciding fifth leg to put daylight between him and his opponent once again.
Wright then clinched a five-leg set to go 6-3 up and close in on the title, before Van
Gerwen responded by going agonisingly close to a nine-dart leg in set ten.
But Wright was not to be denied, and he closed out the match with a double 10 shot to be crowned world champion and collect a £500,000 winner’s purse.
• Fallon Sherrock has been confirmed as one of the nine “challengers” who will feature in the 2020 Premier League.
The 25-year-old made history as the first woman to win a match at the PDC World Championship, before then beating number 11 seed Mensur Suljovic on her way to the third round. She has been rewarded for her performances with a spot on the second night of the Premier League in Nottingham on 13 February.
Sherrock took to Twitter to reveal her delight at the news, saying: “Wow, wow wow. It just gets better and better.
“Thank you @OfficialPDC and @SkySportsDarts.
“I can’t wait to make an appearance in the Premier League.”
One of the nine “challengers” will appear on the bill in each week of the competition, which begins on 6 February in Aberdeen and concludes at London’s O2 on 21 May.
Points won by the challengers will not count towards the league table, but they will receive financial rewards for winning or drawing matches.
John Henderson has been confirmed as the “challenger” on the opening night in Aberdeen, with PDC chairman Barry Hearn saying he will reveal the other seven in the coming days.
They join nine stars who will compete in the regular league, where the top four players in the PDC Order of Merit qualified automatically and are joined by five wildcards.
Newly-crowned world champion Peter Wright, defending Premier League champion Michael Van Gerwen, Rob Cross and Gerwyn Price qualified automatically, with Michael Smith, Gary Anderson, Daryl Gurney, Nathan Aspinall and Glen Durrant receiving wildcard picks.