On January 1 2014, Michael van Gerwen beat Peter Wright to win his first world title and become the world No 1.
A few weeks later, a rugby player from South Wales rocked up at PDC Qualifying School without fully knowing the rules and won himself a Tour card. Seven years on and Gerwyn Price has ended MvG’s seven-year reign at the head of the rankings and lifted the World Championship trophy himself.
“If I had known the rules when I went, I probably wouldn’t have even gone,” Price told the media after his 7-3 victory over Gary Anderson at Alexandra Palace.
“When I got my card Barry said to me, it costs you £105 every event. I’m glad I didn’t know that because now I have earned those £105 over and over.”
• Finals Night at the Worlds – as it happened
The greatest shame is that only a handful of PDC officials and Sky Sports presenters were in attendance to see it as Price, the former Cross Keys, Neath, Glasgow Warriors and South Wales Dragons hooker dethroned Van Gerwen to become Wales’ fifth world champion.
A deserted West Hall, usually home to a raucous crowd of 3,500, stood silent as Price claimed the biggest title of his darting career in the latest chapter of a remarkable rise for the former rugby league and union player who can now claim to be the best player on planet darts.
“I never ever dreamt this,” he added after moving the huge trophy out of the way of the photographers.
“Two years ago you could have given Michael [van Gerwen] a year off and he still would have been world no 1 so for me to come from the background I have, to pick this trophy up, I am over the moon – there are no words that can explain it.”
Price pocketed the biggest prize in the sport when he pinned double five with his 12th match dart to lift the Sid Waddell Trophy to go with the £500,000 winner’s cheque, but there’s more to it than that – it’s the culmination of a sporting journey.
In October Price won the World Grand Prix, a fourth major title on his CV. The World Cup of Darts – with Jonny Clayton by his side – and the World Series of Darts Finals followed as the 35-year-old took his title tally for this truncated season to eight, more than anyone else.
In a sport that has numbers at its very core, the Iceman has made a compelling case over the last year, and perhaps longer, that he merits his position at the top of the game.
Along with Van Gerwen and defending champion Peter Wright, the world No 1 ranking was in play for all three when 96 players kicked off the World Championships on December 15. Wright was first to go, beaten in the third round by Gabriel Clemens, and then Van Gerwen followed in the quarter-finals, stunned by Dave Chisnall.
It paved the way for Price to become the sport’s 10th world No 1 and he delivered with a final performance as imperious as it became nervous, especially at the end of the match.
The Iceman had been brilliant throughout, averaging nearly 100 and hitting 75 per cent of his doubles until the winning line loomed into view. He wobbled, and admitted to being nervous before and during the match.
“Early on I felt we both felt the pressure but after that I felt I was playing well and in the middle part of the game I felt so comfortable, I felt I am playing well, I am going to win this but then towards the end it got a bit crazy.
“I had a big enough cushion to get me over the winning line, I felt like I missed millions of doubles.
“I’ve never felt pressure like that in my life. That was tough to hit that winning double, how Michael [van Gerwen], Peter [Wright] and other people make it look so easy, it’s crazy. That was tough.
In many ways, It’s easy to forget that Price is still finding his way in the game. Admittedly a very good way to the very top but he is just six full years into life as a professional darts player and not the rugby player he dreamed of being. Read from source….