by George Willoughby
Welshman Gerwyn Price was beaten in a thrilling Champions League of Darts semi-final against world number one Michael van Gerwin on October 20. Price, nicknamed ‘The Iceman’, finished the night with a brilliant 102.49 average, but was not able to come away victorious as ‘Mighty Mike’ proved too much.
Van Gerwin showed his class with a 105.54 average to win 11-10 and advance into the final, where he defeated Peter Wright 11-10 to win the tournament.
As previous matchups show, Price has notoriously struggled against Michael van Gerwin. Last week’s defeat marked the 18th straight game which has resulted in the Welshman failing to win (17 defeats and one draw).
On route to his knockout game with ‘Mighty Mike’, Price finished second in his group after recording two wins and one loss. The Iceman was victorious against Daryl Gurney and Rob Cross, but he was beaten by Peter Wright who would have been his opponent in the final.
Wright had to play at his very best to surpass Price who again averaged over 100. This consistency is something that has become more apparent in Price’s game. From his three group-stage matches, Price averaged a stellar 100.25 which was the second-highest behind tournament winner MVG.
The semi-final match started at a very fast pace with MVG settling into an early rhythm after only throwing 10 darts to claim the match’s opening leg. Price was his exuberant self, celebrating every checkout and leg win which has angered several darts players in the past.
However, someone of Michael van Gerwin’s calibre is too experienced and talented to be influenced by the 34-year-old’s antics at the oche. He subsequently raced into a 3-1 leg lead but Price stayed focused. The Iceman responded expertly, checking out 76 and 40 to fight his way back to a 4-3 deficit.
Terrific scoring ensued by both players and the match swung into the Iceman’s favour. Price broke the throw of MVG with a timely 12-dart leg, which he then followed up with a 13-dart leg to claim his first lead of the match at 6-5.
The Iceman continued to match the scoring power of the world number one, and subsequently held onto his slender one-leg lead. What was noticeable as the match progressed was Price’s less animated approach. He moved away from his passionate celebrations to more concentrated outbursts, conveying the relentless focus any player needs if they are to cause an upset over Michael van Gerwin.
Gerwyn Price was able to engineer himself into a 10-9 lead and one leg away from reaching the Champions League of Darts final. However, all of his fantastic work to get himself into a winning position was undone after he lost his rhythm in the ensuing two legs. The trebles dried up for Price, and he was ultimately punished. Yet, the 34-year-old still had the darts in the final leg.
Having the throw, however, was an opportunity the Iceman failed to capitalise on. Back-to-back disappointing visits left him needing 190 and his opponent a mere 46. Michael van Gerwin made no mistake needing just the two darts to checkout and advance into the final.
Without a doubt, Gerwyn Price will be frustrated having put together an almost faultless performance against the world number one. It shows the progress he has made since joining the PDC in 2014. Price has been improving year-on-year, and if he can consistently perform as he did against MVG, there is no reason why he cannot be challenging for titles regularly.